I’m pleased to have author and agent Lucienne Diver in the Pro-Tip seat this week. She’s a literary agent with The Knight Agency with twenty-three years of experience in the areas of fantasy, science fiction, mystery, romance and young adult fiction. She’s also author of the Vamped young adult series and the Latter-Day Olympians urban fantasy series.
Plot vs. Character?
Plot and character are both vital to your writing, BUT you can have the greatest plot in the world and no one will read your work if your point of view character isn’t compelling.
On the flipside, if your main character is intriguing and original with a voice all his, her or their own, you can truly invest your readers in what’s going on and keep them turning the pages to make sure everything turns out okay for your protagonist. A unique, dimensional antagonist is equally important. People are complex; your characters should be no less.
I guarantee that if you come up with amazing characters, you won’t settle for ho-hum things for them to do. Interesting characters will have interesting goals and real stakes. This is what really drives your story.
Lucienne’s stories and essays have appeared in Strip-Mailed, Fangs for the Mammaries (Baen Books), Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories (HarperTeen) and Kicking It (Roc/Penguin).
If you’ve enjoyed this article, you might check out some of the articles in the Pro-Tip Series:
Laura Anne Gilman: How to Solve Writer’s Block
Lawrence Watt-Evans: I Wish I’d Known This When I Started Writing
Karen Taylor: To Outline or Not to Outline?
Paul Dale Anderson 1: Ideas & Improving My Writing
Paul Dale Anderson 2: Beginnings, Endings, Self-editing and Other Craft Problems
Cat Rambo: Finding the Right Starting Point
Alyssa Wong: When is a Piece Ready to Send Out?
Martin Mundt: To Outline or Not to Outline?
Theodora Goss: Writing in More Than One Medium or Genre
Elizabeth Massie: How to Get Unstuck and Solve Writer’s Block
Gemma Files: Plot vs. Character
Season’s Greetings: Some Recommendations To Warm Your Cold Cockles
Craig Shaw Gardner: Critique Groups and First Readers
Also, check out the first of what will be an occasional feature: Quick Takes, where several authors weigh in on the same question.
If you’ve got a question you’d like me to pose to the pros, put it in the comments section.
Tina L. Jens has been teaching varying combinations of Exploring Fantasy Genre Writing, Fantasy Writing Workshop, and Advanced Fantasy Writing Workshop at Columbia College-Chicago since 2007. The first of her 75 or so published fantasy and horror short stories was released in 1994. She has had dozens of newspaper articles published, a few poems, a comic, and had a short comedic play produced in Alabama and another chosen for a table reading by Dandelion Theatre in Chicago. Her novel, The Blues Ain’t Nothin’: Tales of the Lonesome Blues Pub, won Best Novel from the National Federation of Press Women, and was a final nominee for Best First Novel for the Bram Stoker and International Horror Guild awards.
She was the senior producer of a weekly fiction reading series, Twilight Tales, for 15 years, and was the editor/publisher of the Twilight Tales small press, overseeing 26 anthologies and collections. She co-chaired a World Fantasy Convention, a World Horror Convention, and served for two years as the Chairman of the Board for the Horror Writers Assoc. Along with teaching, writing, and blogging, she also supervises a revolving crew of interns who help her run the monthly, multi-genre, reading series Gumbo Fiction Salon in Chicago. You can find more of her musings on writing, social justice, politics, and feminism on Facebook @ Tina Jens. Be sure to drop her a PM and tell her you saw her Black Gate blog.