Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Characters & Plot

Earlier this week I was perusing my usual FaceBook pages and I came across a post asking about characters and plot. They wanted to know if the two are tied to each other or if one is more important than the other. The person also asked how are both developed. This really got me thinking, am I giving proper attention to my characters and my plot? What is the right amount of attention for my characters and my plot?

I first thought about the relationship between characters and plot. I decided the two are intricately woven together. You simply cannot have one without the other. Things are going to happen in a story that affects your character. These affects will change what the character believes and feels. These affects will also change how the character acts, which leads back to the story. How the character acts will affect the plot and could change the direction of the story.

Another way to look at the relationship between the plot and characters is how they help each other to progress and grow. A plot cannot move forward if the character does not have beliefs and feelings. If a character is passive and neutral with a lack of beliefs the character will not be able to make decisions or act. If they do not act a story cannot move forward. Also if there is no plot a character cannot be challenged and grow. It would be a pointless story if the entire plot was a character sitting at a table drinking coffee. The character seems pretty pointless in this example as well.

I have thought about what do I give more attention to, the characters or the plot? Trying to figure this out I looked at the two stories that I am currently working on. My processes for both were the same. I had an idea, I wrote down a bunch of notes on the idea, and then I organized it into an outline. From there I started making notes on story points and then began writing the story. As I go along in the story I see where I need to change things about the characters and the plot.

I did notice a difference between the ways my two stories have developed. One story has been centered around a character and the other has been driven by the plot. The first story is about a boy who relives the evils that a person does, when he touches them. My whole idea for this story has been based on how this ability affects the boy, so it is character based. The other story is about four tribes of werewolves that are being hunted by humans and the werewolves fight back. For me, this story started with the plot and has been driven by it.

I guess the only answer I have is, what is best for the story? I know. It’s not proper to answer a question with a question, but it’s the best I can come up with. I think there are stories that will center around a character and there will be stories that are driven by the plot. I also believe that as you create your story you need to stop every so often and ask, “Is this what your character would do?” Also need to ask, “Is this how the story should progress?”

I don’t know if I am doing the right things as a writer. As I have said I’m just learning. I like to think I am doing my best to apply the lessons I pick up. I think one of the best lessons I have picked up was from Victoria Dahl when she said, “I started having a success as a writer when I threw out the rules and just wrote.” 

Thanks to:
        Magnitude - Starving Writer by Minuiko @   
Sorry there aren't  pictures. I couldn't think of any good ones.