Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A to Z Challenge: Development


When the time for revisions come, this one is pretty important to look at.
For a reader to enjoy the story, something has to change. Maybe it's the plot changing the character's world. Or maybe it's the character that changes. Or even both.

But something has to change. Because if it doesn't, and everything goes back to how it was before the start of the story, what would be the point? Why would a reader sit through the thousands of words in between?

So during revisions, you might want to see if your characters grew. Especially if  you're more of a plot driven kind of writer. It's something I find quite a lot, that the plot-driven stories have awesome development in the plot, but almost none in the character. In fact, they can potentially let characters go through the motions required by the plot and leave the characters relatively unchanged. (And in some action-books I've read, unscathed.)

On the other hand, character-driven writers tend to have excellent character development, but the plot development is a bit lacking. I actually think it's easier for a character-driven writer to get both right, because a character can't change if something didn't happen to him or her. Still, the plot aspect to the story might feel murky or undefined. As if something happened, but the reader can't be sure.

Both of these can be acceptable if it's what you're going for. If not, you might want to spend a revision round either defining what's going on inside the character, or outside around the character.

More specific than that, I can't really help you, since it depends on the story. But if you have development issues in your story, you can contact me and I'll go through your work to see if you can improve on character or plot development. Otherwise, you should have a crit partner who's able to help you out.

Look Out for These:

1) Plot feels like it's going nowhere, even if it is in fact moving towards a point.

2) The plot is full of events, but the character seems to have learnt nothing, or didn't change, or seems largely unaffected.

3) Plot development: Crit partners say that you have pacing issues, but deep down you know the pacing is fine.

Are you a character or plot-driven writer? Do you find yourself having to go back to make sure the development of plot and/or characters need to be better defined?

50 comments:

  1. I don't think I'm one or the other. I tend to focus on both when I write. Great post!

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    1. I try to do that too, but for some reason, my mind hops to the characters first, every time. :-)

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  2. A boring plot will put me off faster than anything. It doesn't have to be non-stop action, but I do want to feel as though things are moving toward a climax or decision point.

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    1. Same here. Something needs to go on, even if it isn't all action.

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  3. Hmmm, I'm not sure. I have never had another quality writer critique my work. "Average" readers don't seem to have any complaints.

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    1. I find that writers make for better crit partners because they are more aware of how the craft works. "Average" readers make great beta's though. :-)

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  4. I think I'm more character oriented. It's their story that delivers the plot. I almost always have a character in mind first before the story actually comes.

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    1. Same with me. In fact, I start writing a story because there's a character. It's really rare for me to create a character to fit a story I have in mind. :-)

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  5. I have noticed the same difference about character and plot driven stories. I tend to straddle both the character and the plot driven stories (hopefully).

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    1. I try to straddle them, but sometimes I fall on either one side or the other. Usually on the character-driven one.

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  6. great to know about this post
    do check out my D at GAC a-z

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  7. Thank you for the interesting and sound advice. I'm looking forward to reading more.

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    1. I'm glad you liked the post. Thanks for stopping by!
      :-)

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  8. I write until I can't anymore and hopefully my character and plot has developed along the way. If not, then I do some tweaking.

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  9. As a reader, I want to see well-developed, dynamic characters because I think it makes the plot even better when the characters are pushing so hard for something and things are getting in their way! So as a writer I strive hard to create those kinds of characters. I feel like if the characters are well-developed, the plot is easier to plan since you can't have a plot without characters to fill it.

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    1. I feel like that too. My characters drive the plot. And it (I hope) makes for some good reading. :-)

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  10. I like that butterfly. It's really cool looking.

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    1. Me too. Thought it was too awesome to pass for another picture.

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  11. Sometimes the problem for me is not that my plot goes nowhere, but that it goes somewhere completely different than I intended. I guess that's the very nature of development.

    Great post and happy A-Z blogging.

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    1. Sometimes my plots do that too. The important thing is to focus on the new direction instead of losing it altogether. :-)

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  12. Hi Misha, thanks for the follow and now I'm following you back. Good luck completing your novel--it sounds like you are already well-versed in good writing tips.

