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Character vs. Plot Driven Novels

April 22, 2018

 

“What she was finding also was how one book led to another, doors kept opening wherever she turned and the days weren't long enough for the reading she wanted to do.”
― Alan Bennett, The Uncommon Reader

 

There are two types of readers, I have found reading reviews and interacting with the bookish community - those whose greatest reading pleasure comes from a strong plot, and those who can love a book purely based on its characters. I fall into the latter category and though, as I imagine most readers feel, would of course prefer a book to have a brilliant plot AND compelling characters, I can enjoy a story if the former is lacking.

There is no right or wrong here, of course. If we did not all have slightly different preferences, slightly different aspects in a story that pull us in, the world would be a boring place. That being said, I would be curious how others feel. Do you read for the story of for the characters? And what makes for a good story and a strong character?

For me a "good" character does not necessarily have to be a likable one, but she or he has to possess a certain quality that makes me want to know more about them. And if they are despicable, they have to have a motive I can at least sort of understand, if not justify. I think it is easier to provide a good character than a good plot, but maybe that is what I, as a writer, focus on the most. I want progress and I want development and often the story is dictated more by how I feel the characters will react than how I plotted it at the beginning.

All this being as it is, my very favorite books have both wonderful plot and characters, though I do believe the former would not be true were the latter not the case. What are your thoughs on this topic?

 

 

 

Tags: Books

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