Character versus Plot: Types of Stories


There are two types of stories, and at the risk of fitting writers into a tiny little stereotyped box–which I would never do–many writers tend toward one or the other in the majority of their works.

What are those two types? I am so glad you asked! Let’s take a look, shall we?

Type 1: Character-Driven

This type speaks for itself: the story revolves around the character. Their feelings, layers of  personality, decisions, and relationships are the primary force driving the story. When a new layer is revealed, or a relationship changes, the story takes a curve and a new obstacle or triumph is revealed. One of the main genres that utilizes the character-driven plot is Romance. In this type of story, the evolution of the protagonist’s relationship with his or her love interest is the driving force that propels the story forward. The drama also centers around the development of the character, showing us how experiences affect characters’ choices and weaving an intricate web of personalities and how they react to their circumstances.

Type 2: Plot-Driven

Admittedly, this is my personal style of writing. The story foregoes much of the character development in favor of driving primarily with plot. This is not to say there is little to no character development, but rather it focuses on what is happening, and what is at stake. Think of it as external versus internal: character-driven is often very internal, while plot-driven is more external. There is less focus on things like back story–although my first novel, “The Vu,” does have dreams that operate as flashbacks to further round out Sabella’s story–and more on the here and now. What is going to happen? What outside forces are going to wreak havoc on our protagonist? Many sci-fi and fantasy fiction works are plot-driven, although this is not to say they must be.


In the end…

Despite the tendencies of different genres, it is ultimately up to the individual writer to decide what style they are most comfortable with. Indeed, if one starts writing without thinking about it, they will often discover their natural rhythm. They will also find that some readers prefer–or expect–one style over another. This, too, is acceptable. The goal is not to write for the most people, but rather to write how your mind and heart tell you.

Now, go WRITE!


~*~ H ~*~


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