Have you ever vacationed by the ocean for an extended weekend and not seen a single wave, just gentle ripples in the water for hour after endless hour?
Have you ever been caught out in the desert when the wind picked up? Had sand pelt your face, forcing your eyes to shut and your arms to rise defensively?
Have you ever expected a light dusting of snow on a romantic weekend getaway and received 42″ (without having chains)?
These are not just the mishaps of my vacations, but metaphors for stories too heavy on characters and/or plot. Characters are what you see, like water. Plot is the power behind what you see, like wind or storms.
Without plot, the story can become drudgery instead of enjoyment – characters bobbing up-and-down without ever cresting or curling in exciting fashion.
Without a good set of characters to connect to, the story arc is dry and it slaps at the reader’s face.
When there is too much, dozens of characters who never get a chance to recover from the hundreds of plot elements, the reader is overwhelmed and misses the chance to fall in love (because they are thinking, “Where are my chains? I can’t get traction.”).
Make your characters interesting, colorful, and dynamic. Make your story arc full of action, adventure, or intrigue. Give your story room to breathe, and in turn give your reader the same chance.
Give your reader the chance to experience the ebb and flow of your story with time to enjoy the crests, curls, and splashes of your characters’ experience against the driving power of the plot.