It’s a question that has been asked over and over. I’ve been to talks which emphasise the importance of plot. And I’ve also been to many that emphasise character. But which is the most important? It’s interesting how we can never settle for their equal importance. Why is it that we must always pressure why one is more important than the other?
For a long time I’ve wondered which one I think is more important. I read The Hunger Games for its plot, for the action of the Games and the revolution. I watched A Midsummer Night Dream for the plot of the lovers falling in love with the wrong people. But I read Jane Eyre for Jane Eyre. And admittedly, the thing that kept me hooked to Cassandra Clare’s “The Infernal Devices” was the gorgeous descriptions and wit of Will Herondale. But most of the time I love both. I love the magic and drama of Harry Potter as much as I love the trio, Dobby, Hagrid… If somebody made me choose between the plot and characters of that series I would be there for a long long time wondering how somebody could ask such a question.
But something I have just realised, yesterday while watching a performance of Kernow King’s Trevithick, I realised that character makes plot. How can we even have a plot if it isn’t for the characters? Trevithick was funny, the cornish phrases were right on and it made me love the character, made me love the play. If the plot is action packed, and has surprises, is it really Great if the characters are unreal, underdeveloped, and down-right dislikable?
Thinking about it, all of the books I have put down and not continued to read were over character. Not plot. I think my answer is there.
But what is is about this question that makes it an endless discussion among Literary Festivals and nerdy conversations? I’m beginning to wonder if my blog post on it is just another echo of an unimportant, repeated question.
Is this the question we should really be asking? Surely, in writing, we should aim for both to be developed and interesting.