What’s More Important . . . Plot or Character Development?

I’ve read many books on fiction writing while trying to develop my writing skills, and I’ve visited and subscribed to some great websites of author’s who have posted great advice. I’ve learned a lot. Each author has his/her own way of developing their stories, but I’ve learned that developing your characters first is easier than jumping right in to your story like I did. But, hey, I didn’t know.

However, character development was my weakest link. I had to take the time to know my character’s personalities. Once I learned who they were, how they’d act and react, my story became a little easier to write.

Characters are the story because they’re human. They have a past, they eat, they breathe, they evolve. They must go through physical and emotional setbacks and changes, ups and downs. But these things give them, and your story, life. Characters grow through trials and hardships just as we do, and they must also learn from their mistakes, and from the mistakes of the other characters. Good or bad, we root for characters, not plot.

It seemed I was spinning my wheels until I took the time to get to know my characters. I was so caught up in the plot and the setting that my characters suffered. They were one-dimensional stick figures, but when I turned them into three-dimensional characters, they and the story began to come to life.

If you’re a beginning writer of fiction, get to know your characters. If you don’t, your story will suffer. Picture your characters in your mind’s eye. How do they act and react?  Do they stomp their feet when they’re  angry? Do they sulk? Pout? How do they act when they’re happy? Angry? Worried? Betrayed?

Character development is harder for some than others. I believe that it is one of the biggest reasons stories get rejected. A great website on character development is Angela Ackerman’s and Becca Puglisi’s,  Writers Helping Writers, formerly The Bookshelf Muse. They’ve done an awesome job on their site, and they’ve written three books on the subject of character development, which are great reference and brainstorming  tools. Angela and Becca also have various sections on their site on descriptions  like settings, weather, colors, textures, shapes, symbolism, and much more. Check them out.

If there is anyone who would like to comment on this topic and help other writers, it would be appreciated.

Thank you and have a wonderful day!

“. . . for with God all things are possible.” ~ Mark 10:27

 

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12 comments on “What’s More Important . . . Plot or Character Development?

    • Hello Marsha, I’d like to encourage you not give up. It can sometimes be a struggle, but getting to know your character’s as if they were your best friends makes the journey a little easier. Jot down and map out every thougt of your story. Thanks for your comment, Marsha. Good luck to you.

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  1. I tend to let the characters develop as they go along. But I write adult fiction for the most part. I can see it might be better to think about this again when I write the occasional children’s book. I have published two for eight to twelve year olds but they were light and fun. If I get round to the more serious one I have in my head, I will re-read this post first. Thanks.

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    • Hi Rosemary, yes, sometimes it’s easier for some writers to allow their characters to progress naturally, for others, not so much. For me, it was easier to get a clearer picture of them mentally, as well as physically, before I could actually add some depth to their character. Thanks for your comment and the best to you in your career!

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  2. It sounds like your book will be a wonderful read since you’re not going it alone –but wisely building on the shoulders of wisdom. I ‘cheated’ by having my characters modeled after people I had observed. If someone shows a strong personality and catches my attention they are most likely going to end up in one of my novels (disguised of course). I’ve even been inspired by someone I’ve only spent a few minutes with. Some characters just beg to be in a book.

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

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