Are your stories more Character Driven or Plot Driven? [POLL]

Many debate about which approach is superior, but the answer can be summed up to personal preference. Furthermore, most stories require a healthy balance of both. So: which one do you lean towards?

Qualities of the aforementioned literary devices:

Character Driven

  • Emphasis on character development, and relationships between cast
  • Emphasis on internal conflicts, self discovery, and character growth/recession
  • The characters react according to their personality and the plot follows them
  • Emphasis on life-changing events, realizations, or beliefs
  • The character(s)’ changes doesn’t necessarily affect the world/society
  • Stories may have a goal that is more internal, such as changing an attitude or becoming something

Plot Driven

  • Emphasis on events, and how they cause/effect other events
  • Emphasis on external conflict
  • Character(s) aren’t prone to change as the plot advances in a manner that forces them to make quick decisions
  • Think: plot as center stage, where the characters are enhanced accessories
  • The changes and stages of plot may affect the world/society
  • Story goals are more external such as obtaining, winning, escaping, or changing a situation

And because everyone loves polls:

Which of these literary devices do you lean towards?

  • Character Driven
  • Plot Driven
  • Both
  • Unsure

0 voters

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My books are always character-driven (I also prefer reading character-driven novels). Characters make or break a book for me and have always been the most important part of enjoying a story, so that’s probably why I have heavy preference for it in terms of both reading and writing.

The Raven Cycle wasn’t the strongest in terms of plot (it was quite weak, to be completely honest), but was very strong in the character department and that made me fall in love with the series. I can endure a weak plot if there are solid, intriguing characters.

9 Likes

I think my ratio is 60:40 character-driven to plot driven. I spend 80% of the words writing character growth, inner thoughts, and personality but then they go through an external conflict and plot twists pretty much every chapter, I just don’t describe those as heavily as I go into the minds of my MCs.

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I am going to be honest. I don’t know.

Mainly because my story is in the planning stage sorta.

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I definitely prefer character driven stories, both to write and read. However, I think stories with at least some plot driven content are a bit more exciting. I like to mesh both, though I must admit, I have a hard time with the plot driven elements. Character driven elements to a story come much easier to me. For me, characters are the meat and potatoes of a story. I love the psychological and utterly human parts of a story. Without that, you can have cause and effect of something happening without human interaction but it reads more like a science essay than a story.

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Characters make it or break it for me. It’s very hard to find original plots nowadays, so characters and their backgrounds/motivations is really what separates a lot of books within one genre from each other.

Obviously, plot is important for many reasons (there should ALWAYS be some source of conflict), but like Name of the Wind, you can have pretty much nothing at all happen for 500 pages and still enjoy the book based on writing style, character development, and worldbuilding.

That being said, the Red Rising trilogy is a plot-driven series that blows my mind with its twists, tie-ins, and unpredictability, and yet the characters are some of the most unique and memorable characters I’ve ever read about.

So, I suppose balance is key.

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Definitely character driven. While they might not always be in control of the plot, it’s always all about them. Their development is the story, most of the time. And then there’s some outside plot sprinkled in there too.

With my current WIP it’s actually split between the two narrators. One is all about the character development, while the other is all about the plot and the adventure she goes on.

It’s really fun to try and write two very different storylines and narratives in one book.

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~~Ah yes, Raven I’ve expected you. :wink: ~~

I believe I’m primarily character driven minded as well. What do you think is the winning factor about character driven stories that you can’t seem to get enough of?

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That’s understandable. It will take getting to know your characters or plot before it becomes easier to visualize which device is intended to dominate (the story).

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You know what? This is tried and true to me. I can’t explain it. Maybe this is why I can also sit through a slice of life? You could have two people sitting in a blank, white room and it’d be the most interesting scene in the world because of who happened to be sitting in it.

Dialogue is also a big factor in character driven stories, I think. And most people drink up clever/insightful dialogue like it’s H2O.

Am I onto something here? I think I am…

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I would think this is a pretty sound/useful ratio to abide by. :thinking:

Your last statement makes a lot of sense. I can’t think of many plot driven stories at the top of my head (in the sense that they were memorable)—but I’m pretty sure there are some up there in the classics that some of us probably read in school or something.

The thing is, I noticed the stories I remember or the ones that stuck with me—had specific characters. These characters are usually the first thing I recall from a book—it’s usually never the plot.

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Thank you very much!

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I think it’s because characters are what we relate to most. Sure, we’ve all been through certain situations that we can relate too, but we relate more to the characters that go through them than the situation itself. We can invest our emotions in characters more than plots, we can put a piece of ourselves in characters and take a piece of them and put them in ourselves. We can make meaningful connections with characters that impact our lives on a grander scale.

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You might be on to something. I find that characters are to stories what paint is to canvases.

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I can relate. I think it also boils down to the authors preference, as stated m before. Adventure types of stories work brilliantly when majorly plot driven.

I feel like other genres or literary themes may not necessarily suit that kind of device (at least not when strongly emphasized)—it all just really depends.

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You’re right. What a mood.

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Definitely all depends.

I’ve written adventure’esque stories that were heavily character driven. But that’s totally my preference. My characters always come first. :smile:

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Honestly, a mood.

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