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Debates > When it comes to books - Plot or Characters?

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message 1: by L.C. (new)

L.C. Perry | 564 comments Hey guys! :)

So, this topic was inspired by a topic in another group I'm in for authors and I thought it was interesting with all the diverse responses I read. I wanted to pass on the question to you readers and writers! When it comes to reading and/or writing, which do you prioritize? Would you rather have well written characters and not so good plot or poorly written/flat characters with an amazing plot? For authors, did you usually come up with the plot first or the characters? All thoughts are appreciated!


message 2: by Lynne (new)

Lynne Stringer | 256 comments I'm more interested in characters in my stories but by the same token, if the plot has lots of holes, I can't keep my head in the book anyway. However, I will overlook minor plot problems for the sake of characters I love in the books I'm reading. Hopefully they're aren't any plot problems in the books I write. :-)


message 3: by Chloe (new)

Chloe | 227 comments As a reader and writer, I love the characters! To me, if the characters aren't good I normally won't like the whole book. I especially like it when the villains have a story :)


message 4: by Samantha (new)

Samantha (sgudger) | 48 comments This is a tough one because I feel like characters and plot go hand in hand. As a reader, if I don't care about the characters then it's difficult to be invested in the story and care about what happens to them. And if the characters are really poorly written they can take away from the plot because I might spend so much time rolling my eyes and being irritated at them to really care about what happens to them. Although if a book has strong characters but nothing much happens to them, then this can get boring too. As a writer, if I don't care about my characters and they lack depth, I get bored or irritated writing about them. Same with plot because without a good story, it's difficult to move things along. Now, from your question it sounds like you're asking about really strong plot and really poor characters or the other way around. I can still be invested in a story if either is mediocre and the other is great, but I think stories are epics fails if one or the other are really bad. In terms of writing, which comes first, the plot or the characters, it depends on the story. I have had stories that started with a line of dialogue between characters and I was hooked. Other stories started with the plot and I had to build characters from there. So yeah, depends on the story. Hopefully I've made some semblance of sense through my rambles. :O) Great question!


message 5: by Tommy (new)

Tommy Hancock (tommyhancock) | 120 comments As has been pointed out, both are important. I'm going to go the other way on this one though and say plot. I'm more interested in the story itself and would, if forced to choose, read a book with an amazing story/plot filled with subpar characters than a book with great characters following a subpar plot.

In truth, they should both feed each other and morph into one mega-thing, but if forced to choose, I go with plot.


message 6: by Teyler (new)

Teyler  Hone | 8 comments I feel like both are extremely important to a book, yet I tend to focus more on the characters. If I am into the characters I can normally follow the plot even if it is non climatic.


message 7: by Mehsi (new)

Mehsi | 584 comments I need both. I just can't choose one of the two.
If the characters are crap, but the story good, I generally can't enjoy the story much due to my frustrations regarding the characters. And the same also goes for if the plot sucks and the characters are fantastic. Of course it also depends on the degree of terribleness. If the story or characters still have redeeming characteristics I may continue reading.


message 8: by BookishBoy (new)

BookishBoy Characters, even though I think both are extremely important. Would you care about a great plot if you disliked all of the characters featured in the book? I wouldn't. At least when the characters are interesting and entertaining, we can continue reading to follow their journey, no matter what the journey is.


message 9: by Steffi (new)

Steffi (SteffiW) | 103 comments Yea while you want a good plot, it has to come down to the characters. If i don't care about the characters, I'll not be overly bothered about the plot and how it affects them, no matter how good it might be.


message 10: by Carrie (new)

Carrie Lynn Hayton I'm interested both in the characters and the plot.


message 11: by Nikki, Eragon Bookslayer (new)

Nikki Sojkowski (NikkiSoj) | 1489 comments Mod
I'm interested in both but I'd rather have good, three dimensional characters in a crappy plot than awful characters in good plot. Because I simply won't care about what's going on if the characters aren't good.


message 12: by Kami (new)

Kami  | 45 comments Depends on the genre. If it's something like fantasy I would say the plot is just as important as character, but something like contemporary I would say character is more important.


