What's more important, changing the characters or plot?


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Thread: What's more important, changing the characters or plot?

  1. #1

    What's more important, changing the characters or plot?

    I find my characters painting themselves into corners, but feel I shouldn't change the character around. I should have the character stay true to themselves, but if that means they will paint themselves into a corner, should I change the plot around them to prevent that?

    Or perhaps painting themselves into a corner is good, and even though it seems impossible for them to get out of, no corner is impossible, and there is always a way out somehow that I should look for?

  2. #2
    All of the above.

    You can modify a character to fit the plot, or change the plot to fit the character, but you can't leave the character in the corner, twiddling his thumbs (and boring your reader).

    Generally, it's easier/better to have the character realize they're stuck in the corner and try to get out of the corner.
    "Ammonia will disinfect sin."
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    "Art is life, just add bull****."
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  3. #3
    I think you "painted them into the corner". If you have to have them act inconsistently with their personality, that's not good. But writers do that. If you have to have something magical happen, that's even worse. Writers do that too. When you think of a way out, you can decide whether you should have painted them in that corner in the first place.

    James Bond will be in a seemingly impossible situation, then save himself with an amazing new weapon he just happens to have. But we are told about that weapon at the start of the movie. You are allowed to rewrite the previous part of your book to make your "solution" better -- more plausible, more in character.
    How to write a good start: Hidden Content . Useful, original information. Long and thorough.
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  4. #4
    If they paint themselves into a corner, you could just let them realize their error too late, and then end the book. It's a tragedy now.

  5. #5
    Oh Okay, but the story needs to be longer to build toward a different ending though... I guess my struggle is the trick to avoid a situation from becoming an impossible situation, whilst still have the character act consistent with no magic or deux ex machinas or anything like that. How do writers avoid the situation from becoming impossible in the first place, if it's in the character to create the impossible situation?

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
    Oh Okay, but the story needs to be longer to build toward a different ending though... I guess my struggle is the trick to avoid a situation from becoming an impossible situation, whilst still have the character act consistent with no magic or deux ex machinas or anything like that. How do writers avoid the situation from becoming impossible in the first place, if it's in the character to create the impossible situation?
    No tricks, but if you're characters are incompatible with your plot or vice versa then that means you need to go back to the drawing board totally.

    It's not as simple as jimmying with a character trait to get a result. If you designed your characters well, you can't change one aspect of them without affecting other things.

    Imagine Captain Hook without a hook for a hand. You could argue 'oh it's just a hook' but it isn't - it's also Captain Hook's entire raison d'etre, which is to kill Peter Pan because Peter Pan cut off his arm and fed it to a crocodile (I think that's how it went down)

    I'd say 9/10 it's easier to change the plot than a character, because a plot is by definition malleable to the characters within it. You don't get a woman being stabbed to death in a shower without Norman Bates, however you could have Norman Bates in some slightly different storyline - no shower scene, maybe he invites her into the house. The character of Norman Bates is what makes the shower scene work and not the other way around. However that of course assumes you had Norman Bates to begin with. Not some two dimensional moron.

    Just write the plot according to the character(s) reaction to the various key points that make up your story and you shouldn't have this problem.
    "If you don't like my peaches, don't shake my tree."

  7. #7
    Okay thanks. Well if I go back to what I had before and have the character behave without changing the character at all, he traps himself into an impossible situation, but how does one stop the situation from becoming impossible then or are there any concepts to that to be aware of?

  8. #8
    Member Rojack79's Avatar
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    I'd say that you need an outline for this story. It seems (at least to me) that you have all of this stuck in your head. Take it form me the king of having all the thoughts stuck in there head, Don't do this! Trust me it will do you some much needed good to have a plan.
    This might not be my best work but that just means there's room to improve.

  9. #9
    Oh okay thanks. Well I have the outline all mapped, it's just the thing is, is that it's really difficult for me figure out the how. I have the who, what, why when, just not the how. The biggest part of it, is trying to set the story in modern times, and trying to have criminals get away with their crimes, cause crime solving technology is so advanced nowadays, that it's almost impossible to get away with a crime, and that is my biggest challenge is writing around that believably.

  10. #10
    Member Sir-KP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
    Oh okay thanks. Well I have the outline all mapped, it's just the thing is, is that it's really difficult for me figure out the how. I have the who, what, why when, just not the how. The biggest part of it, is trying to set the story in modern times, and trying to have criminals get away with their crimes, cause crime solving technology is so advanced nowadays, that it's almost impossible to get away with a crime, and that is my biggest challenge is writing around that believably.
    My third worlder life experience says that technology does nothing so long you got money and contact.

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