Recently I read a blog interview with Beverly Bateman in which she talked about her writing style. I was intrigued to hear the way she “plots” out her books. Clearly her style and mine are different.
Bateman is a plot driven writer. When asked whether her characters or her plot came first, she quickly responded, “No, my plot always comes first. I love to plot and once I get an idea for a plot I think about for a little while, get a feel for it and then I start to work on the type of characters that would work in the story.”
For me, it is the opposite. I am character driven. The plot surrounding The Clock Strikes Midnight, for example, completely changed as the characters emerged. I had to know the characters intimately to be able to tell the story. The plot grew and developed along with the characters. Once I knew the characters and their motivations, I could create the story around them. In other words, rather than start with plot and creating characters who fit that plot, I start with characters and they generate the plot. Often I start with an idea or the germ of an idea, but many times that idea disappears or completely changes.
n my cozy mystery series beginning with e-Murderer, the plot pushed the characters. In this instance I felt myself more plot driven. Like Bateman, I knew what was going to happen and I was pretty sure I knew how it happened. The actual getting there was fuzzy. That part emerged with the characters, at least for me. Bateman sounds much more plot driven than I am even in this instance. For me the characters have a lot of control over the story. There was a red herring that popped up in the cozy mystery story that I had not anticipated. And, new characters introduced themselves with great frequency to move the story along.
It seems to me all writers have a different style. What works for some doesn’t work for others. There is not a strict formula. If there was, well, I guess everyone would be writing fiction!
What is your style?
Nanci Rathbun says
Like you, my mysteries are character-driven. In the first, Truth Kills, I had to introduce and develop the characters. In the second (not yet published), I also focused strongly on plot, also. It was an interesting experience to be deep in the guts of the plot and still balance the need to maintain characterization. I hope that means that I’m growing as a writer.
Joan Curtis says
Nanci, Are you writing a series? It’s even harder to keep the characters interesting with series writing. When we first introduce characters, we have so many new places to go. The series characters return and when they do we must show changes and to me that’s even harder. But, as you say challenges us a writers.