    I like what you said about character-driven authors perhaps having an easier time with achieving good plot and characters since you have to have a compelling plot for characters to change. Characterization is probably more important than plot for me as a reader.

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    1. I also focus on characterization as I read. I guess that's why it's the way I focus when I write. :-)

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  13. I'm character-driven, and fortunately I have awesome critique partners that help with issues. Not so much plot as world-building is my main struggle.

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    1. Good CPs are so important. World-building can be very tricky, but since I was immersed in your world until 1 am this morning, I'm thinking you did it right. ;-P

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  14. Another post full of great advice. I'm a character-driven author myself, and it's what I enjoy most as a reader, too.

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    1. Same here. :-)

      Glad you enjoyed the post.

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  15. This is some great advice. I mostly write nonfiction and my posts are based off of my life. I am currently writing a book...based on a true story.

    I've always wanted to be a YA writer, though. My struggle is dialogue.

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    1. Dialogue is fortunately something that I'm really good at. The secret is in playing with nuances. If you need any help with that, please don't hesitate to ask. :-)

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  16. I must say I find this very interesting. All of the letters so far. I always need some guidance when I'm writing. I get lost so easy and always need some direction. Thanks, following now.

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    1. I'm glad that you find my posts useful. How long have you been writing?

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  17. Great post, Misha, and I love your new countdown clock. :D I better get cracking on that feedback...

    I was the opposite. Great at plot, weaker at character development. It's something I've had to learn. That's the great thing though, we can learn and improve, and eventually rock it. :)

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    1. Yeah, all it takes is realizing where our weaknesses lie and focusing on improving. :-)

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  18. For me, it's initially the plot, but, once established, the characters must get on with it. I really dislike it when characters always look the same, always react the same. And, thanks for the follow. I'm happy to follow back.

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    1. I also despise homogeneous characters. Especially when they're repeating across a variety of books by the same author. :-)

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  19. I think my characters drive my stories, for the most part. They 'speak' to me and I generally follow their lead, although I do like to throw them into predicaments every now & then to see what they'll do! lol

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    1. My characters speak to me too. And I never assume that I'm controlling the story. The moment I do, they do something to derail me. :-)

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  20. I'm more of a plot-driven writer, which is why I take the extra time to examine and re-examine my characters and their development during my revisions.

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    1. I know what you mean. I'm character driven, so I'm always having to make sure that the plot is going where it should.

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  21. I can't tell if I'm plot driven or character driven. I never plotted anything before I started writing, nor planned any characters, I just started with no idea where I was headed or who I was writing about. My view of my story is now so warped from being in it for such a long time that I'm not sure I could figure out development issues without outside help. Love my CPs for that. :)

    PS. That butterfly is so cool!

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    1. Yeah I also struggle with spotting development issues, so I have six CPs. Hoping that at least one of them will catch the issue. :-)

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  22. I think I'm a character driven writer but plot is very important to me too, so it's a toss-up. I DO find my characters grow when I put them aside and the plot itself re-shapes, pulls together better.

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    1. The same happens with me. That's why I take time off between drafts, revisions and edits. :-)

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  23. I'm more character-driven, but I am also very particular about plot. I think the plot should grow organically from a character. Great A-Z post!
    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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    1. I feel that way too. And it works for me, because I pay attention to make sure that the plot does develop. :-)

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  24. I think I'm more plot driven. I'm having to go back and make sure that my characters actually change and are affected by what happens to them.

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    1. Nice! I always wonder what it's like to think of the plot first. :-D

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  25. I am very character driven. I'm working on being more plot driven but its hard for me to try to focus on just the plot. I'm thinking I'm going to have to force myself to outline more.

    They say being aware of a problem is the first step towards fixing it...right?

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  26. I have no idea which I am.

    When I start out, I start with a concept and maybe a scene or two. Maybe. Then I work on the main character. Especially their name. Then I plan out plot points adding in characters as I go.

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  27. Hey wow this is truly an amazing blog.... thanks for sharing the picture of butterfly its awesome too

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