1. BecauseIWasBored
    Offline

    BecauseIWasBored New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2010
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    1

    Character Driven vs. Story Driven

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by BecauseIWasBored, Jul 20, 2010.

    I've heard these terms for a while, but they've always confused me. From what I understand, a character driven plot is when revolves around character development, and story driven plots focus more on the actual storyline.

    But I've always thought that character, story, and plot were supposed to go hand-in-hand; so it seems a little pointless to develop one aspect more than another to me.

    Anyone have any thoughts?

    (And if my definitions of character and story driven are wrong, my apologies.)
     
    1 person likes this.
  2. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    Okay--
    You have a character. She has a secret in her past.

    Story driven: Someone gets close to learning her secret. He blackmails her. She meets him at dawn and hands over the money he demands. She has terrible financial problems after this and all sorts of hardships befall her. Just as things start to get better when a rich man falls in love with her, he blackmails her again. She commits suicide.

    Character driven: Someone gets close to learning her secret. She is being blackmailed. She sets traps to discover who the blackmailer is. She contacts him and tells him to meet her at dawn. She bargains with him. He seems to agree. She later realises that he is still a danger to her. She tracks him down to kill him because the secret could destroy her whole family.

    Story driven just tells you what events happen to your character. Character driven has the actions of your character, according to their character and inner motivation, establish the plot and drive events forward.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. Islander
    Offline

    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,542
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    Sweden
    Interesting, that makes it clearer for me.
     
  4. Fantasy of You
    Offline

    Fantasy of You Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    Messages:
    369
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    England
    I don't agree with this fully. You may have a story driven book in which the protagonists play an active role. The Foundation series focusses very much on events & time line, over individual characters (though there are some great ones - and they aren't acted upon, they act), and is very much a story driven series.

    A piece that is driven by the story simply means the characters could be anyone, replaceable because they are vehicles through which the plot is moved along. Whereas a piece that is driven by the characters means the characters are the focus of the story.
     
  5. BlueWolf
    Offline

    BlueWolf Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2010
    Messages:
    168
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Germany
    For me, at least, they both go hand-in-hand. You cannot have one without the other, as both influence themselves upon the other.
     
  6. arron89
    Offline

    arron89 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    2,460
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Auckland
    To an extent, character and story are always going to be interrelated. What character-driven and story-driven refer to is simply what provides the main drive in the book. Is your novel one that focuses strongly on one character, exploring their personality as the story progresses, emphasising their personality and their development (as in American Psycho, or almost any of Bret Easton Ellis' novels)? Or is your novel driven by a complex and compelling narrative: a mystery that needs to be solved, a quest that needs to be undertaken, a big historical event?

    The best way to see the difference is to find books for yourself and try to classify them. Have a look at your bookcase and try to decide whether the author is mostly concerned with depicting a character or cast of characters and their personalities and relationships, or whether they are most interested in telling a compelling story. Obviously there will be some overlap, but more often that not it is one or the other, and dependent to a large extent on genre. There are few character driven crime novels, for instance--while you could argue that character plays a large part in a number of detective series, the development of the character is always second to the advancement of the narrative.
     
  7. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress


    The point is that the decisions that the characters make drive the action--and they would not make these decisions without certain elements in their personality and past being present. For this reason, no, the characters are certainly not replaceable. Without the character's actions there is no story line.
     
  8. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    I find if I am writing in first person the characters personality, thoughts, feelings decide the way the story is told. If I am writing in third person the story determines the characters personality, thoughts and feelings.

    My mind may change as have only written two short stories in third person I am more comfortable writing in first person.
     
  9. Fantasy of You
    Offline

    Fantasy of You Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    Messages:
    369
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    England
    You are confusing replaceable with removable.
     
  10. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    ^^ No, I am not. I said what I meant.

    I said replaceable, as in, it is not possible to replace the character with another without the story turning out differently.

    You bring up the word 'removable', and the same thing applies.

    In character-driven writing, the particular characters are essential for the plot.

    I hope you can understand me now.
     
  11. Fantasy of You
    Offline

    Fantasy of You Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    Messages:
    369
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    England
    I said:
     

Share This Page