Character versus Plot – Musing Mondays

This week’s musing from Miz B at Should Be Reading asks’¦

Do you prefer character-driven stories, or plot-driven stories?

I can’t chose, because for me a book has to have both well-defined characters and a good plot.  I prefer to have a balanced book which is both character and plot-driven.

There’s not much left to say really, but I suppose that I couldn’t believe in a plot-driven story without well-defined characters, so maybe I would prefer character-driven stories. For example, not a lot happens in One Fine Day by Molly Panter Downes, and I loved it.  But then it’s a psychological novel, being more about mind than action, about the pleasures and tragedies in life and there is plenty of reflection in it about sociological and cultural changes.

9 thoughts on “Character versus Plot – Musing Mondays

  1. Margaret – I have to admit I feel much the way that you do. There are books that I’ve enjoyed, certainly, where characters were stronger than the plot and vice versa. But honestly, I find it hard to enjoy a book if one or the other is truly weak.

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  2. This is almost a literary versus genre question. Literary books are often critiqued for being all about characters and their interactions, often with little in the way of plot. Genre fiction is sometimes criticised for being all plot, but with little depth in the characters or in revealing how the world works. Personally, the fiction that works best for me is that which has plot and well drawn characters as well as other aspects such as sense of place, show not tell, credible dialogue, cultural and social insight, and so on.

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  3. Very well said. Both character development and a good, interesting plot that makes me want to find out what will happen are important to me. Too much action without a compelling protagonist — who thinks a bit — turns me off. I have to like the main character.
    On the other hand, too much introspection without anything happening which I want to read about isn’t good either. A well-done balance is key.

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  4. I just read A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve which is a character-driven book and I loved it, but I think that’s the exception. Mainly I must have both wonderful characters and an absorbing plot. One of my favorite authors comes to mind to prove the point: P.D. James.

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