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Character versus plot driven novels

I've had a brief hiatus for a few weeks while I get Book Two of my apocalyptic fiction series finished. It's coming along nicely. I'm also discovering books to read via an Amazon discussion so if you'd like to have some books recommended, please join in.

This new series is heavy on plot and character. I'm developing characters that readers want to care about, and also developing the plot. But which is more important?

Characters driven novels are described as novels that characters drive. Der. But they're more than that. They're stories that we love because we want to know what happens to the people in them. When I read To Kill A Mockingbird, I desperately wanted to read about the plights of Scout, Jem, and Atticus. I became a part of their lives. I didn't want the story to end. As a side note, I'm glad that Harper Lee is publishing the follow up story. It's on my To Read pile.

Whereas, plot driven novels tend to have the already structured hero, such as James Bond. We don't need to get to know 007, he's an interchangeable (though we do have our preferences, I'm looking at you Daniel Craig) simply because of the longevity of the series. We like James Bond stories because we like the action, we want to know how he gets out of trouble, how he catches the bad guys. A quick reference to his past is enough to satisfy us that he is human, after all, and not a drone for the British government.

Neither are right or wrong. Both have their place in the market. The strange thing is how this applies to  both standalone fiction and series fiction. Bond is a series, Friends is a series, one is plot drivine one is charcter driven. Yet I like both.

The Hunger Games for me is the perfect example of combining the two elements. We care about the characters and there's a lot of plot and action.

It's a matter of personal choice. But here's what character driven novels have over plot driven novels - the ability to pull at the heart strings. Plot drives the characters, and character drives the plot.

Here's a personal example. The company I work for is being wound up. I've been here three years. I've done a variety of jobs. So it's the character of the organisation that has kept me here, not the work. So if this was the story, it would be character driven. Plot drives the character to do something, not the other way around.

For example, my YA novel Feedback is definitely character driven. The story explores what happens to teenagers who receives the organs of a spy. It shows them mourning for their pre-disease lives, and then learning to live with new hope, and then having that hope ripped away from them. Plot drives the story forward when they get kidnapped, and then they have to locate bombs and disarm them.

As a bonus, for all of May 2015 Feedback ebook is reduced to 99c.


Which do you prefer? Character or plot? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

About the author:

Not one to accept being put into a box, D L Richardson writes speculative fiction for readers who likes a twist in their tale. She now has six books published and is working on an apocalyptic series and a dystopian novel.
You can check out her more about books at her website


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