As a reader or a movie and video watcher gets through with a viewing or reading a book, one can say, “yeah, I see how that went and fit together.” But as an author and a writer putting things down on paper or in a file ……. It isn’t easy.
A few years back I attended a weekend writer’s conference. One of the speakers was First Blood author David Morrell who gave a great talk on his career, working on the TV show of Route 66, referring to himself as “Rambo’s daddy,” and his original writing motivation of fear. So, when I came across this plot versus character blog by Jodi Henley, discussing First Blood as character driven, then the subsequent movies being plot driven, it was fascinating.
Jodi Henley has a great blog on these topics at: http://jodihenley.blogspot.com/2014/02/how-to-tell-difference-between.html
Henley also discussed the movie The Descendents as another example, and the Die Hard movie. She asks at the end, “so how can you tell what’s what?”
The short conclusion by Jodi Henley as she wrote, “If your character’s motivation to get through the story or do whatever you want him to do flows out of who he is (in back story), then most likely it’s character-driven. If you think you’re going to need a little less input from the peanut galley to get your character from beginning to end, it’s most likely plotted. And I’d suggest either thinning your character out a little so he can fit into the story, or finding a story that fits the character.”
One might argue that these are movies, but, they were books first, and screenplays are written with the same problems. And, story is story no matter what the type of writing it is. An older adage is that “story” is feelings, and “plot” is what a character does.
I suppose many know up front what version/type of their own story they are writing. And many stories are driven by both plot and character. Henley reserved that for another lengthy piece.
An editor once told me to delete anything that did not move the plot. Some back story was kept. But I had too much back story that dragged down the plot.
I’ll repeat the first sentence above: As a reader or a movie and video watcher gets through with a viewing or reading a book, one can say, “yeah, I see how that went and fit together.” But as an author and a writer putting things down on paper or in a file ……. It isn’t easy.
If you have answers, contact me or comment.