Characters and Plot

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.

About R. Garrett Wilson

I am a member of the Stanislaus World Builders writing group and have participated in the FSFW writing group. I have written one drama that was based on the book of Mark and performed at my church in 2007. My story, Journeyer, is published in Analog Magazine and a novelette, The Bakrra Encounter, in the FSFW 2010 anthology, I Dreamed a Crooked Dream. I also took part in the community novel project, Stanislaus Reads and Writes, and have a chapter in their novel, Ashes in a Teardrop. Beyond writing, I enjoy road trips, photography, woodworking, watching tennis and cycling, and reading.
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3 Responses to Characters and Plot

  1. Great metaphors! It’s so easy to forgot to let our readers really enjoy our characters as well as the plot. There’s definitely a balance in there.

  2. Myrna Foster says:

    This is something I’ve been worrying about lately, but I’m just going to have to work out a balance though multiple drafts. Thanks for your thoughts on it.

  3. roh says:

    Very cool comparisons. Thanks for such a thought-provoking post!

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