Young Writers Society

Home » Forums » Creativity Corner » Fiction Discussion

Which is more important: Characters or Plot?



User avatar
23 Reviews



Gender: None specified
Points: 906
Reviews: 23
Fri Jan 03, 2014 8:46 pm
CowLogic says...



Should the characters drive the plot, or should the plot drive the characters? or are they both equally important?

Which is more important to develop first before writing?

Originality of which is more akin to literary success? Think about the most popular books out there that have somewhat flat or less-developed characters, but great and original plots, and vice verse.

Is starting out characters as flat on purpose, then giving them complex development a good tactic? (Often done seriously in film, humorously in Cabin in the Woods)

What advice do you have for developing both a great plot and great characters simultaneously?
The course skin of a thousand elephants sewn together to make one leather wallet.
  





Random avatar


Gender: Male
Points: 240
Reviews: 5
Fri Jan 03, 2014 8:49 pm
MrHolmes says...



I think the characters are what push a story cause if you have a good plot and little character development the story doesn't have much meaning
  





User avatar
116 Reviews



Gender: Female
Points: 9869
Reviews: 116
Fri Jan 03, 2014 10:02 pm
InfinityAndBeyond says...



Could work either ways, if the plot is going down a certain path the characters could change to fit the plot but the characters in my opinion make the story their the ones people remember most so in that case have to be awesome/interesting in their own way, hope that helps cow!
  





User avatar
23 Reviews



Gender: None specified
Points: 906
Reviews: 23
Fri Jan 03, 2014 10:12 pm
View Likes
CowLogic says...



One could also argue that characters don't stick with you was well as plot does, though. For example, I can remember reading plenty of books in my youth, yet can't remember what the main character was like.
The course skin of a thousand elephants sewn together to make one leather wallet.
  





User avatar
158 Reviews

Supporter


Gender: Male
Points: 1935
Reviews: 158
Fri Jan 03, 2014 10:52 pm
View Likes
Veeren says...



Can't have a plot without characters can we?
Anyone can have characters without a plot.
It'll just be more of documentary then though, right?
Right?
Riiiight?
"Love is the name for our pursuit of wholeness, for our desire to be complete."
-Plato's Symposium
  





User avatar
172 Reviews



Gender: Female
Points: 0
Reviews: 172
Fri Jan 03, 2014 10:55 pm
View Likes
Laure says...



Character drives the plot.
what's Harry potter without Harry?
What's The Great Gatsby without Gatsby?
What's the Hunger Games without Katniss or President Snow?
..

I think you get my drift.
  





User avatar
590 Reviews

Supporter


Gender: Female
Points: 76
Reviews: 590
Fri Jan 03, 2014 10:57 pm
View Likes
fortis says...



I really think you should try and get them the best you can be, and if one turns out better than the other, that's just your writing style. I think they're both important to planning, and building on one means building on another.
You can get inspired to write a story through one or both of those. For example, your inspiration might be "I wanna write about divers discovering a horde of nuclear bombs at the bottom of the marina trench." That would be plot-based inspiration, and you would develop that first, basing the characters on what would move that plot along the best.
Or, your inspiration might be "I wanna write a story about a guy with tentacles for arms" and then you would write the plot how it should naturally stem from tentacle-related shenanigans.
Alternatively, your inspiration might be "I wanna write a story about a guy with tentacles for arms who discovers a horde of nuclear weaponry at the bottom of the marina trench." In that case, you'd have to focus equally on developing your character in just the right way that he ends up fulfilling what you had in mind for your plot.
That's what I think anyway.
Instead, he said, Brother! I know your hunger.
To this, the Wolf answered, Lo!

-Elena Passarello, Animals Strike Curious Poses
  





User avatar
104 Reviews



Gender: Female
Points: 4629
Reviews: 104
Fri Jan 03, 2014 11:13 pm
View Likes
comrie says...



To me, characters stand out when I read. It's what I remember most after putting a book down. But a plot can be memorable too. Generic, the whole 1+1=2 type plots bore me and don't make me feel anything. And I like to feel something when reading.

So I think they're both important. But I'm leaning more on the character side. I think it's because, like I said before, they're what I remember most after reading.

I don't think I have any advice on developing great plots seeing as I'm struggling through creating one for my current novel. But! I think I could offer some advice about creating characters. It's one of my favorite things about writing. With my characters, I like to focus on the little things. Little quirks and flaws. Things that make them unique. I feel like the best way to introduce characters is through indirect characterization. This is the whole showing vs. telling thing everyone goes on and on about. I don't want my characters to simply introduce themselves; I want them to invoke emotional responses from people.

In my opinion, characters that make you feel something are the best kinds of characters. Whether it's amusement or disgust, anger or confusion, any character that's able to affect me in those ways is a good character, despite what they actually do in the story, good or bad.

