Rachel and I recently started reading over a first draft of each other’s stories with the intent to give the draft an edit and critique by the end of the month. We’re reading through the stories before stabbing them with red pens so we each get a good idea as to what the story is about and how our styles work.
Granted, we’ve been writing together for years, but it’s a different thing to read a whole novel rather than a flash fiction on a Sunday blog post.
Before we both started reading, her biggest concern was her main character’s development throughout the story while I just bluntly said about mine, “Make sure it makes sense.”
When Rachel writes, she forms her plot first, characters second, having a map and sending characters to (hopefully) follow the route while recording how they respond. I’m the polar opposite, preferring to let my characters do improv on the stage of my mind before nailing down an actual plot for them.
Every so often I piped up with questions about her character, trying to figure out how, in my opinion, her character would tick and react to the events unfolding around her. Rachel would in turn ask who exactly the main character in my story was considering I tended to switch points of view with different segments.
I didn’t really have a good answer for her, as several characters could take up the mantel. The scope of my story, the cast of my characters, was large enough to warrant multiple points of view that allowed the reader to see what was happening at different points, from different places, of the story. Rachel, on the other hand, has the one main character with a whole world around to explore, get lost, and interact with.
We both just started this adventure of reading each other’s stories, and I’m very interested to see what kind of critiques we’ll both give each other.
What about you? Which do you tend to develop or focus on more in a story, plot or characters?