The major pitfall of the plot-driven writer is thinly developed characters. However, this pitfall is symptomatic of a greater challenge that arises out of the natural inclination of the plot-driven writer to focus too pointedly the story arc.
Why is this problematical? To do this, the writer calls in linear thought and critical thinking, which puts the cart before the horse.
Linear thought seeks patterns and solutions. Its movement is toward order and completion, both of which are integral to the development of any creative endeavor, but not at the beginning. The creative process finds is origins in images and feelings, both of which are decidedly non-linear. The first stage of the process is often quite chaotic. Anything is possible.
Overcoming the Pitfall Without Creating Writer's Block for the Plot-Driven Writer
In my experience, asking the plot-driven writer to start the process from other than his home base can bring on writer's block. For plot-driven writers, the plot twists and action are what open the imagination. What characters feel and think can be secondary to the plot-driven writer. For them, characters support the plot, when just the opposite is true.
Does this mean that the plot-driven writer is doomed to starving his characters? Absolutely not! As I said in an earlier posting on this blog, I know many character- driven writers who feel they are incapable of creating exciting plots. So it's all in the balance.
What is the plot-driven writer to do? I believe that a writer should never try to change how she instinctively approaches the writing process on first or even second drafts. Begin writing what is easiest and most fun for you. If that means plotting and planning and outlining, then do it! Your mind will never give you peace until you do. However, do it with the understanding that there is nothing sacred about the plot and outline you devise.
Once the outline is sketched out, it’s time to fall into character. This isn’t as easy as it seems. The mind that loves to organize and control doesn't readily fall in the messiness of character and the chaos of the unknown.
In the next postings, I will explore ways for both the plot-driven and the character- drive writer to overcome their challenges. To read the entire series, click on the Category: Character Vs Plot on the left.