Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Mans, Aug 17, 2015.
Creating characters or events?
Characters, though both are important. Good characters can make the most dull event interesting, but interesting events are never enough to make up for poor characters.
Events. I don't care what the characters look like - unless it has something specific to do with the story/plot, etc. All I care about: what are my characters DOING. What are their ACTIONS. Jason Alexander (the actor who played George Costanza on Seinfeld) teaches in his acting class that all things boil down to actions.
I believe there has to be a balance between the actions characters take and the motivations and other specifications, according
to which the cars (re)act. Otherwise you end up reading a hagwash of incomprehensible, meaningless actions and black and white characters. Understanding why the MC is doing what he's doing is what makes the story relateable.
I believe no character would be interesting in himself, if he just sat around doing nothing. I find the best way for the reader to get to know the character is through their actions, and their actions are a result of things happening that they need to deal with. So yes, events, because they are what show the true character of my characters.
But once you have good, well-developed characters, you can throw any event at them, big or small, and the reader will care because you have good characters. The first thing that comes to mind is Jane Eyre where not a lot of events occur - at least, not very interesting ones for most of the book - but Jane carried chapters and chapters of mundane happenings with her personality. The only really interesting event that happens in the first ten chapters is her seeing a ghost, which is probably just a delusion because she's upset at the time. Yet I was hooked.
On the other hand, if someone sits down and thinks of a series of events and then writes about them happening to dull, one-dimensional characters, nobody is going to care about the events. Even if they include radioactive dragons and an interplanetary war. *gets an idea for next book*
That's exactly what I thought. Mundane events take on new level of attractiveness if seen through the prism of the character's
Events... because they shape the characters who will be best suited (actually, worst suited) to dealing with that event.
Yes I agree 100%
Events first. It is the events that give the protagonists the opportunity to reveal their character. Even mundane events are what gives the character a canvas on which to display their thoughts and emotions. The choice of attire for a ball provides the opportunity to discuss the character's opinion on fashion, on wealth or lack thereof, and so on.
Ultimately it is not either or. It it like the old platform computer games. Something must appear beneath the character's feet to allow progress, but how the character tackles each obstacle reveals the inner person.
I think they are equally important. Kind of like you can't have one without the other. The character can create a cascade of events through their actions. Events can cascade upon the character and how they deal with them. Seems they have a relationship of sorts.
I usually start with events in the planning process. But everything is blurred and vague and generalized - i.e. - prisoner arrives at jail. But as I run down in my mind the setting, and think deeper on the characters ( not just the mc but who he affects - antagonists, future friends ), the event and the character becomes not two separate units but catalysts for a scene.
There can be no decent event without a character shaping it, and there can be no descent character without an event shaping him.
Both are equally important to me. If you have interesting, deep, complex characters but nothing interesting happens to them or they don't participate in or initiate a significant event then you'd have a boring story on your hand. on the other hand if you have your interesting events and conflicts and twists but the characters involved are bland and one dimensional, once again you'll end up with a less than exciting story
I think this is also affected by your 'camera'. Does the character tell the story? Or do you have all-knowing storyteller? In latter, I believe events thrive more!
Both if the characters can be interesting, including the events.
Question? If you don't put the time in on character development then how can you predict what your characters will do?
When I think of character development I think about their emotional core; what motivates them and their hopes and fears. Appearance is secondary. If a book does not have compelling characters that we can identify with and relate too, why bother reading it?
I think it depends on the story. A worst story is a boring story with no conflict at all. But an entertaining story can still be good, even if it has one dimensional characters. They still have motivations and flaws. However, they don't change at all.
Think of the Michael Bay Transformer movies. Those films are full of stereotypical characters, but their conflicts are what kept the audience watching. People just want to see robots fight each other, and the human characters are just cannonfodders to add drama. And people still watched those films.
Either action driven or character driven, a story needs to be entertaining somehow, or it will just be a dull boring story.
Films are different from books though. I can watch a 90 minute movie with a terrible script and characters if the visuals are interesting enough. No way am I going to sit and read 80,000 words of drivel, no matter how many robot fights there are.
You're more forgiving than I am. I can't make it though a 90 minute movie with a terrible script, I'll turn it off and go do something else.
I have a weakness for ostentatiously bad films. Especially if they feature sharks.
How do you define conflict?
Do you need external, shoot-'em up, bang 'em up conflict to be entertained or can you be just as easily entertained by internal conflict?
It's been a long time, but I can't recall any external conflict in Middlemarch, yet it has been heralded as one of the greatest books written in the English language.
AND--how can you have internal conflict if you don't have well developed characters?
A book about a pretty average guy working in middle management in middle-America would be boring as all get out. But if he were struggling with questions about his own sexuality, well, that could be interesting. (Especially if some of his family were member of the Westboro Baptist Church.)
I can't even sit through "ostentatiously bad" porn. LOL
I find internal conflicts much more interesting (and challenging, as an author) than external. Yet another reason I think characters are more important than events.
I am more of an action driven type of guy and I don't care about character's personal problems, unless it advance the plot somehow. If a story features giant robot battle scenes, I whether read about that.
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