Do not fear the road of imagination…walk it boldly…take in the sights, the sounds, the tastes, the smells…the textures. Imagine your characters reaching from the pages of your story, and inviting your readers to take their hand and walk with them. Take your reader somewhere unique and believable. Make them hate to see the journey end, and leave them filled with regret that they have to bid the characters farewell.
I am the least qualified to answer the questions as to whether captivating characters or provocative plots drive a story from The words “Chapter One” to the words “The End.” People more capable than me have plucked the strings of that debate for decades, and the dueling banjos will be heard long after I am gone. But I know that plots without characters are like a musical score without an orchestra , and characters without plots are like an orchestra without any musical score.
Characters move me. Plots move them.
I have several characters packed in my imagination. Some are harmless. Some are funny and fun-loving. Some are broken. A few are well-intentioned but flawed. Some are capable of incredible good, while others sink to revolting depths of evil. Some are born out of the happy times in my life, and others are represent my deepest pains and my most unrelenting sorrows. And others…well, I’m not sure where they came from. But I’m sure we’ve met before.
And I also have stories blooming in my head. I can think of six story ideas that are demanding my attention right now. Two are sequels to books I’ve already written. One is a story idea that was plopped in my lap at a recent writers conference (thanks J. K.). Another is probably going to be the beginning of a series. And two are story ideas that started as contest entries and are begging to be fleshed out.
So, as a writer or a reader, what’s most important to you…plot or characters? Who are some of your favorite characters from books or movies? What are the most intriguing plots you’ve been caught up in?