Character versus Plot

12 Dec

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?


Posted by on December 12, 2016 in Home


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4 responses to “Character versus Plot

  1. Nthato Morakabi

    December 13, 2016 at 3:02 am

    I used to be a plot first characters second writer. Like you said, letting them do improv as they went. Only problem with that was getting lost halfway through the story because I don’t know how to get my characters to get to where I need them to go.

    Now I’ve started making both important. Characters have goals to the plot and as they are growing in the adventure, they are also progressing the plot. They still improv but only inside their circle of the story and must get them as close to their goals as possible.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. tahenryauthoress

    December 13, 2016 at 10:48 am

    It’s all about characters for me. I recently said in an email to a fellow writer than I can feel the unwritten characters in my brain pacing wanting to know when they will be allowed to take over.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Skye Hegyes

    December 14, 2016 at 12:24 am

    I like a good character-based story, but I also only follow the footsteps of a single character (sometimes two). I plot out entire storylines before I write, but I also leave enough wiggle room that the characters root their own way through it all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kris P.

      December 18, 2016 at 8:50 am

      That seems to be the happy medium. I tend to make a semi-outline after the first draft, then focus more on plot on the second round of writing.

      Liked by 1 person


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