This is a question I’ve found myself pondering on more than one occasion…
Make no mistake: I’ve come to understand that it’s the characters that drive the plot, not the other way around. Characters have to make decisions and take actions, not just react to the problems they encounter. A good story focuses on the character and how the things they face affect them, change them, and help them grow.
But you can’t just have a great character and do nothing with them. That’s like having a million dollars stuffed under your mattress. Unless you give readers a good story to go along with the great characters, you’ll do the character you’ve created a disservice.
I sat down with a few of my friends—authors and editors—and talked about this debate.
What are your thoughts on this debate? Drop a comment below and tell me what you think…
Maura van der Linden: My publishing career started in technical non-fiction with one solo book on Software Security Testing and a contribution to a study guide for a software security certification. I then moved to writing small-press fiction under a pen name and began editing for several of my publishers. With the advantage of being both a life-long reader and a bit of a grammar geek, I discovered I really enjoyed editing and helping develop an author’s work without taking it over.
I enjoy the challenges of polishing stories and books without detracting from their author’s voice or intent. I guess I really love editing works of fiction.
G.G. Silverman lives north of Seattle with her husband and dog, both of whom are ridiculously adorable. When she isn’t writing, she loves to explore the mossy woods and wind-swept coast of the Pacific Northwest, which provide moody inspiration for all her stories. She also enjoys bouts of inappropriate laughter, and hates wind chimes because they remind her of horror movies.
She holds a BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and also completed the Writing for Children program at the University of Washington. She has attended the Martha’s Vineyard Institute for Creative Writing, the Oregon Coast Children’s Book Writer’s Workshop, and the Big Sur Writer’s Workshop.
E.M. began writing when she turned 13, starting with fanfiction stories on RPGamer, Forfeit Island, Fanfiction.net and Lufia.net. After growing her fanbase through these mediums, E.M. considered fictional writing after creating original characters and backstories within fandom universes. After extensive encouragement, E.M. plunged into original writing in 2012, specializing in paranormal mystery, urban fantasy and psychological thrillers.