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Characters or Plot? What Do You Prefer?


35 members have voted

  1. 1. Which do you prefer to be the driving force in a story?

    • Plot
    • Character

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The best stories combine these elements in equal parts.


Plot without character is narrative.


Character without plot is... Lost.


^^ I totally agree Posted Image


I think a good story needs both elements.. neither can really be ignored.


But I guess if I had to choose I'd go for character. I think great characters have a way of making their stories unfold without the plot having to be as strong.

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I was actually really surprised that so many votes went to Character!


Then again - that's what i voted ;)


I do agree that both are important, but I really struggle with stories with 2D characters who just happen to get sucked into a plot and happen to have awesome hot clever girlfriends / boyfriends and happen to have hidden skills and talents to get through the plot line an author has thrust upon them and thence save the whole world. Ick. I much prefer something character driven. I could cope with the most cliched plot in the world IF the characters were well drawn and vivid.


I'd probably read an awesome plot driven story with cliched cliched 2D characters too... but imagining that I see it more as a parody than a story i'd take seriously...

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What if the plot is the character? :P


(Trying to find the little door into John Malkovich's head.)


I mean only a handful of authors write in stream of consciousness, but it is a style that mixes both together. It is a fun style to use and experiment with.


If you have a plot centered on the character's observations, thoughts, and memories, wouldn't the plot also be the character?

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I voted plot. If the characters are weak then I can at least make them more interesting in my mind. If the plot is weak then it will be hard for me to care at all. But in general I don't finish a story unless it excels at both.

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Of course, a combination of plot and character gives the best result.


But, since the voting was an either/or option I lumped for 'plot'.

To me the word 'plot' is almost synonymous with the word 'story' so it's almost like asking whether you want your story to be a 'story'.


The exception is where the author's message is the characters rather than what happens to them.

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I'm voting again for 'characters' and hoping nobody notices!


Put it this way: as authors, which way do you do it. (don't start getting naughty again on me now!). I mean, when you start on a story, clearly you have a basic premis. You know what you want the story - in general terms - to be about.


Then, which way round do you develop? Do you make a complete plot and then decide on a few characters to throw in there, or do you put your characters together, and let the plot come together in ways that's credible for those characters?


I remember JK Rowling relating how she started the Potter series. She said she was on a train from Edinburgh to London. The idea for the first story came and, by the time she got to London, she'd decided on, and described, most of the main characters.



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An appealing plot is usually what draws me to read a story.

I've read so much of the same 'boy meets boy' theme. When I see something different that stands out in the forward to the story, that's what attracts me most of all. I usually find that if the plot is interesting and well written, the characters are as well.

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Oh i don't know which I like more..... i think something with both good characters and a good plot...I've read a lot of books, but only a few do i actually like enough that I keep the books in my personal library over giving them away.... that being said though I have four book cases full of books....2 of which are filled with Fiction...

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Usually I'm always going to go for characters rather than the plot. If I cannot identify with the characters, then I'm not going to be able t get not the plot. But at the same time if there is a not a strong enough plot to support the characters, then it's going to be a really tough read for me.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Plot is the skeleton of a good story. Amazing characters that don't do anything are boring. But plot's more than describing stuff people do. It has to have direction and purpose.


A good story needs more than a plot, though.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I prefer Characters, I find if plot is the driving force and the characters are neglected, it will take over and disolve into an exhausting race from one drama to the next. Ideally for me, the characters learn from experiences or relationships 9romantic or otherwise) and gorw more interesting

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it be good if both where mix up ... one or other may get stale if nothing happens

i like both ... variety is good


I watched a character driven bw movie ... i sure did wish there was a plot ... but the same goes the other way around too.

i have seen where neither one worked ... watch supergirl or the stupid superman pranks ...


Superman returns was much better

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I really didn't want to vote :/ But in the end I had to choose characters. The way I see it, both the plot and the characters are equally important. They work hand in hand. Without the characters the plot won't go anywhere, and without the plot all you've got is a bunch of people hanging out.


It's really unfair that you made me choose :(

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  • 2 weeks later...

For me, it's character.


Ad a writer, they are the first things that comes to my mind. If I sit down to find an idea for something new, it'll be a character that's going to come to mind first. The plot come later, usually from the characters past or present.


As a reader, I need good compelling characters more than a plot. Of course, something have to happen, but i don't need a lot. Characters is what's going to stay in my head post reading, and it's what I am going to remember in ten years if I reread the book.

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What I look for in a story is what it can give me that other media can't: a certain relationship with language.


Television took over plot, and character too often for me relies on stereotyping or certain assumptions about retaining attributes over time.


The more I read, the more character and plot for me have become excuses for language. I can point to one of the first times I felt this way. I read James Joyce's "The Dead" after coming home late one night from a little affair I had sophomore year. Here's the final paragraph of the story:


A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.


Obviously I wouldn't deny the importance of plot or character, but for me both are an excuse for language, and both rely on language in ways we sometimes miss because we think of it as a transparent medium instead of a material (sonic, spatial) thing in itself.

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