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  1. coolie96
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    coolie96 Member

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    Plot or Character?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by coolie96, Mar 11, 2011.

    Which is the most important aspect of a great story? A believable protagonist? Or a moving plot?
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Believable and realistic characters should move the plot along, I think. If your characters are more like real people than cardboard cutouts, then the plot will be driven by their actions and reactions to each other. I find such stories far more immersive and engaging than "plot-driven" stories, where the characters are moved around like pawns on a chessboard.
     
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  3. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Character. Doesn't matter what genre it is, for me. Plot mechanics just don't seem as relevant as human emotions.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto both reply posts...
     
  5. katica
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    katica Senior Member

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    They are actually equally important. If you don't fall in love with the characters than you won't have any attachment to the story or care what happens to them. If the plot isn't engaging, then you'll get bored and put the book down.
     
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  6. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are a lot of great works of literature which are all about the character - sometimes two characters standing around talking with nothing happening. There is very little where the plot is the leading thing, all the twisting and turning compensating for the wooden characters. The plot is just a situation; it's the reactions of the characters and the way they learn, grow and are relateable that get people raving about it.
     
  7. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    Remove Scarlet from Gone With The Wind , Delete The Trask brothers from East of Eden. Believable characters and their eccentricities ,internal turmoil, flaws (ad infinitum) is what keeps a plot buoyant

    A masterful plot without great characters a recipe for mediocrity
     
  8. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    A believable and moving character in a believable and moving plot? How's that? :D
     
  9. Silver_Dragon
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    Silver_Dragon Senior Member

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    I agree with Melzaar. Plot is just the situations the characters find themselves in, and I can't care about the situation unless I care about those involved in it.
     
  10. Lazy_Otaku271
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    Lazy_Otaku271 New Member

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    I believe that both are very important aspects of writing. However, if I had to choose one I would say that the characters are more important. The only really reason I say this 9is because of my own writing style. I start of with a deep character, and base the plot on what kind of things would happen to the character. This is the only reason I believe that a character might be more important than plot.
     
  11. Ged
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    Ged Senior Member

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    Whichever you choose. I don't believe in this fad/pressure/movement/whatever that characters should take precedence over plot.

    But I don't understand the question. All plots are moving.

    And I think it's all right to start from a plot and form characters who would do those things. Furthermore, I don't think you can have one without the other. Both are necessary; neither is more important than the other.
     
  12. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree both are important - I work equally on both. Something I said that keeps getting quoted on me lol

    If I start with a character I let them tell me the story, when I start with a plot it creates my characters.

    My first collection of novel length stories are character driven but they have what I hope are great plots, intriguing. The character's form the plot in a way.

    My second collection are plot driven but I hope the the characters are great - people seem to love Gus and Iris. The plot definitely helps create them though and form their personalities.
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Ultimately, nearly all successful fiction is about people. For a reader to be moved by a piece of writing, he or she must be able to identify with a character on some level.

    So character is generally what makes or breaks a story. Plot or storyline serves to reveal character by creating an impetus for the characters to act and interact.

    But characters need not all be dynamic and complex. A character can also be unchanging and idealized. He or she is unmoved and unchallenged, but acts as a catalyst for change. As an example, consider Mary Poppins. As a character, she is largely unmoved and unchanging, but she turns people's lives upside down, and even what may seem disruptive is ultimately beneficial to those affected. Another such character was the mysterious Mr. Roarke of Fantasy Island.
     
  14. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    i believe if i have to chose just one (ideally it shoudl have both to be worth reading) it would be character. Because an interesting character is always worth reading about, while a plot however interesting without that charismatic/sympathetic/fascinating/original MC cant be nothing but dull.
     
  15. Ged
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    Ged Senior Member

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    Can someone give me an example of a plot-driven work?
     
  16. colorthemap
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    colorthemap Contributing Member

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    Characters are more important. Take The Standby Stephen King, the first 200 or so pages are boring as hell, but the characters are so well developed you can't stop reading.
     
  17. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose Active Member

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    Where is the line of demarcation between the two? Isn't the goal to weave them together?

    On a loom, which is more important, the warp or the weft? Without one, the other is useless.

    What if Scarlett O'Hara were introverted, fat and ugly and none of the boys liked her? It would be a different book.
     
  18. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose Active Member

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    The Hunt for Red October or most any other Clancy work.
     
  19. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the da vinci code... and just about all of stephen king's works...
     
  20. JPLayne
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    JPLayne Member

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    I think the plot should be solid and should serve the characters by bringing them to life revealing who the really are to the reader.
     
  21. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    For me, it's character. I can read a whole novel in which practically nothing happens, so long as the characters are interesting and believable. But if I'm reading a novel with a highly-intricate plot whose characters are dull and just constructs made by the author to serve the plot, I wind up bored.

    Here's a point: I think it's likely that younger readers will like plot-driven fiction more than older readers, because they haven't read very much in their lives. Any cheap action story with a stock hero and a couple of nice tense scenes will satisfy people who haven't read very much, or even seen many movies. Older readers, or at least, people who have read more, will be bored with stock heroes and the same old action set pieces over and over again, and will appreciate new, deep, and interesting characters. Those characters will tend to involve themselves in more unusual plots as well.

    A reader's tastes may change throughout his life, just like his taste for food does. When he's a kid, he wants sugar and chocolate and hates vegetables, but as an adult he may come to appreciate caviar and fine wine.
     
  22. Ged
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    Ged Senior Member

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    I read it when I was 13. I remember liking it somewhat, but I don't recall much of it.

    How does one differentiate between a character-driven and plot-driven work, then? Both of them have plots and characters. This dichotomy has always struck me as false.
     
  23. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    While (most) stories contain both elements, only one can be in focus at a given time. Put the distribution of focus onto a set of scales and see which weighs the most.

    You might see it like this... Plot is the subject, character is what the subject means to the people in the story.

    Indiana Jones is plot driven. The subject is the search for the Ark of the Covenant. This search and the problems related to it takes up about 90% of the screen time. What the search means to Indiana personally is almost ignored. All we know is that he doesn't want the Nazi's to have it.
     
  24. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    But then if the characters are never put to the test (=nothing happens) or end up in situations that force them to act, how can you tell they are interesting?
     
  25. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it's not false... for instance, 'coming of age' novels such as 'the catcher in the rye' are character-driven, while ludlum's and king's stories are plot-driven, despite the strength of or partial focus on their main characters... that means the readers will care more about what happens next, than they will about how the main character feels about it...
     

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