How to Write a Plot-Driven Story
Now, let’s discuss what to keep in mind when you’re writing your plot-driven story.
- Remember that characters push the story forward.
The story shouldn’t move the characters like lifeless game pieces. It’s the characters that should move the story forward. The characters’ choices should impact the story and not be inconsequential.
While things will happen to the characters, your story is in how the characters respond to those things. And to figure out how your characters will and should respond to those circumstances, you must be clear on who your characters are.
Your story isn’t just about the character being acted upon, it’s also the character causing the action.
- Take into account the character’s back story.
When deciding how the character will interact with the scene and drive the plot forward, you need to know more about the character.
One of the best things you can do to develop your characters is to create a character bible. This is especially important if you’re writing a plot-driven story and are afraid your characters may fall flat or come across as stereotypical or cookie-cutter.
- Ask yourself about the character’s motivation.
Here’s a rapid fire set of questions for you:
What’s the character’s motivation in every scene?
Why is the character making this decision and not that one?
What in the character’s background has led them to make this decision?
There’s no need to reveal an entire backstory to the reader. In fact, I’d rather you don’t. But it’s important that you know the motivation and that it’s consistent with your characterization. When you understand what’s motivating your character(s) to act, you can drop hints throughout your story. This can feel your readers understand your characters and feel more connected to them.
How to Write a Character-Driven Story
When you’re writing a character-driven story, you still need to inject cause and effect. Here’s how:
- Make sure the characters you create are actually doing something.
Your characters must interact and respond to their environment. In fact, that environment should in some way shape your characters. Your task is to decide how that environment does just that.
- Don’t weaken the story to keep your characters “perfect”.
Perfect is boring. Oftentimes we, as writers, fall in love with a hero or heroine, and want to show only the good sides of him or her. We put that character in situations or circumstances where he or she will obviously win. But you need tension and doubt within your story. You need to create a read where the reader doesn’t know for sure if or how the character will overcome this obstacle.
You’ll do that by not going easy on the story.
A realistic character is a messy character. They’re going to make choices that the reader doesn’t agree with. That’s okay. In fact, it’s essential. It shows that the character is “real” and vulnerable.
- Ask yourself this one question:
What’s the worse thing that can happen?
Now, through it at your character(s). How do they respond? It may just surprise you.
Every now and then, you need to challenge your characters with the worst case scenario. And, make it an external threat, not just an internal one. This is how the characters really learn what they’re made of– and the readers, too.