Thursday, 15 December 2011

Booking Through Thursday: Character or Plot?

“What’s more important to you? Real, three-dimensional, fleshed-out fascinating characters? Or an amazing, page-turning plot?  (Yes, I know, they are both important. But if you had to pick one as being more important than the other?)”

As usual the question comes from Deb at Booking Through Thursday.

[Sigh] I am never any good with “either/or” kind of questions!

I think that an intriguing plot is often important to draw the reader into a book. But at the end of the day, it is usually characters that leave the lasting impression.

I’d also say that in the best stories, the plot serves to gradually form and/or reform the reader’s image of the main characters. Sometimes we are deceived and undeceived about the true nature of at least one of them. Sometimes we get to follow them for a long time and see the major events that form them. Sometimes we are introduced to them at a later point in their life and get to know more in flashbacks.

I’m trying to think of books from which I retain an idea of the “plot” but not the characters… Certain classic adventure stories come to mind, like those by Jules Verne. A more contemporary example would be Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. (However, I wasn’t even that impressed with the plot!)


  1. I totally agree - yes I remember plots but not as much as I remember people that I like. Here's my BTT

  2. even though i have a different answer i do see your point,
    thanks for Sharing!

  3. characters first, plot second, but i prefer both at the same time. i do not like details and details and details which is what Dan Brown does with his books.

  4. I think you've nailed it, Dawn. Yes...the characters leave the lasting impression for me, too.


  5. Nope, absolutely not choosing, each one is equally important! It takes both to have a book worth reading. If you don't like the personalities, you don't care where the plot takes them. And If the plot is no good, the book doesn't keep you interested enough. I have read both kinds of books, and never finished any of them.

  6. A good answer.

  7. I just picked up my book to read and forgot to say, i am trying now to read The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown, started it yesterday and am on page 108 and still have not engaged. i will try another hundred pages. it is the sequel to The DaVinchi Code and not sure if i will make it. I love fast moving plots with lots of talking between the characters.

  8. Ginny - While I can think of a few books with interesting plot but 'flat' or stereotype characters, I can't really remember any book with highly interesting characters but a plot so boring that I quit reading. Do you have any in mind??

  9. Sandra, your second comment made me wonder if I read that one too, or not. I really could not remember. So I looked it up in Wikipedia and read the whole summary of the story there. Believe it or not, I'm still not sure if I read it or not! What I am pretty sure of, though, is that I am not going to (re?)read that whole book just to try and determine if I already read it...

  10. The one book that I can think of that had both amazing characters and also an amazing plot was Gone With The Wind.

    I agree it is difficult to choose one over the other, we need both to really make it interesting.

  11. I think each one is equally important!
    All the best

    Short Poems


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