Character Driven VS. Plot Driven

27 Sep
Character Driven VS. Plot Driven

What is the difference between Character Driven Stories and Plot Driven Stories?

These two, while similar, are actually quite different from one another. The key thing to remember is the subtly in them both. Here I will explain them in a way that helps me grasp the difference, and I hope will help you, too.

What does Character Driven mean?

If the characters’ flaws, faults, dislikes, fears, and/or dreams pertain the plot, and significantly influences the story when they are used against the character, or not, at each plot/scene point, and if taking them out of the story risks your story falling flat and contrived, then it is CHARACTER DRIVEN.

It is knowing something about someone, or self, and choosing whether or not to act on that information, and how it will affect the rest of the story, if at all. In Character Driven stories, often, these instances will affect the story as a whole as it pertains to the character, and story. Without the character, there is no story. In these stories, characters are given free will.

Quote: “Everything happens for a reason.”

Character Driven Plots:

  1. The Quest
  2. The Transformation

Character Driven Stories Tend To Have, Or Be, The Following:

  1. Memorable Characters
  2. Fatalistic Plots
  3. Coincidental Happenings
  4. Theme
  5. Timeless
  6. Not Always A Happily Ever After
  7. Teaches (Not Preaches) Life Lessons
  8. Internal Conflict, Physical Stress
  9. Typically Written in First Person POV
  10. Literary Fiction


What does Plot Driven mean?

PLOT DRIVEN is not knowing, caring, or learning about something(or someone)new, and the character is forced to push through the motions/actions, or risk losing everything they hold dear, such as, life and love. This ultimatum creates a new fear for the character that they otherwise had no idea they had, or ever had to worry about before all of those occurrences.

However, a successful Plot and Character Driven story tends to incorporate character development, plus plot development, which resonates well with the audience, and creates memorable characters, stunning plot movement, and leaves the audience moved beyond their means. Typically, for an action packed thriller, no one cares about character development, but I believe that best suits for television, considering most people read to be moved and thrilled. Not just one or the other. Same for the tear jerked movies/shows. People do not care for the thrilling aspects as much as they do as the emotional calling card found on screen versus read in a book.

Quote: “Some things happen by chance, to show us an unexpected twist of fate.”

Plot Driven Plots:

  1. The Pursuit
  2. The Riddle

Plot Driven Stories Tend To Have, Or Be, The Following:

  1. High Concept Story-line
  2. Told in Third POV
  3. Predictable Ending
  4. External Conflict, Internal Stress
  5. Genre Fiction
  6. Formulaic Story
  7. Typically Free of Theme
  8. Effect after Effect
  9. Obstacle after Obstacle
  10. Statement of Happenings



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4 responses to “Character Driven VS. Plot Driven

  1. mitchteemley

    September 29, 2016 at 3:53 PM

    In many of the best stories, I’ve noticed, the two seem to be inextricably woven together.


    • Novelist Engineer

      September 29, 2016 at 4:43 PM

      Yes that is true. I even mentioned that in the post as well. 🙂


  2. Eugenia

    September 29, 2016 at 7:14 PM

    Great advice and thank you for the follow.


    • Novelist Engineer

      September 29, 2016 at 8:07 PM

      Thank you and you are welcome. I just aim to help give aspiring authors the answers I know I would like to hear.

      Liked by 1 person


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