Are You A Character Driven or Action Driven Writer?

I found this interesting post about whether you’re character driven or action driven as a writer…  and well to be honest I can’t make my mind up! 

I love my main characters to be complex

They have intriguing backstories that make them who they are and why they have come to be where they are at the starting point of my novel. One of the couples in within the Valentina Secrets Series I’ve tangled up the age old scenario of “Oh no, I have a crush on my best friend”. But I’ve take it to the extreme where over sixteen years friends and family have speculated about the nature of their friendship and that one night  where they’ve always asked “well, did they? or didn’t they? they probably did”. I’ve complicated it further by having one decide to move from New York to Los Angeles on that very night in question. So did they? 

I’m also very character driven because I like to listen to my characters. I like them to tell me what’s what? when? how? why? … you know, I see their world through their eyes. So if things change its because they want them to. An example of this is Tainted Love. When I set out with Faith McKenzie I knew from the Valentina Secrets backstory she was married for twenty years and she had two children, she went on the run for three years, found a man who convinced her to stop running, get divorced and to live happily ever after. But it was Faith who told me she has five children and a step daughter through her second marriage. 

But… I also like my drama…


I open When In Vegas with a slap in the face marriage proposal rejection live on national television. Tainted Love with the words “you have to promise me something, promise you’ll tell no one what you’re about to read” and Life’s a Ball with a hell raising argument between  Elle and her married ex-now-business associate and she’s caught by her boss.

So I’ve also learn that pre plotting is important in this game. I need to know where my characters are starting from, what path I plan to walk with them and where we’re aiming for. It’s good to work out the kinks before we start on this journey and any detours along the way are easier to manage. I’m not aimlessly floundering waiting for the next big thing to happen because I already know. That doesn’t necessary mean the path doesn’t change completely.  Characters grow and develop over the course of the novel. When we set out on the path the complexity of the journey and the detours we have taken may alter the ending. So I’m not too ridged as long as their goal is achieved. The original ending of When In Vegas just didn’t feel right for my characters so I changed it. I gave Ashleigh everything she wanted… only she realised it wasn’t what she wanted any more.  

But I don’t think this necessarily means I’m one of the lucky ones …

and I can write both Character Emotional Development and Dramatic Action plotlines. It’s just the way I approach my novels. I get to know my characters and I get to know them well. I get to know my story and I get to know it well. Then I write it.  
    




Erin

Posts you may have missed:


50 Shades of Grey AreasJune 2012


Can You Explore A Characters Backstory Too Much? – June 2012


Your Character vs Your Genre – June 2012


Novel Extract – Tainted Love – June 2012

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