Monday, January 27, 2014

Which came first? Plot or character?

This isn't really a chicken and egg kind of scenario. But the trick is to make it seem like one. It's to enmesh plot and character so tightly together that you can't conceive of one without the other. 


Some writers are plot-focused. The characters are vehicles they use to drive that plot. 

Some are character-focused. The plot drives the characters. 

But in both scenarios, both the characters and the plot are moving together. 

I come up with characters first, and build my plots around them. Mostly, at least. Lately I've been playing with plot and creating characters to suit it. It's a strange shift in thinking after all this time, but ultimately it's only one of those things that other writers care about, not readers. 

As long as both the plot and the characters are strong, and as long as you can't have one without the other, you're doing it right. 


  1. You know that quote of Henry James, right? "What is character but the determination of incident? What is incident but the illustration of character?"

    And yet I've never looked at my story in this way before, until you just mentioned it. I must be character driven, 'cause it was kind of a generic plot until I found the right characters, and then they rewrote the whole thing.

  2. The two are so reliant on each other - great characters are wasted in a weak plot and an amazing plot is wasted on poorly developed characters.

    I think each book is different, but with the last one I wrote, the MC came through loud and clear before anything else.

  3. I would be a plot focused writer, but I agree that they need to be completely together. I try to integrate them more with each revision I do. I think it works :)



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