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Which is more important: the plot or the characters?



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  #1  
Old July 8th, 2009, 3:15 pm
RemusPotter  Male.gif RemusPotter is offline
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Which is more important: the plot or the characters?

I would say the characters. Because in your story, if the plot is not that great or if it has plot-holes, at least the characters make it more interesting. What do you think about this?


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Old July 8th, 2009, 4:42 pm
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Re: Which is more important: the Plot or the characters?

I have read stories that are entirely plot-driven, with generic characters that I can't be much interested in (the Golden Compass is an example - the characters were given quirky attributes, but they always seemed so one-dimensional and uninsteresting; Animal Farm and most of H.G. Wells books are also entirely about the dieas and plot, with little sense of characters). If the plot ideas are good enough, then I will read it as a narrative presentation of ideas that might otherwise have been an essay. Those can be good, but obviously, you have to have a very strong plot and/or vision of your alternate reality.

I have also read stories that were entirely character-driven but had little to no plot.The same rule applies - if the characters are good enough, then plot is just a structure to help elucidate the characters. I would include Catcher in the Rye as this sort of book, one of the most wretched wastes of paper and ink ever devised. On the other hand, The Scarlet Letter is largely of this type, and I enjoyed it (it helps that I did not read it as an assignment, but for my own fun).

I would say though that both are very important. My preference in a story is showing how the characters grow based on the experiences of the book. The characters must be fully fleshed out, but there should be plot which drives them to new understanding and development.

Except in comedy - then you can have either one or the other or both, without any sort of further development of the characters.


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Old July 9th, 2009, 3:13 pm
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Re: Which is more important: the Plot or the characters?

I think each of them has it's own importance, you cant write a story with a good plot while your characters are not well-written and vice versa. In Twilight for instance, there are some well-written characters perhaps like Edward and Alice Cullen, but myself I cant say "I like Twiligt" just because there are some good characters there, while it's plot IMO, not a very nice one. Also as said in the post above, it wouldnt be interesting to read a good plot while the characters are not well-described and one dimensional. I think the plot and the characters are of the same importance.


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Old July 28th, 2009, 7:57 pm
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Re: Which is more important: the Plot or the characters?

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Originally Posted by Dedalus Diggle View Post
I have also read stories that were entirely character-driven but had little to no plot.The same rule applies - if the characters are good enough, then plot is just a structure to help elucidate the characters. I would include Catcher in the Rye as this sort of book, one of the most wretched wastes of paper and ink ever devised.
I LOVED Catcher in the Rye!! I am definitely a person of the opinion that characters are by far the most important element of a story. If I don't find the characters interesting, I won't find the book or plot very interesting. Plot, imo, is only interesting when the characters involved in it are three dimensional and push it along because of their own personalities and quirks.


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Old July 28th, 2009, 9:20 pm
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Re: Which is more important: the Plot or the characters?

I think both are very important: I wouldn't read a book if I knew that either the characters or the plot is poor. (I read the Twilight books though, which IMO have neither good plot nor good characters. I only read them to prove how bad they are.) But if I must say one of them, I would say the plot is the most important. I couldn't read a book where the characters are great, while the plot is bad. It wouldn't be interesting enough. But I think both plot and characters should be at least good if I'm going to enjoy reading a book.


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Old July 29th, 2009, 6:08 pm
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Re: Which is more important: the Plot or the characters?

Ithink they each compliment the other, but i would say plot is slightly more important. It's like the plot is the skeleton and the characters are the flesh.


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Old July 30th, 2009, 4:57 am
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Re: Which is more important: the Plot or the characters?

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Originally Posted by Voldemorts8thHorcrux View Post
Ithink they each compliment the other, but i would say plot is slightly more important. It's like the plot is the skeleton and the characters are the flesh.
Well, that's a kind of...grisly way of putting it...

I would also say that both are quite important. You can't really choose between plot and characters -- there's a reason books are supposed to have both.