...I just realized how disgustingly lengthy this is. Sorry about that! I think I might have answered two of the questions, haha.
  





User avatar
181 Reviews



Gender: Male
Points: 8839
Reviews: 181
Fri Jan 03, 2014 11:22 pm
View Likes
JohnLocke1 says...



In my humble opinion, characters are the plot. Therefore, they are going to need to be strong. How characters interact with one another and deal with one another is a story. A plot is simply another name for it. When I am writing a story, I often develop a world to place my characters in. For example, "Demons are secretly living under the nose of society." Now, what happens? I have to construct characters to make the story. Which is the point: they make the story. I don't think that characters drive the plot or the plot drives the character. I think that they are one in the same, which is why we all find stories so interesting.
"To prejudge other men's notions before we have looked into them is not to show their darkness but to put out our own eyes." - John Locke
  





User avatar
19 Reviews



Gender: Male
Points: 500
Reviews: 19
Fri Jan 03, 2014 11:25 pm
Dragon99 says...



I think of both, you can't have a great plot with dull characters and great characters in dull plots, they need each other to survive.
The Pen Is Mightier Then Dragon Fire
  





User avatar
933 Reviews

Supporter


Gender: Female
Points: 4311
Reviews: 933
Sat Jan 04, 2014 1:40 am
View Likes
Iggy says...



I don't think you can pick one over the other. You can't have a plot without characters and you can't have a character without a plot. Doing either is boring and there would be no purpose to the story.

An equal balance is important when it comes to plots and characters. The plot drives the characters and vise versa. A boring plot with interesting characters is just as boring as boring characters in an interesting plot.

I really can't pick one over the other. They go hand in hand.
“I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then."
- Lewis Carroll
  





User avatar
110 Reviews



Gender: Male
Points: 6441
Reviews: 110
Sat Jan 04, 2014 1:56 am
View Likes
Gardevite says...



I think it's like yin and yang. Two amazing things that need each other to exits.

I personally wouldn't buy a book about perfectly developed characters sitting at home, have breakfast at nine every morning, then watching a bit of tv, playing a game of Tetris on their phones etc. For the entire novel. I don't care how fleshed out the characters are. Daily life is boring. There needs to be some conflict. There needs to be a story.

Now, it's perfectly easy to find a book with a great plot (as outlined in the blurb), but very flat characters. The problem is that you don't really realise until you've bought it (because no friend would lend you a book with awful characters, not a real friend). It's easy to fall into that trap. But characters make the plot. Yeah, the whole idea of Hunger Games is cool and all, but it's Katniss' story that we love. We love the character's plot. So a good plot without good characters is sort of useless.

It's exactly like yin and yang. Character and plot need each other. Neither is more important. If Hunger Games focused too much on plot, the reader would be like "ok. Cool, people are dying in a game, why should I feel anything for these characters who are dying. I don't care."
Butttt if it Hunger Games focused too much on Katniss people would be like "She has been sitting in a tree, doing nothing for the last forty pages, I thought this was supposed to be exciting."

Yin and Yang, my friends. Yin and Yang.
Formerly Hightop


Garde's Reviews
  





User avatar
23 Reviews



Gender: None specified
Points: 906
Reviews: 23
Sat Jan 04, 2014 4:40 am
View Likes
CowLogic says...



The latter was my impression of the Hunger Games, to be honest.
The course skin of a thousand elephants sewn together to make one leather wallet.
  





User avatar
110 Reviews



Gender: Male
Points: 6441
Reviews: 110
Sat Jan 04, 2014 8:19 am
Gardevite says...



I'd disagree. I thought the games were exciting enough. I really had hoped that it would be a bit more like Casino Royale, where the viewer (reader? Was that a book?) was just thrown into the exciting bits. To be perfectly honest, I really wish that that love triangle never happened. I mean how amazing would that be? If she just killed him, instead of that double suicide crap.
Formerly Hightop


Garde's Reviews
  





User avatar
1007 Reviews



Gender: Male
Points: 13831
Reviews: 1007
Sat Jan 04, 2014 3:17 pm
TimmyJake says...



I think I would have to agree with @HighTop, @Iggy and whoever else said this... except when it comes to Hunger Games... The movies and book are both awesome... :D

I think that it takes an equal amount of both, but usually you don't get an awesome character without an awesome plot, because they work together... And actually, watching a movie with terrible actors draws you away from the movie, no matter what the plot is. And the same thing with good actors in a movie without a horrible plot. I mean, if they had a movie with Katniss Everdeen playing checkers for two hours, who would watch it?

I think they go hand in hand, taking an equal amount of both to make a great story...
Used to be tIMMYjAKE
  








Don't be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart.
— Roy T. Bennett