What is it that governs what you read? Is it plot, characters, both?

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For me its a no brainer. I was brought up on strong plot driven books. Consequently I far prefer them to the character driven variety.

Why? Simplicity itself. You can have the most appealing/ intriguing/ baffling characters ever dreamt up. But unless the plot is strong and compelling, your characters are going nowhere.

As far as I’m concerned, plot is everything!

I’m endlessly criticised, usually by the same pair of writers, masquerading as self-styled experts on Amazon, whose own works have yet to sell more than a couple of dozen copies in any given year, over the fact that my books are purely plot driven. In that regard they are perfectly correct – my books are plot driven. Consequently the individuals concerned constantly whine about a lack of emotional depth to my characters. To that I say just this – tough!

If like them your idea of a good book is driven by the need to have every nuance and character flaw spelt out for you, instead of allowing your imagination free reign, I suggest that you stick with Mills & Boon style books.

I’m a bloke. I write what appeals to me. If you don’t like a strong story, then clearly my books are not for you.

In a moment of weakness, were I ever to produce the kinds of books those two people want, quite frankly I would deserve to be locked up. If, like them, you are looking for endless mind numbingly boring deep and meaninful dialogue between the characters in my books, so that you can figure out what makes them tick – I’m sorry it won’t happen! While it is true that my books do contain various intriguing characters, as far as I’m concerned they are secondary to the story.

The proof is in the pudding. What do I mean by this? Easy – its the regular monthly royalty payments to my bank account. Proof that my books sell and that I know what I’m doing.

Finally, to those two individuals, all I can say is that if your own books aren’t selling, then perhaps its high time you asked yourselves why it is that mine sell regularly while yours don’t.

PS – I’ve only ever written one character driven book, Globular Van der Graff’s Goblin Tales for Adults – a fantasy anthology, which I freely admit is my personal favourite. and yet I’m lucky if it sells one copy every month. Which begs the question, why the hell am I currently writing its prequel? I must be out of my tiny mind, or a glutton for punishment…

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12 thoughts on “What is it that governs what you read? Is it plot, characters, both?

  1. As someone who only came to writing late in life – a couple of years ago – I’ve never honestly understood what everyone was talking about when it came to the technical terms of writing books. I still couldn’t tell you the difference between an adverb and a pronoun straight off the bat, and the show don’t tell I didn’t quite get for months. I’ve been a reader of many things though my whole life long, and I think that the secret to a successful book is writing a really brilliant story – regardless of the pov’s and show and tells. πŸ™‚

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  2. A great rant! I like a good plot as you say without it…the story is a bunch of blather. But I do like to also feel a connection to the character…I love Elric of Melnibone because of the mood he carries around with him AS he goes through his many adventures. So yes most certainly a plot is essential but let me love your character too β™₯

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    • Rant? I don’t think so. Why would you say that? All I did was state a fact. Without a strong storyline your characters are going nowhere. One of my favourite authors of all time is Bernard Cornwell. Have you ever read his novel Stonehenge 200BC? Now there is a strong storyline with ocasional input from characters, when he deems it necessary.

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  3. I am writing my first larger work and discovering the same thing… My characters are developing but they keep falling apart because the plot lacks depth. I am trying to put flesh on the plot now and this article confirms what I have been sensing recently. Thank you!

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