Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Plot vs. Character

Is it even a question? Obviously we need both.

I've been thinking a lot about this recently. I really wanted to go to a class at the OCW conference by James Scott Bell. This "Plot vs. Character" debate with Nick Harrison seemed my only opportunity. It got my mind turning.
(It also proves my point....I went to go see the characters speak, not particularly for their subject matter. ;-)

The debate was interesting, but it didn't really satisfy me. I don't think their will ever be a conclusion.

On the surface level, my first question is-- What classic (book that has withstood the test of time) is remembered for it's great plot elements?
I admit that I forget details rather easily. There is just to much coming in too keep it all straight. Any book I remember I certainly remember for the characters...even if I have no idea what they did. :-)

All things are propelled by character. Think about it. What happens without the action of someone's character? Plot cannot happen without characters. Characters make a plot. (They can make a very bad one by sitting around and eating Lucky Charms, but it's still there.)
The actions of the plot my not always be propelled by characters in the book's pages, but they were put into action by someone.

On a deeper level, my mind rambles...
Why do we write?
I believe we write because God created us in His image, and that is to be creative!

How does the world work? Did God create the plot of the world and then make the characters to fit the purpose? Or, did he create the characters predestined to fulfill His plot for the world?

Obviously we can only begin to attempt to imitate God and His creativity. Maybe this bares to no relation to plot vs. character at all. Maybe it does.

In conclusion.

It's pretty easy to tell if an author is a plot first or character first novelist. I didn't need anyone to tell me which side Nick Harrison and James Scott Bell would be on. You can tell by their writing. Is this a bad thing? I don't think so. We just need to like both the subject/plot and characters.
We all have different strong points and we all have so much we can learn from the other!
Many character first novelist would be lost without good plot advice and many plot first novelist would be.... Well, they'd be in pretty bad shape without some good characters!

I still haven't figured out if I'm a plot first or character first writer! Most of the time I think I'm a a character first.

All my story ideas begin with a name and character. He wants something or is in the middle of something horrid. Then I have to go back and actually fashion a plot. This makes me think I'm a character first novelist.

But sometimes...I really feel like a plot first. I have this horrible habit of having things happen to my protagonist. Wretched or wonderful things are happening, but my character hasn't really done much to get those going. This is especially prominent with my female characters. There's a intricate plot going on, but its happening to the character.

Maybe I'm just equally bad at both. ;-)

Have any thoughts on plot vs. character?

Thanks for reading this ramble.
Miss Pickwickian


Ben said...

Sweet graph.

Lila Swann said...

Yes, that's an awesome graph!

I remember back when I first started out, I was definitely a character-first sort of person. That quickly got boring when nothing ever happened, haha! I think the best character-first writers are also plot-first, because they are so integral to the other.

Lovely blog! :)

leslie gould said...

From what I've read of your work, I you're character driven. In fact, I'm still thinking about your characters...

Miss Pickwickian said...

Thanks guys.
I found the graph on Google images, but it looks an awful lot like James Scott Bells.

Thank you! At least I got something right with my characters if you can still remember them! Yeah!
Hopefully I'll figure out all this plotting stuff.

Thanks for commenting.

Polka Dot said...

I think you are sorta both. You have way more epic-ish plots than I do, but you also have super cool characters.

Basically, both things are very important.