On Writing: Character- vs. Plot-Driven
January 22, 2016 21 Comments
A couple of weeks ago I posted a request for my readers to ask me questions about anything concerning writing. If I haven’t gotten to your question, rest assured, I will.
Agyei Agyapong of Vestpalblog asked: “What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? How did you overcome it ?”
There are many challenges I face as a writer. One, dealing with a full schedule and just life in general. I address that issue here.
But that’s an issue that’s divorced from the writing process itself. As far as struggling with something directly with writing… I would say character development.
There are two kinds of serious fiction writers. There are plot-driven writers and those who tend to be more character-driven.
I was shocked when I heard recently that some people are prompted to start a book because of a character they made up that sounds interesting.
I could never do that. My book prompts are all “What if” questions, such as, “What if a full-grown family man discovered an imaginary world?” (Don’t bother buying this one yet because I’m revising it for a possible second edition.)
“What if a teenage girl falls in love with a guy …AFTER he dies?”
“What if…” Well, I’ll keep the rest a secret for now.
And so, ironically enough, that’s where other people come in. People who’s minds are character-driven. I need their help to add a little sauce and flavor to my characters’ personalities.
I purposefully surround myself with people who can look at one of my bland characters and figure out what makes them tick, what drives them, what are their weaknesses, and so on.
So, as a writer, figure out if you’re plot-driven or character-driven. That’s easy. The harder part is finding people who can be that other side of your brain and fill in those holes in your book.
Also, I’ve begun reading books on the topic of character development so that I can better train myself and stretch that part of my brain so that I can become more character-driven as I write.
I hope this helps. And if I think of other struggles I face as a writer, I’ll write about them in subsequent posts.