Personally, though, I'm more concerned with characters than plot -- good characters are really important to me, to the point where I tend to not like books if I don't have a favorite character (that's the only thing I like about Agatha Christie books -- there are so many characters that I can always latch on to at least one and say "HA! You will be my favorite!"). This gave me some problems with HP for a while (I liked lots of people, but didn't have any real favorite), and I actually didn't become really obsessed until I found a favorite character.

In a way, I'd say good characters are more important than plot because, in my opinion, if the characters in a book are really good, they will make an interesting plot (what with idiosyncrasies, desires, hopes, fears, life stories, etc.). However, a good plot will not automatically make good characters.

All the same, I still say that you can't really choose one or the other. Or at least you shouldn't when writing a book or story.


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Old July 30th, 2009, 11:24 am
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Re: Which is more important: the Plot or the characters?

A good story needs to have both. A good plotline is spoiled if the characters have no acknowledgable traits. Good characters require a nice plot so that their characters can actually evolve and develop.


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Old July 30th, 2009, 4:43 pm
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Re: Which is more important: the Plot or the characters?

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Originally Posted by BrianSeverus View Post
In a way, I'd say good characters are more important than plot because, in my opinion, if the characters in a book are really good, they will make an interesting plot (what with idiosyncrasies, desires, hopes, fears, life stories, etc.). However, a good plot will not automatically make good characters.
I quite agree a good plot without good characters is like a delicious cake without sugar


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Old July 30th, 2009, 5:05 pm
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Re: Which is more important: the Plot or the characters?

I believe there both very important and make a story evolve in its own unique way. Good characters drive a plot to the point where you can go to the end of the book and say you really liked it. A good and interesting plot give a book its originaility and life.

But for me its mostly plot. I've read books before where the characters are rather uninteresting/plain but the plot was so awesome it made me want to get to the end. Though I never wanted to go back and reread that story.


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Old July 30th, 2009, 9:05 pm
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Re: Which is more important: the Plot or the characters?

I'd most definitely say BOTH are equally as important, without a doubt.
You can have a fabulous, out of this world plot, but with the wrong characters it just won't work. Like Harry Potter. Part of what makes Harry Potter so amazing is the characters AND the plot, they come together nicely and are treat as equals. If Harry Potter characters were just your usual type characters it wouldn't be as good.

Similarly, an author can create amazing, funny, diverse characters but without a good solid plot which is equally as good, the characters have nothing to demonstrate themselves on.

It's definitely both I think.


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Old August 16th, 2009, 5:30 am
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Re: Which is more important: the Plot or the characters?

Both are very important I think, but characters are ever so slightly more important imo. They give you an investment in the plot, a reason to care about what happens next, because of the effects it will have on the characters. There are a few exceptions though I think. HG Wells is largely plot driven and the characters aren't particularly deep but, the uniqueness of the events are enough to keep me interested.


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Old September 8th, 2009, 11:03 am
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Re: Which is more important: the plot or the characters?

I agree, I think plot and characters can be intricately interwoven. In some ways they depend on each other. I really like to see characters that develop and grow with the reader alongside them on that journey.

I found this Musings on Writing on minisinoo's livejournal very informative to read. It's about plot but it's very clear that the characters are an intricate part of it, and can be what drive a plot forward and their change can be the plot itself.

Just some ideas as to the content:

quoteHuman beings are meaning-seeking, meaning-making creatures. From the chaotic mass of details that invade our lives, we construct some sort of "reality." This is why two different people can witness the same event but describe it differently. We're not recording devices. To live is to INTERPRET. To make sense of.

That's all "plot" really is. When we boil it down to the basics, it's the interpretation of a series of events. . . .


quote
1) Know where you're going.
2) "And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street ..."[*] or, Don't be afraid to let things happen -- even big things.
3) Constantly ask yourself, 'What am I accomplishing with this event/conversation/encounter?' Never let a scene do one thing when it can do three.
4) Consider carefully where a scene begins or ends -- if it feels 'off,' it may be starting too soon or extending too far.
5) Always show (don't tell/summarize) scenes that further the plot. Don't be afraid to summarize (or let occur off-camera) scenes that don't.
6) The author always knows more than she tells the readers, or Research, research, research -- but don't show those notecards on every page.
7) Foreshadow, foreshadow!
8) Interweave plot points so that as one subplot resolves another has already been introduced.
9) Keep it realistic. Unless writing intentional crackfic, we need to make sure that our idea is both possible and unfolds logically (a plot is an organic thing).
Plot derives from the nature of the characters, OR the nature of the plot requires certain types of characters.



