RARA-AVIS: Plot Vs. Character

From: bsandyman@att.net
Date: 29 Apr 2005

Hello all,

firstly let me say, I'm no writer. With that caveot let me plunge on to my observation. It seems to me that the mix of plot and character should be tied up with the story you want to tell and how you want to tell it.

Example of what I'm talking about. Let's say there is a series of 3 or 4 books covering a particular gumshoe. This gumshoe has been characterised already in the first books. So the author decides to mix things up a bit, both for her own amusement as well as to get out of a rut. So she writes a novel that is plot oriented. In this case lets say the book is called "The Bad Years" and chronicles a time in the gunshoes life when he has to run like a bat out of heck just to keep his head above water. (There must be some way to mix in another metaphor there...) She tones down the characterization and writes a high speed plot. One of the things about plot driven is that it can emphasize that the character is not in control. He is playing defense. This can be an aspect of why the years are bad.

Naturally our gumshoe comes out OK. The next book slows down and becomes more character driven. This gives the Author a chance to explore the effects on the gumshoe of living for so long, so hard. It can also be used to suggest the gumshoe is once again in control. Or at least in more control, and maybe a bit meaner then he was before.

So basically what i'm saying is that plot vs. character issues ought to be decided based on desired outcome. So how does characterizing my gumshoe here in this way affect the way the story works? Does it contribute to the style, the feel of the novel, or is it diffusing the effect I'm going for. How does emphasizing the plot here move the story forward, and so on.

Nice trick, if you can do it. Again, I'm no author.


-------------- Original message from "Chris M" <cptpipes@hotmail.com>: --------------

> Vicki - > > Thank you for bringing this up. This a great topic to noodle and it's > interesting to see that you (our expert of the month) grapples with this as > well. > > From the perspective of a non-writer who reads tons of hardboiled and noir, > there are times when I prefer the latest from Michael Connelly or Val > McDermid simply because I know I'll be lost in the manic twists and turns > they are so great at including in their books. This is not damning with > faint praise as I also think they creat terrific characters . But the > experience of reading one of their books is certainly different than > reading, say, Blood Meridian or even The Last Good Kiss. > > Chris > > > > > > RARA-AVIS home page: http://www.miskatonic.org/rara-avis/ > > Yahoo! Groups Links > > > > > > >
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