Musing Mondays – Plot v characters

Today’s question from Should Be Reading is:

Do you prefer character-driven stories, or plot-driven stories?

This is a remarkably tough question (and please bear with any linguistic nonsense coming up, I’ve spent the afternoon verifying a translation from German to English and I tend to end up speaking English with German grammar after a long stint).

My immediate reaction was “plot, obviously!” but then I thought about the books I don’t get on with and it’s almost always due to a lack of likeable characters (Snapshot, Nina Todd Has Gone, William Walker’s First Year of Marriage) rather than a lack of discernible plot. If the novel is a beautiful character study (e.g. The Weird Sisters  – review to come, Moon Tiger), I don’t mind if it’s primarily character driven.

I save particular venom for novels with no evident or reasonable plot, no characters with whom I can identify, and terrible language. For a book to get more than 5/10 from me, it’s got to have 2 out of 3. The God of Small Things only got 5/10 because of the amazing language. Ditto A Visit from the Goon Squad – again, review coming soon – got 3/10 for the concept and clever ideas.

I guess I’m on the side of the characters then!

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3 thoughts on “Musing Mondays – Plot v characters

  1. FleurFisher 22 August 2011 at 9:57 pm Reply

    I’d say characters too, but with the proviso that there has to be something to hold my interest once we’ve met, and that would usually be a certain amount of plot!

  2. Ellen Rhudy 23 August 2011 at 12:04 pm Reply

    I’m with the above – while there are certain books that I love despite a lack of discernible plot, the ones that I tend to get most excited about and recommend the most are the ones with a clear plot AND well-developed characters. I am pretty sure that my recent, rabid Dennis Lehane fandom is all about the plot, but when I recommend him to people it’s always the character development I talk about. I’m not interested in reading a well-plotted book with flat characters…but I also don’t recommend many books if I can’t, when asked, describe the plot. I guess this places me somewhere in the middle?

  3. […] written about this before – and came to the conclusion that both are […]

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