Friday, January 4, 2019

Character or Plot Driven

 Character or Plot Driven

         In writing circles, the battle rages on: Is a story character-driven, or is it plot-driven? One side states that character-driven writing focuses on the internal change of the character or characters rather than the events that take place. They state plot-driven stories focus on the happenings and external changes. However, how clear-cut are the two types of writings?

         According to the article “Character-driven vs Plot-driven Writing” by Dorrance Publishing,
            Plots that are character driven are commonly referred to as “literary fiction”
            due to the fact that they feature characters that possess multiple layers that are
            exposed as the story develops.
Note the author of this article says “plots that are character driven,” and plot means actions, happenings.

         The article sited above does state both character and plot are necessary for a good story, as does editor and writing coach Jeni Cappelle, “Every well-written novel must have a combination of engaging characters and a compelling plot.”

         Best-selling author and writing expert William Bernhardt takes the battle farther when he states the belief of character-driven and plot-driven being separate entities is a myth. He writes, “All fiction is character-driven.” [Creating Character, p 6] No matter what exciting happenings the writing may contain, it falls flat if the writer uses a flat, boring, or unbelievable character or characters. All good writings require “strong, dynamic, unique characters.” [p 11] As stated on the back cover of Bernhardt’s book, Aristotle wrote, “Action is character.”

         Everyone agrees that one must have both engaging characters and an attention-holding plot Bernhardt writes that combining imagination, insight, and first-rate writing skills creates the best characters. Great writers use the same qualities to develop compelling characters and electrifying plots. Both characters and plot combined take readers into a different world that exhilarates them and removes them from their own existences for a while and leaves them wanting more.

Sources, other than author’s own knowledge and expertise:
1. William Bernhardt, Creating Character: Bringing Your Story to Life.
2. Jeni Chappelle, editor and writing coach, “Plot-driven or Character-driven: Does it Really Matter?”
3. Dorrance Publishing