Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Plot or Character in Fiction Writing: Which Is More Important? The Series Begins Here!

Which is more important: plot or character is the wrong question to ask!

Plot or Character in Fiction Writing: Which Is More Important?I am beginning a series that will continue over several weeks or more that explores the question of which is more important: Plot or Character?

Although it is an often asked question, I think it's the wrong question for the fiction writer to ponder. Both character and plot are vital to storytelling.

A better question to ask is:
Am I a plot driven writer or a character driven writer.

I suspect that you know instinctively which you are. It comes down to which you are more intuitively drawn: character or plot? There's no right or wrong answer. It is, however, quite helpful to know which you are. Knowing whether character or plot draws you when you are first developing a story gives you a better understanding of how the creative process finds expression through you. It will also focus in on areas in your writing that need more or less attention. 

I'm going to begin by examining character driven writing. In my thirty years of coaching writers, character driven writers outnumber plot driven writers four to one. Again, no value judgment here. You have to learn to do both!

Strengths of the Character Driven Writer:
  1. You depend more readily on intuition, emotions and the right brain as the entry way into your writing. This is helpful because the first part of the creative process depends heavily on intuition and right brain processing.
  2. You are more at home in the chaos of the first part of the creative process, where you are basically flying without radar and anything can happen.
  3. You see more readily through the lens of your characters. Thus you allow your characters to drive the story . 
  4. You are more at home with the unexpected. You may like roadmaps for your characters and story, but these roadmaps tend not to be detailed and are easily redrawn by the moods, actions and dialogue of your characters.

If you want to explore the rest of the series, put the word "character" in the search.
Stay Connected With Free Updates
Subscribe via Email
  • Blogger Comment
  • Facebook Comment


  1. Thank You, Emily, for this post. It's realy helpfull. I'm very interrested to read the next one : Pitfalls of the Character Driven Writer. Sorry for my bad english, I come from Qu├ębec, I speack French and write in French. But I'm able to read English. :-)Thanks again !!

  2. @Annie Perreault
    HI Annie,
    I am very much looking forward to writing this series, and I'm glad you like them. Please don't ever apologize for your English. That's the Inner Critic!!! And FYI to your Inner Critic, I didn't find anything in list bit off with what you wrote!!!


Your writing and sharing supports all of us!