Character vs. Plot

I want to write a series of small articles dealing with the craft of writing. More specifically, my take on the different elements of the craft. If anyone stumbles upon my blog and disagrees with me, or would like to correct my assumptions, or add any comments, please feel free to do so.

Today, I am going to make a few statements about building the story around a character or building a story through plot points. Some would term this character driven stories or plot driven stories.

Let’s say you have a great character bumping around in your mind, but that’s all. Logically, you need to ask yourself lots of questions about this character. You need to know what this character wants, his/her goals. Once you figure that out, you need to place as many obstacles in his/her path as you can think of with each obstacle increasingly more difficult to overcome. With a character driven story, the character makes decisions about the story events that forces the plot forward.

On the other hand, let’s assume you have a great story to tell, but you don’t have any characters to populate your masterpiece. First, you will need to think about what kind of character can best tell the story you want told. Again, you need to ask yourself a lot of questions about this character. But remember, your plot points will force the character to react to them.

In summary, remember that with character driven stories, the character’s decisions or actions creates the events that drives the plot forward. In a plot driven story, the plot (events in the story) force the character to react and make decisions based on the events. The plot is more important than the character.
I have intentionally stripped this blog about character vs. plot down to the basics. There are more things to consider and in order to create the best story possible, but you will need to either do some online research or buy a book on the subject.


My Personal Writing Struggles

Story Structure…What does this mean?

Put simply, all this means is plotting the story before it is written. It involves asking yourself many questions about your main character, impact character and their goals. Asking questions about what kind of story you want to tell , what you want to happen in the story, and obstacles you want your characters to overcome (the more the better). Once you know as much about these elements as possible, then you arrange them into plot points that will best describe the story you want to tell.

However, there are many writers that feel this method of plotting the story beforehand inhibits their creativity. And so they proceed straight to the writing and trust that their muse will lead them in the right direction. I recommend trying both to decide what works best for you.

I’m reading a book now that I know will be very helpful in my journey to become a better writer.
“Story Structure Architect” by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, Ph.D.

I purchased my copy by way of Barnes & Noble.