BTT – The Plot Thickens

If you’re anything like me, one of your favorite reasons to read is for the story. Not for the character development and interaction. Not because of the descriptive, emotive powers of the writer. Not because of deep, literary meaning hidden beneath layers of metaphor. (Even though those are all good things.) No … it’s because you want to know what happens next?

Or, um, is it just me?

Was that actually a question?  It sounds more like a statement.

A false statement at that.

I would say that plot and character are about equally important to me.  I can read a character-driven book as long as the story is at least moderately interesting and I can read a plot-driven book, but not if the characters are completely flat.  In general, I like to have a strong plot with strong characters, like David Fuller’s Sweetsmoke (review), for instance.  From time to time I like to read a book that is mostly plot, but over all it is important to have a good balance.

What do you think?  Plot?  Character?  Beautiful writing?  What makes you want to read a book?

17 comments to BTT – The Plot Thickens

  • Ha! I wasn’t sure if it was a question either.

  • I think there has to be character development in order to keep readers interested in a good plot. I like beautiful writing, too, as long as it’s not too flowery.

  • I tend to agree with the prompt.

  • These were my thoughts–exactly. But you said it much better.

  • I agree that it’s all about balance, but if it came down to it, beautiful writing and interesting characters would win out over plot any day in BookLadyland.

  • I remember reading some time ago that men tend to favor plot-driven books while women favor character-driven books. It was an article about book clubs and why it is so hard to get men to join (answer: the choice of books). As usual, I’m on the wrong side in that I really prefer books with great plotlines. Obviously you have to have good characters to support the plot. I’m all for character development but something has to happen, otherwise we’re all just hanging around waiting for Godot.

  • Jennifer

    I ended up saying I like character-based plots. Usually it’s the characters that interest me more than what they’re doing. Beautiful writing I can do without – it can be distracting!

  • I totally agree with you! When I was reading the quote I thought, “Is this person kidding?” I think character development is critical!

  • The best of both worlds is excellent plot and characters that you can relate to and actually care about. What drives me crazy with any book is when it is overly descriptive. I prefer action to setting.

  • Charley

    Balance is best, but I think I tend to place more emphasis on character than on plot. I’ll stick with a book if I find the characters interesting, even though the plot is slow, like Indpendent People. But I’ll set a book aside if I think the characters are lacking, even if the plot moves along.

  • You articulated my thoughts perfectly. Please write for my blog. :)

  • I like characters. I like plot. I like beautiful writing. If a novel is brilliant in one of those areas, I find that I don’t even realize the others are missing until I give it more thought or its otherwise pointed out to me. In fact, given my choice, I would read a book full of brilliant writing and not much of anything else than one that has all three elements but is mediocre at each. Two of my most memorable reading experiences happened while reading Ulysses by James Joyce, which was beautifully written and Misery by Stephen King, which was plot and character driven. So, in the end, it just depends.

  • I find the beautiful writing is what binds it all together for me. If the story is hard to find, or the characters aren’t engaging, then no amount of beautiful writing is going to keep me reading.

  • I think a balance is great. I like to have a good story with characters who make me feel something for them.

  • The pictures. I like the pictures.
    Well… seriously… An imaginative plot and interesting characters make a story interesting, but beautiful writing is what separates Henning Mankell from Dan Browne:

  • What do you think? Plot? Character? Beautiful writing? What makes you want to read a book?

    Don’t forget the setting. :-) I think all of these things together are what make a story a story. One without the others is like leaving the flour out of the cake. Of course, some stories have more of one than the others–but that’s okay. It depends on the book and what the author is trying to convey.