What do you consider the most important in a story: the plot or characters?

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Book Blogger Hop

Interesting question from the Book Blogger Hop sponsored by Crazy for Books.  For me, it’s definitely the characters.  I’m a sociologist.  I find people and how they think and, especially, how they interact with each other, infinitely fascinating.  Give me a fairly interesting set of characters and I don’t care that much what happens.  In fact, in college and still today some of my favorite writers are fairly light on the stuff happening, but very into trying to convey character.  I think of the stream of conscioussness folks like Virgina Woolf and E.M. Forster, who seemed to me to really be trying to convey a person in the most intimate way possible.  Or a more contemporary example, A Suitable Boy, in which almost nothing happens for almost 1500 pages, but when I finished it, I missed the characters for the next week; it was like they had moved in with me for the many months it took to finish the book. 

Like my friend at As the Crowe Flies, I will read a book that is all plot and find it quite enjoyable. But I have to confess, it feels like a cheap and empty pleasure because it’s just hard for me to get excited about exciting things happening to people who don’t seem particularly real.  I feel like when the people in a story are real and deep and meaty, there’s always more to be learned than from a story in which a lot happens.  This is why I prefer my mysteries with some characterization.  Mysteries are generally pretty plot driven, but need to be balanced out by some interesting people for me.

I would sum up with this metaphor.  A story that is truly all plot is like eating a hamburger at McDonald’s–quick, fun and then the pleasure wears off pretty quickly.  A story with good characters is like a meal cooked by a top chef at the top of his or her game—something to savor slowly and over time, appreciating all the subtlety in the moment and then remembering it for years to come.


  1. Great answer!

    Your newest follower 🙂

  2. I love your answer and wonderful metaphor at the end. I agree with you, I can read a book where the characters are well developed with not much going on and still remember them fondly later on.

  3. Thanks for the comments and for hopping by, Music4Betty and dragonflyy419! What a fun and interesting question.

  4. Hello Robyn, I am a rather tardy hopper. I agree with you: character is most important. I'm glad I discovered you on the hop.

  5. First-time visitor…nice blog.

    Hopping by from the blog hop.

    Lots of good answers to this week's tough question.

    Stop by my blog to see my answer to this week's question.

    Also check out a design site I found…pretty neat home decorating ideas…it is in the right side panel on my blog.


    Happy Holidays!!

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