message 13: by KimyQueen (new)

KimyQueen | 32 comments This a very difficult choice indeed because I can't possibly choose one and abandon the other the book will be wortheless in either case
But IF I have to choose I'll pick characters because the story is mainly about them and if a character is boring or just not likable to me i wouldn't read the book anyway


message 14: by Jessika (new)

Jessika (jessilouwho22) For me, I think they are both important, HOWEVER, for the most part, I am all about the characters. I know I'm in the minority, but as long as there is some good character development, literally nothing could happen plot-wise and I'd be happy. I've read books that had really slow plots or plots where not much happened and the focus was all on the characters, and I loved them. Now, when a book has both a great plot & excellent characters, that's probably what I prefer. But for me, reading is all about the character development.


message 15: by Brittany (new)

Brittany Evrard | 3 comments I think it both plot and characters are important. I like to read a book where there is a character development. I hate when I read a book and the characters do not grow. It is like they are just there. Life is not like that people go through things in real life and grow. Characters in books should be treated the same way. I also have to read books that have an interesting plot. If I can't get into the book I am not able to read it.


message 16: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Clay (amandajclay) | 8 comments Can I say both? Haha! Well, I think if I HAD to choose, strong characters will override a mediocre plot. It's really difficult for me to enjoy a story--even a good plot--if I just can't connect with the characters.

As an author, I would say I've equally come up with both plot and characters first. Sometimes I'l come up with a character and he just tells me his tale. Sometimes I have a thought on a plot and as I unravel the world I discover the character. :)


message 17: by Charlene (new)

Charlene Antrobus Definitely characters. I believe that if you have strong characters a great plot will naturally follow, so I'm team characters he he :)


message 18: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Hitsman | 5 comments Although both are clearly important, I feel that characters should be the priority. You can have a great plot, but it will fall flat if you don't have depth of characters.


message 19: by No, David! No! (new)

No, David! No! (daviddevoursbooks) | 17 comments I have a slightly different perspective. I think which is more important depends on what the book is. I would also add "world" as the third option. I think it is easiest to explain with examples.

The Silmarillion (Middle-Earth Universe) by J.R.R. Tolkien I love the world Tolkien created. Like the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, this book takes place in Middle Earth. The draw for me is just learning more about the history and lore of the world he created. So it is neither plot nor character that draws me in. Some historical fiction books are also like this for me. I just want to experience the place and world.

Ender's Game (Ender's Saga, #1) by Orson Scott Card The Ender Saga has been retold from many different perspectives, and I enjoy them all. The story is the same. Some of the books literally tell the same scene over again. I enjoy reading them over and over though, because I love the characters and want to understand how each of them felt and experienced the events.

There's No Place Like Home (Secrets of My Hollywood Life, #6) by Jen Calonita I read the whole Hollywood Secret's series (this is the last book in the set). The books were fun, and I enjoyed the stories. Not that the characters were bad, but I was driven by "what happens next". That became a problem in this particular book. (view spoiler) If I had loved these books for the characters, I wouldn't have minded the approach in this book. I probably would have loved it. Because I was only worried about the plot, I hated the device the author used. (btw - I LOVE the movie "It's a Wonderful Life" because I love the characters - it is not about the plot in that one for me, so the device works.)

Of course, the best books, and the ones I read over and over, excel in all three aspects - world, character, and plot. For me, this includes Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Divergent. I love the way the author created a new world. I connect with the characters, and want to know all about them. I am on pins and needles about the plot, and want to go back and see how it all came together. The authors that can win at all three have me captured for life.


message 20: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Yang (MichY_) | 3 comments honestly characters are more my thing. if the characters are really amazing, they could honestly be doing nothing all that important and i'd probably end up loving it still.


message 21: by Marta (new)

Marta Barrales (martabarrales) | 11 comments This is a hard one, but I think characters are more important to me than plot most of the time, I mean plot is great, but in my mind a great story can't always make up for bad characters, however good characters and development can make any plot, even if terribly boring better.


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