Character vs Plot driven novels

This is a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Generally I find there are 2 types of novels, or two types of ways you can plot/write a novel. These two types can be summed up as Character or Plot driven novels. So which is better? Which tells a better story? Which do you prefer to read?

These are all questions I’ve been asking myself lately. Let’s start out by comparing them.

Character Driven:

  • Create your character first.
  • Character(s) lead the way.
  • Development is based around character and his/her choices.
  • Personality is stronger, voice is stronger, narrative and dialogue come easier.
  • Following a character can lead to easy distractions.

Plot Driven:

  • Plot the novel first.
  • Plot drives the character.
  • Development decided based around story. (Sometimes making it a bit off or unlike your character).
  • Personality, and narrative can lack or create one dimensional characters.
  • Plot moves along more smoothly and with a clear objective.
  • Get to know your character as the book goes instead of figuring them all out at once.

These are just a few of the differences between styles. I tried to include both positive and negative side effects of choosing one or the other. Now you may be asking yourself: Kat, can these be combined? Why yes they can! And personally I think those make for the best stories!

Some examples of Plot vs Character driven novels:

  • HAVEN: Plot was created first. Haven developed along the way. The plot and pacing were always very clear to me, and this gave me the chance to get to know Haven (protagonist) as I wrote. This unfortunately led to some 1-dimensional background characters. The fix? EDITING.
  • SANCTUM: I’ve known Sanctum’s MC, Skye, since I was little. I created her back in elementary school, and her life/personality has always changed with me. Her story is very character driven, and she is definitely a strong character. The problem? Having Skye do her own thing led to a LOT of extra writing, and unnecessary scenes. The fix? EDITING.
  • THE ALDAR DOMINION: Plot and character were both worked on long before the writing started. As the plot came to be, so did Selene (protagonist) and her life. I both got to know Selene, and already knew her, just as I always had somewhere to send her in the end. Was there a problem? Of course! There is always a problem to work through. For The Aldar Dominion, that was both making Selene grow more throughout the novel, and adding in a bit more World Building, because this is one COMPLICATED ass world! The fix of course (if you’ve seen the pattern here), is editing. Editing is literally the fix to all problems (in writing that is).

So this has been my little post on comparing the types of plotting. Of course you can do both, or do either or. The key is to remember that your 1st draft is a 1st DRAFT. Do NOT send that to agents. Do NOT send that to editors. DO send it to betas or critique partners if you would like, but DO make sure they know it is your 1st draft.

That’s all for me today folks!

Stay classy internet.

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