If a writer remembers one thing, it should be that plot and story are not the same thing. Regina Brooks, author of “Writing Great Books for Young Adults,” defines story as “the full sequence of events in a work of fiction as the reader imagines them to have taken place, in the order in which they would have occurred in life.”
Two different types of stories exist in fiction writing, plot-driven stories and character-driven stories.
- Plot-driven: In a plot-driven story, the pre-determined story line is the main focus. The behaviors/actions of the characters revolve around what the events in the plot that lead up to the climax in the story.
- Character-driven: In a character-driven story, the characters and their actions are the main focus and help to moved the plot along. This type of story involves a lot of emotion, internal conflict, and revolves around character behavior. The character-driven story has a high point of a character realizing something about him/herself (usually a weakness or overbearing problem) and then deciding to fix/overcome it.
The kind of novel/story you are writing and your intended audience will almost always determine which of these two story types you will use. Novels/stories written for young adults are almost always plot-driven, whereas things written for an adult audience are character-driven. I imagine this is not always the case, however.
[Have you come across plot-driven books for adults? What about character-driven stories for young adults? Share with me in the comments!]