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Character Or Plot What Drives Your Writing

By Expert Author: Steve Smith

There are two main ways by which you, as creator and master of your fictional world, make your story work: character and plot.
It is not a choice between one or the other. You must have characters - or who is going to do the action? And just as obviously, you must have plot, because what sort of story would have its characters doing absolutely nothing?
The choice is between whether plot or characters predominate; though you may find stories in which it is hard to tell because good, strong characters do so much.
What are the characteristics of a character-driven story?
The writer spends more time revealing the depth of the characters; particularly the main few characters.
While it is a good idea to start any story with action, the character-driven story will show the people in that story as being of vital importance to that action.
The plot comes from what that character would do in the situations that happen; which is why the writer has to spend time developing the character. The reader needs to be able to see that the character is acting consistently in that situation with the characteristics that have been shown so far.
There is likely to be more description of places in which the story happens, which adds to revealing the character's sense of place and purpose.
There is likely to be more scenes showing how the characters feel about certain situations.
The writer creates the character in such a way as to make the reader really care what happens to him or her.
The end of the story often draws the reader's emotions to care about the characters' futures.
What are the characteristics of a plot-driven story?
The reader is most often thrown into the action from the first page, and the sooner the better.
While creating real characters is important to make the story believable, the characters probably won't be revealed at such depth, so the background to the action is likely to be revealed in much more detail.
There is likely to be less description of places, other than what is necessary to show where the action is happening.
The story tends to move at a snappy pace to keep the reader intrigued.
There is usually a discernible pattern to the plot, with a continuing rise of suspense and action until the climax somewhere very close to the end of the story.
There isn't a right or wrong approach. The point is - what (or who) drives your story?

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