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.

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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.

Another one bites the dust

Day 2…Actually, I surprise myself that there is a day two, at least this soon considering what a procrastinator I am. And let me say, I am exceedingly happy to share this small milestone with y’all.

It is Saturday and the day started pretty much as usual except no Dr. Phil. It’s around 3pm and I have this small block of time because house mate #1 had to work and #2 is on the couch snoring. The dogs are napping and yes, they too are snoring. I think I’d rather hear the sound effects from canasta.

The last few hours I’ve been on the computer setting up Google Reader to receive information on magazines that accept articles or stories from new writers along with guidelines and pay scales. I’m surprised that there are so many. I probably won’t start going through them until Monday. I’ll try to make the entries short for easier readability; so, having said that I think I’ll start sorting through some of my work in hopes of posting parts of them for your reading enjoyment.

A few very good reasons…

Being a procrastinator, (for a long time) I have created some believable reasons why I can’t get on with the writing. Take today; for example, I had to clean the house…well I actually did very little cleaning today. Thinking of the things that I had to do really tired me to the point where I decided to take all of my allotted writing time to set up this blog. Hey, at least it was something constructive.

Hang on a second, all this work has made me thirsty, and maybe I need a quick snack too, brb. Ok, My typical day starts something like this: I get up. Seriously, anyone suffering from arthritis or ruptured disks knows that getting up requires a major effort. The first thing I do upon getting up (usually 8:30am) is get my Large cup of coffee with French vanilla creamer and sit in my recliner slowly sipping while listening to my house mate play Canasta on her computer. My eyes are closed as I rock back and forth savoring the aroma and flavor of my sweet treat, my senses riveted on the low calls of red threes, jokers and multiple canastas emanating from speakers. I know it will be but a short while until Dr. Phil comes on. I’m not sure if watching him has become an addiction. All I know, for my day to go according to plan, Dr. Phil is a must.

If I’m inspired, (not often) I may do some writing. If not, I begin my routine of seeing to the animals. Next comes the cleaning I mentioned earlier. Dusting, vacuuming, doing laundry, cooking (I only cook Mon thru Thursday) all of which takes me the entire day to complete. Nights are taken up by avid tv watching. So, as you see, there is very little time to actually write. And let’s not forget the cat’s that are banished to my office which makes it really difficult to write there. My cat’s like lots of attention and they eagerly help me write by walking on the keyboard, all the while purring with glee at the new words created on the screen. I do believe my spell checker actually began to smoke once when the two of them fought for the right to rub their butt on said screen, while simultaneously slobbering all over my hands. Got to love them.

My day ends around 11:00pm and I’m usually too sleepy to contemplate anything but my bed. Do I go to bed happy? You bet.