Booking Through Thursday: Character or Plot?

What’s more important to you? Real, three-dimensional, fleshed-out fascinating characters? Or an amazing, page-turning plot?

(Yes, I know, they are both important. But if you had to pick one as being more important than the other?

Oh, how incredibly cruel to make me choose! In a perfect world, these things walk hand in hand—an amazing, page-turning plot is the result of actions of real, three-dimensional, fleshed-out fascinating characters. I know I’ve said in the past that I prefer plot, but after spending quite some time writing about Kitten from Breakfast on Pluto, I’m going to go with characters here. It’s hard not to fall in love with the cheerful and narratively powerful Kitten; after all, Patrick McCabe gave her a happier ending in the film adaptation of the book, which I actually think is superior to the book. (Of course, I’m also taking a shining to film criticism, so I’m a little biased. But I thought this long before I took my Introduction to Film Studies class!) And, of course, Cal Stephanides comes to mind, Jeffrey Eugenides’ greatest accomplishment in Middlesex. When I was listening to the amazing audiobook while walking the dog, it was like I was walking side by side with the man.

But in a way, I’m being sneaky and having it both ways. Again, amazing plots are, in the best works of fiction, the results of amazing characters. I’m just choosing the cause, not the effect.

16 thoughts on “Booking Through Thursday: Character or Plot?

  1. I’m inclined to say from strong characters, all good things will come, because well developed and actualized characters will typically have all the necessary foundations for a good plot to be built around or upon…but in general, I’m going to have to go for the cop out and ask most politely: can’t I please have both? 😉

  2. Character! I love plot, too, and think a good plot comes from characters’ actions, but I always remember the hobbits and not the trip to Mount Doom. A strong, charismatic personality or a complex, intense one wins me over faster than anything.

  3. Character. I’ve read books that had a lot of strong characters and no plot. Books that have a lot of plot and bland characters typically only get half read by me.

    Having both is still much, much better.

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