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March 31, 2009

Character or Plot Driven?

I’ve been in the writing cave again today and doing some heavy-duty thinking about the story I’m plotting. I took a bit of a break to write a post for Selena Illyria for her menage a trois week. While I was writing my post, I started to think about character driven stories and plot driven stories.

A character driven story is where the characters drive the story. Whatever decisions they make direct the course of the story, and at the end of the story the characters should have changed and grown in some way.

A plot driven story is where the events unfolding in the story direct the characters’ actions. At the end of the story, the characters are not necessarily changed or different.

Romances, by their very nature, tend to focus on the characters and their journey.

When I first started writing, I tended to write a plot driven story. I like action and lots of things happening, and this showed up in my writing. Over time I’ve noticed this has changed with my latest release, Leticia’s Lovers being more character driven.

The Nocturnes I’ve been reading recently are very much plot driven, although there’s a character driven element to the stories as well. If you enjoy paranormal stories and haven’t tried the Nocturne line yet, there are some great reads waiting for you. I highly recommend Patrice Michelle’s Scions series (for a different take on vampires and werewolves) and Rhyannon Byrd’s Blood Runner series.

Do you prefer character driven stories, plot driven stories or a combination of the two?


  1. Roberta Harwell

    Hello Shelley,

    Here lately I’ve been reading more plot driven books than character. However, I prefer a combination of the two. It goes back to yesterday’s question. It depends on the mood I’m in as to which type of book I’m wanting to read.

    Have a great day.

  2. Jennifer Shirk

    I read both, but I do like character driven stories the most. :mrgreen:

  3. Amy Ruttan

    I like both equally, both plot and character.

    Caridad Pinero writes good Nocturnes as well. :mrgreen:

  4. Catherine Bybee

    Hey Ann, I just finished Pinero’s latest, Fury Calls… and I have to agree about the plot driven aspect of the Nocturnes. Truth is I like both… When I want a really mushy read… and yes I do like them mushy once in a while… I usually pick up a historical, when I want plot driven… I lean toward the action / paranormal side of the genre.

  5. Deanna Price

    I’ve read that line of Harlequin’s and as a matter of fact I have one more in my TBR pile called The Night Serpent

  6. Fedora

    Hmm… I think I like both, depending on mood, but have a slight preference for character driven. I have to say that plot-driven can either be really good (those page turners I can’t put down) or annoying (where I’m rolling my eyes at the contrived circumstances). Hard to please, I am!

  7. Amy W.

    Character, character, CHARACTER! I like to feel involved with the person and see them grow or evolve, I like to know we can change things if we try. Any other questions?

  8. Nicola O.

    I need a good character arc to have a satisfying read. Not to say that I don’t care about action/plot, but if I had to choose, I’d pick character.

    One of the reasons I love Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel books is because the character elements and the plot elements are so perfectly interwoven. Because when you get right down to it, almost all “action” is caused by some character or another.

  9. Shelley Munro

    Amy R – Kaye Manro had an interview with Caridad Pinero about her vampire Nocturnes last week. Vivi Anna also writes a good series for Nocturne.

    Roberta – I’m trying to clear the pile of books sitting by my bed so I grab whatever is on top at the moment. I must say my books are one pile smaller than last year.

  10. Shelley Munro

    Many of the Harlequin lines are more character than plot driven. I think that’s part of the reason why they’re so popular with readers and continue to sell well.

    Deanna – The Night Serpent is written by a new author who I haven’t read before. I’ve just checked it out and it sounds great. You’ll have to let me know if you enjoy reading it.

  11. Shelley Munro

    Amy W – LOL okay. Character. Yes, maám. :grin:

    Nicola O – I’ve never read Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series. so many people I know have enjoyed them that I’ve been going to grab the first in the series. One day soon…

  12. Alice Audrey

    My early books are also very much plot driven. As I’ve matured as a writer, my stories have moved away from plot driven, but not necessarily into character driven. Instead, they are becoming more and more tightly woven between character and plot.

  13. Julia Barrett

    Shelley, you won a copy of my ebook, My Everything. Thanks for leaving me a comment on Sandra’s blog. Please let me know where to send your copy. And…I prefer character driven stories. Plot driven can become too contrived. I’m not fond of plot devices.
    Email me at juliarachelbarrett@gmail.com

  14. Shelley Munro

    Thanks, Julia! I’ve emailed you. :grin:

  15. amanda ashby

    Hey Shelley

    It seems like ages since I’ve visited (probably because it has been – eek!). Anyway, I like a nice balance of plot and character. I hate when it’s all action with no deep emotion but at the same time I don’t like all emotional response and no action. Oh and I do like my cake and eating it too!!!!!

  16. Kaye Manro

    Well, I do prefer both plot and character driven stories. And since I’m a Nocturne girl at heart, I love the way they are written. I’ve been knocking on that door for a while now! And I always say, if you want to write a Nocturne, you got to read the line a lot.

  17. Kaye Manro

    BTW — Dragon’s Lair, by Denise Lynn is also very good. She’s new to Nocturne too.

  18. Jenyfer Matthews

    If I have to pick one or the other, I’ll say character driven – I tend to write that way myself so it’s hardly a surprise :)

  19. Voronda

    I love both but if I had to choose it would be chracter driven.

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