Last edited by Annielogic; September 8th, 2009 at 11:08 am.
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Old September 9th, 2009, 4:50 am
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Re: Which is more important: the plot or the characters?

Both are important. I have read books with no character development and I couldn't get into the story. The characters are what draw me in....but even if they are great, and the plot is uneventful or uninteresting, I won't finish it. I think they work together to make a book great.


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Old September 9th, 2009, 11:39 am
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Re: Which is more important: the plot or the characters?

i suppose good characters leave space for an excellent fan fic!


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Old September 9th, 2009, 12:15 pm
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Re: Which is more important: the plot or the characters?

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Originally Posted by luvlunalovegood View Post
i suppose good characters leave space for an excellent fan fic!
Yes, good, strongly written characters, with development and depth to them, I'm far more likely to be interested in their struggles, determination, what they're hoping/striving for, perhaps what they represent. I usually find they are the ones who drive the plot forward (interwoven with it) or their change can be the plot itself. So, I think in a way, the characters and plot work with and depend on each other for both to shine to their full potential. Then, I find I'm much more invested in what eventually happens to them. Or in the case of fanfic, could happen to them and their environment.



Last edited by Annielogic; September 9th, 2009 at 12:34 pm.
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Old September 9th, 2009, 12:20 pm
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Re: Which is more important: the plot or the characters?

Both I guess. If there is only a good plot, you'll be bored to have boring stereotyped characters. If the characters are good, you'll be bored cuz there will be no plot so what's the point of reading the book?

So if you want to write a non-boring book, make good characters and a good plot-developing!


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Old September 15th, 2009, 3:37 am
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Re: Which is more important: the plot or the characters?

As a reader, I look for character first. If I can't make an investment in the characters, the plot falls by the wayside. Create great characters, throw in some conflict, then stand back and let them have at it.

Works for me.


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Old October 24th, 2009, 7:05 am
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Re: Which is more important: the plot or the characters?

Most of the people on here have said that they think both are important and I agree to a certain extent. I think there should always be a good balance between the characters and plot.

Most of the time, an author tends to focus on one or the other (intentional or otherwise), and I've found that I enjoy the character-driven stories the best. A plot is very important, yes, but it's usually the emotional growth and development of the characters that pulls me into the story the most.

Think about The Da Vinci Code. That entire book was packed with action the entire way through. It was a page-turner for me if ever I came across one, but it certainly wasn't the characters that kept me up late saying "one more chapter, just one more chapter." Don't get me wrong, the first time I read it, I was completely hooked. Then I started reading several of Dan Brown's other books (Angels & Demons, Deception Point, and Digital Fortress) and started to realize that his characters were nothing more than picture-perfect cookie-cutter experts from whatever field happened to be the subject of that book. There was always a ruggedly handsome and brilliant male who inevitably falls for the stunningly beautiful scientist-slash-yoga trainer. By the time I had finished the fourth one, I was sick of his characters and that started to really drag on my enjoyment of the plot.

Which brings me to a character-driven story instead. Honestly, I think character development can be a plot in and of itself. There may not be a significant amount of action or adventure but I've read books where a well written character became the adventure. The thrill of knowing what drove the character at the beginning of the book then getting the opportunity to see the person he/she became by the end is often more thrilling than an elaborate mystery.

I feel that the writers who can understand the depth of human nature and manage to capture that on paper have a gift beyond anything I could ever hope for.

So, in short, my vote is for characters!

- Inigo


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Old October 25th, 2009, 1:57 pm
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Re: Which is more important: the plot or the characters?

If anything, the main character that the story revolves around needs to be the most important with the plot backing it up.

I think both are important.
I've never read a book where I didn't like one or the other.


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