Thoughts on Character Propelled Plots

Some of us are driven to write. Having to write can make writing drudgery. Drudgery is not fun. And speaking of a lack of fun, there is a school of thought that recommends writers should outline their books intensely before ever beginning to write. All hail the plot! The plot is king, and everything good comes from the plot!

Some writers I’ve heard of, but shall not name, have been rumored to develope plots so thoroughly that their outline is nearly as long as their book. If you find it necessary to work in such a manner and it succeeds for you...great! The best color horse is the one that gets you where you need to go. But if not, well....

Life is basically plotless. It develops as we move through it, with failures and successes, obstacles and challenges. As the old saw goes... “Life is what happens while we’re making plans.” If you have a basic plot idea and characters that you’re familiar with, find a starting point, add a rough destination, and dump those people you’ve come to know in the middle of the mess. Give them and yourself some freedom.

Don’t worry as much about what you should do, as about what they would do. Turn ‘em loose and follow along behind them writing down what happens. If it feels good, give it ten or twenty thousand words. Nothing in writing is wasted. Who knows? You might chase ‘em through fifty chapters, have a great time, finish with a novel to be proud of, and find out that writing really is fun.

After all, a rigid plot is like riding a train. If you need to make a hard left, you’re screwed.

At least, that’s how it seems to me.


Good Writing for Good Reading


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