Archive for April, 2010

Character Driven vs. Plot Driven


2010
04.28

You always hear about character driven vs. plot driven stories, but there isn’t really one solid definition of what that means. There are several definitions out there, but they all describe via example and are often based on how you “feel” about the story.

I would like to suggest my definition, one that uses something concrete to come to a conclusion, instead of how it “feels.”

Before we get started, it is important to note that there are two things in play here… how the writer creates the story, and how the story was written.

How the story was written
Character driven and plot driven mean (in my opinion), “What is moving the story forward?” Hence… what is driving the story?

For clarity sake, think of it as reactive driving (plot driven) vs proactive driving (character driven). If the character makes decisions, of his own accord, and that moves the story forward… it is character driven. If things happen to the character, and he reacts to those things, it is plot driven. There may be examples of both in the story, but which ever there are more of is the winner 😉

This is not to be confused with the prevalence of character of plot (or lack thereof).

How the writer creates
If the writer lets the character call all of the shots, and throws no obstacles at the character, then they are trending toward a character driven story. If they throw obstacles at the characters, then let the character react on his own accord, they are trending toward a plot driven story.

There is nothing wrong with either. At all. Nor do I want to even imply that one is better.

My only concern with the former method is that it can be  more susceptible to a lack of plot, and that could be a problem. If you let the character run free and still develop a plot as you go, then there is nothing wrong with that. I would find it difficult to do, but others may not.

Going back to how the story “feels,” I want to introduce a new concept. Character Focused vs. Plot Focused.

If the development of the character outweighs the development of the plot, then it is character focused. If the development of the plot outweighs the development of the character, then it is plot focused. Even better, you can have a well balanced story, where both are developed well and equally.

Under no circumstance, can you omit both. You must have well developed characters. You must have a well developed plot. While it is true, you may have one stronger than the other that carries the story, you have to have them both.

A story with no character is a news report — boring.

A story with no plot is just learning about a character — less boring, but still not a story.

So, what say you, reader?

Rad contest and a Rad blog


2010
04.27

Yes. I said rad. I know, my “nerd” is showing, but you’ll live.

I found this blog while motorcycling across the blogosphere desert, and instantly loved it. Mariah has fun posts all the time, and for some reason, they keep me inspired to write.

She is having a super cool (see, I can say other things besides “rad”) contest. She’s giving away lots of cool stuff, including a pre-order of Mockingjay! Woo hoo! Check it out!

Show vs Tell! Woo hoo!


2010
04.21

Showing versus telling has been the issue of the week. I have been going back and forth in a healthy debate between two friends and writers, Ryan Wilson and Toff (check out Ryan’s post to catch up on the details).

I am going to hash out what I think telling is, and you, the reader, may watch, laugh, make fun, and eventually, agree.  🙂

See, most often show vs. tell is applied to either action or emotion. Rarely is it brought up for description. Why? Why should description get off so easy? Dialog and monologue get a free ride, because the character is actually thinking or speaking the exact text that is written, so it is out of the picture all together. Description, however, should not get away free and clear.

Look at the following example:

“He was tall.”

vs.

“He ducked through the doorway as he entered the room.”

Most would say the first is not telling. Why? Because it is description (in Ryan’s case, it is telling because it is ambiguous). I say it is telling, because the narrator is just telling the reader a fact. To show, is to have action (a point that Toff will kill me later for saying). If there is not action — even invisible action (say, blood pumping) — then you are not watching (which I would assume if you are “showing,” then I need to be “watching”).

If you just tell me, I didn’t see anything.

Let’s look at another example:

“She has blonde hair.”

vs.

“She pulled her blonde hair behind one ear and continued to study.”

In the first sentence, nothing “happens,” so there is nothing to watch (hence, nothing is being shown). In the second sentence, there is something to watch, so we are being shown.

Lastly, a more difficult example:

“I tripped over a man. He was bloody from head to toe.”

vs.

“I tripped over a man who was bloody from head to toe.”

While iffy, the second is not telling. Here’s why.

“I                    kicked         a man.              He                     was                       bloody from head to toe.”

Subject     predicate      object.            Subject      (linking verb)       prepositional phrase (as an adverb)

“I                    kicked        a man      who was bloody from head to toe.”

Subject     predicate      object      prepositional phrase (as an adverb)

In the second sentence, there is action covering the whole sentence. Big difference. That brings me to my first rule of telling: a sentence that has a linking verb, with no other verbs, is telling.

I realize that my English skills are… questionable. If anything here is incorrect (as far as how I broke apart the sentence), please let me know. Additionally, I would love to hear your opinion on the matter. Post up and let’s see what happens!

*P.S. I am quite aware that my opinion is just that, and as I learn, I may decide that this is completely bogus, and my friends are correct.

Antother episode!


2010
04.16

Check out my newest episode of The Write Podcast! My friend, Ryan, joined in the show this time along with Toff, and we got to interview David Kuzminski of Preditors and Editors!

Off topic


2010
04.12

Today I wanted to write about health, because mine sucks. Well, not totally true. I am overweight (not a big surprise unless you’ve never met me in person), but other than that, I have no major health concerns… yet.

Being overweight is a gateway to all sort of bad things… heart problems, diabetes, etc. So, it is time I (once again) do something about it.

I have started eating better, and equally as important, started exercising (again). This time, I am riding my bicycle. It has been YEARS since I have ridden a bike, and what seemed so easy as a kid is really kicking my rear end!

Do you remember as kid, just hopping on your bike and riding around for hours? I do. And, I thought it would be similar now. Boy was I wrong!

The first time I rode, I got on the bike, spun around the street for like 3 minutes, and almost died. My rear end hurt (like it was beaten with a bat) and I couldn’t breath. My legs were on fire, and I swear that someone dumped a bucket of water on me.

The next was a little better, and each subsequent adventure (yes, bike riding is now an adventure) was a little easier yet. This last weekend, I was able to ride 2 miles each day (about 20 mins) and not die. In fact, if it wasn’t for my lagging 7 year old, I probably could have gone more.

So, as things move along, I will post my progress. Hopefully, I will have something good to report, instead of “I just ate 5 burritos.” 🙂

Sick


2010
04.06

sick today. I hate being sick. For some reason, missing work makes me feel like a loser. Yes, I know I am sick and shouldn’t go to work to spread my disease, and yes I have the sick days to cover it… but still. I think it stems from years of poor work ethics, and now I am trying to compensate. Oh well, off to bed I go.

Pardon my Absence


2010
04.06

I haven’t forgotten… I’ve been busy. To see what I have been doing, check out the first episode (now called “chapters”) for The Write Podcast!