Home    Contact   
Publishing Menubar Book PublishingMagazine PublishingAudiobook PublishingNewsletter PublishingE-Book PublishingeZine PublishingPublishing Menubar

Home
Associations
Authors
Awards
Book Binding
Book Fairs/Festivals
Book History
Canadian
Careers
Censorship
Children's Books
Contracts
Copyright
Design/Illustration
Distribution
Editorial
Education
Genres
Indexing
Libraries
Literary Agents
Marketing/Publicity
People/Profiles
Printing
Publishers
Reviews
Sales/Bookselling
Self-Publishing
Software
Statistics
Translation
Vendors/Services
Writing

RECOMMENDED!






Writer and Plot: The fiction writer's chicken and egg problem

by PublishingCentral   

 
 


Do circumstances govern men, or do men control their circumstances? This age-old question is the crux of a controversy in fiction writing: does your plot derive directly from your characters, or do the events of the plot shape your characters?

William Dean Howells once wrote, "The true plot comes out of the character; that is, the man does not result from the things he does, but the things he does result from the man, and so plot comes out of character; plot aforethought does not characterize."

A more moderate view is that events ordinarily modify characters, and that in certain instances characters actually make events. When circumstances pile up, irresistibly driving man on to his destiny, we have a tragedy. But not all life is tragic. Now and then the hero's hand disposes of affairs and he arises victorious.

When Thackeray planned Vanity Fair, the characters gave form to the plot. On writing to his mother he said, "What I want is to make a set of people living without God in the World (only that is a cant phrase), greedy, pompous men, perfectly self-satisfied for the most part, and at ease about their superior virtue."

To conceive of a character as subject to the limitations of heredity or environment opens up an endless number of combinations of characters and plot.

The writer need only dip in and sample.