Many beginners in writing especially those who have not gone to class to study writing as a subject are usually torn between these two common styles of story writing. While none is superior or better than the other, it is important to distinguish these two writing styles and know when to use one or the other.
Character driven story
In this writing style, the story revolves around inner conflicts, characterization, and relationships of the story’s actors. This kind of story will often draw the reader to a character’s attitudes, decisions, and personal evolutions. This type of a story will often have a goal of changing attitudes or achieving personal change. This writing style is often used in literary fiction.
Plot driven story
In this style, the story will be about events and external conflicts and actions that have a bearing on the characters. In this type of writing, the character’s goals often involve changing a situation, obtaining something/someone, escaping or winning in events. Plot-driven stories are commonly used in thrillers, romance fiction, and mysteries.
Which is better?
Different writers have different views on this question and will mostly follow one writing style. Even the big names in writing like Robert Ludlum will be seen to stick to one story writing style. Fans of plot-driven story writing style say that these types of stories have better pacing with the reader going through different sub-plots, twists, and turns. While this is true, the reader is not able to travel with the writer in the development of the story. The reader can only take what is on offer.
Character driven story fans say that this style provides the reader with a richer experience as she goes through the inner struggles of the character. Character driven stories have a more believable human touch as the reader will readily imagine being in the same shoes as the character.
Each style can make a very good story when well executed. The character-driven story cannot work if the character does not have well thought out situations to react to. The plot-driven story does not work if the characters are poorly developed and are unbelievable.
Working with the two
There are many good books that borrow from the two styles. The Lord of the Rings is a good example. The Hobbit sets out to achieve a personal goal of ending evil in the world. In the journey to the destination, he comes across many events and people who eventually change the way he looks at the world.
Which one do you write with? Or do you try both? Let me know in the comments