I don’t see me getting any less stir crazy in the next two weeks, so today’s tip is about plotting: how your characters and your plot connect.
Character Drives Plot
This is the first principle. You have events set up, things are gonna happen. But they don’t happen in a vacuum, they happen to your characters. How your characters react to the setup drives the next event in the plot.
Think about it in real life. No two people are going to react to the same stimulus in the same way. Someone can be in a fender-bender and be mildly annoyed, while another person might become a gibbering mess. This can be true of passengers in the same car. What happens to each person next depends largely on how they react. Character drives plot.
Plot Drives Character
Excuse me? Didn’t you just say…?
I did, and that first part is true. This second part of plotting is also true. The events of the plot spur character development. In the fender-bender example above, the person who is mildly annoyed probably wouldn’t think much about the accident other than to register it as an inconvenience. The person who is devastated by the accident, on the other hand, might make changes – good or bad – to their life as a result. They’d be substantially different after the accident than they were before. Plot drives character.
Character Drives Plot Drives Character Drives Plot…
This knot, this dance, is what a good writer masters. There is a feedback loop between plot and character and it’s in this tension that you’ll find the best story.