I’m starting a series of posts about plot this week – as requested. Thanks for popping in or sending me emails with your preference!
Plot and Character are Intertwined
Before I start talking about plot, I have to say something about characters, the people who will be DOING and REACTING to the plot. Obviously, they are intertwined. We all know that. Without some external events, there’s just a character spouting off his/her philosophy of life. Without characters, there simply are no events and no story.
I also know that stories begin many places, but that two common places are with a plot idea or character idea. Yet, I’m easily intimidated by the Character Folks, who insist that good stories must, of course, begin with Character.
I understand exactly what you mean; we read because novels are the only art form which allows us inside a person’s head to experience events with them and to understand life from a different point-of-view. And, in fact, character books are more likely to be considered a “literary” work of art than, say for example, a comedy or an action-thriller.
Yet, your Characters are nothing without events that challenge their very core.
Still the Character-First-and-Foremost Folk intimidate me, probably because I have to work harder at characterization because I’m such a private person myself. When a character wants to give the readers a look at his/her emotions, thought processes (the very things that make novels so unique), my response is, “Wait up.” That means you’re exposing yourself, your privacy might be violated, are you sure you want the world to know all that? Or, it’s just none of the reader’s business, and s/he had better butt out of your life. I struggle to commit the character to paper.
So, here I am talking about Plot or the events of a story and I’m okay with that. But without characters, especially the character’s emotional reactions to the events, all the work on plot is wasted. You can artificially separate these story elements, yet this thing we call a novel is so rich precisely because of how these are woven together.
OK, Plot. I’ll begin tomorrow with a discussion of the three levels of plot: outline, scenes, pacing.