Friday, January 24, 2014

What Drives You?

Some writers have a way of creating luscious characters that remain with the reader long after ‘The End,’ while other writers have the skill to twist and turn the plot to keep the pages turning. I think it’s a difficult task to create both the emotional connection of the characters, making them multidimensional, and the drama filled action of the plot. This is not to say that all stories have one or the other. It means that many authors and genres have a particular focus.

I have published a dark, psychological suspense novel, Net Switch, and I’m currently working on a women’s fiction/chick lit novel, Fogged Up Fairy Tale. These books are different genres, so I read and researched what drives these genres—character, plot, or a mixture of both.

A suspense needs to have just that, suspense. It’s important to focus on the plot to give the reader an action packed dramatic experience. As I began writing Net Switch, I wrote the twists and turns, the second-guessing that remain until the last sentence. After all, it is a suspense so I achieved the continuous suspense build-up, yet I realized that in my novel I needed to also focus on the main character. For the book to succeed, the reader needed to feel and cheer for the main character while the tension built throughout the story.

I can personally say that it was a difficult task to focus on character and plot. What helped me with character development was creating the book in journal form. It is written as a journal—the main character’s—so she pours out her emotions. This way, the reader can get into her head, experience her emotional turmoil as the drama of the plot keeps picking up speed.

In my opinion, a women’s fiction/chick lit needs to have more of a focus on character. Of course the plot needs to continuously move forward, but the importance is the characters. The reader’s experience is about finding a like or dislike for the characters. What brings them from A to B is important to the story, but how they get from A to B is what makes this genre exciting. A woman’s troubles—what got her there and how is she going to get out of it. But the reader must be able to relate to the character to take the journey.

As I revise Fogged Up Fairy Tale, I have to keep in mind that the main character needs to be relevant. She needs to have a past, present, and a fogged up future. It’s my job to get her to the end with the reader at her side, hoping for the best outcome.

Reading is my main way of learning the craft of writing. I’m currently reading, Just One Day by Gayle Forman, and Three Little Words by Jessica Thompson. I decided to read these books because I believe they are character driven. The links will bring you to Amazon where you can read the reviews.

I started out reading Three Little Words. I’m on page 314, and wondering when this is going to end. It’s been weeks since I’ve picked up the book. The chapters are about different people and scenarios. I’m sure by the end, all these different people are somehow connected, but I’m to the point that I don’t care anymore. The one thing I can say is Jessica Thompson does a good job with character development. I feel for them. This book did help me understand the emotional drive of the characters.

Unfortunately for me, I’m not with the majority when it comes to Just One Day being a great book. I’m on page 102, and I’ve been yawning about the story and the characters since page 4. For me, the main character isn’t likable because there’s no character development. It’s a lot of talking and not enough showing. The main character, Allyson Healey, complains about everything and has no depth. When a character just complains about this or that from the beginning, it’s kind of hard for the reader to really like them. Okay, it’s kind of hard for me to really like them—apparently everyone else liked the characters. Anyways, this book isn’t a good example for me to follow.

As you can see, writers have their own way of writing, and readers have their own likes and dislikes about books.

As a writer, are you a strong writer when it comes to character driven stories or plot driven?

As a reader, do you look at genre and expect certain things from that genre?

Driven and Writing,


  1. I guess you could say I am a fan of plot. I follow the story and how the characters interact within it.

  2. I would actually say I'm more character driven. I try to make my characters as unique and lifelike as possible, and because of that they drive the story.

    1. Reading your blog, I would definitely have to agree with you.

  3. Hmm, I did submit a comment to this post, but don't see it. I definitely look for certain elements in various type of genre fiction, which is probably why I don't read a ton of it. I'm more for experimental literary stuff or heavy thematic element. I guess I'm not one to read for escapism. I'd rather read for craft and to appreciate a writer's style, in addition to a great story. Too much genre fiction is all surface and no depth. Every once in a while I come across a book that bridges the gap between literary and genre fiction.

    1. I didn't have another reply from you. I hope this new template isn't going to eat up some comment submissions. *sighs*

      Interesting take on reading. I assumed most read fiction to escape into another mind or world, but my assumption was wrong.