A few months ago on the website for Alliance of Independent Authors, I read Rachel McCollin’s article Plot vs Character: Which Comes First?
She stated that a story needs both plot and character to succeed. I agree that stories need these equally. I’ve read many authors who focused on plot or character, but not both. To me, their stories seemed to lack a connection. They were easy to read and easy to forget.
A plot where the characters have no influence in the story becomes a series of chase and fight scenes until no one is left to fight or chase. Likewise, characters without a plot wander around facing continuous attacks on their emotions without resolution.
There are plenty of readers who want to read about action or feelings, but not both. However, the most memorable stories I’ve read had a story where plot and character worked closely together.
Ms. McCollin explained that many writers do not start off with a plot or characters. They start with a theme. Next comes the characters to stretch out the theme that develops into a plot. This is one path a writer can take.
Sometimes a writer may start off with characters with the plot arriving to give them purpose. If a plot develops first, the action brings the characters to life. In either case, a writer usually arrives at a point, a triple fork in the road, where they can focus on plot, character, or both.
It is here that a writer should decide who their readers will be. A story that focuses on plot or character can find readers. However, when plot and character are treated equally in a story the result can become a strong, memorable one that will find even more readers.