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Plot- or Character-Driven

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I checked in at the Booking Through Thursday blog, which is the host for a weekly book meme or blogging prompt. Here is this week’s prompt:

Which is more important when you read — the actual story or the characters? I’ve read books with great plots, but two-dimensional characters, and I’ve read multi-layered characters stuck in clunky stories, and I’m sure you have, too. So which would you rather focus on, if you couldn’t have both?

Some of my most memorable reads are character-driven. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro focuses on the personal journey of the butler Stevens, who looks back in retrospection, with regret, that he feel likes one of history’s victims, as he comes to realize that he may have taken the wrong path. Stoner by John Williams is also propelled by a dense characterization of the title character. John Williams, in depicting Stoner, whose indifference becomes a way of living among the dark forces and sadness that have swept over the society, seems to be saying that most of us will live quiet, unremarkable lives that can probably be summarized in a few sentences and that contribute nothing to humanity’s accomplishments. The Great Gatsby encompasses both—with quick actions that drive the story forward but also superb bantering/dialogue that reveals the depth of characters. If I cannot have both, I’ll pick a character-driven because character-driven stories emphasizes on characterization, inner conflict, and relationships—elements that can set the wheel of the plot.

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