Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Characters, Plot or Setting

Someone once told me, that writers are usually exceptionally good at one thing (characters, plot or setting) in writing and then have to work on the others.  I can totes see this; in your mind, you might have one great idea, whether it's characters, plot or a different world, that sticks, which makes you want to write that novel; you just can't get it out of your head.  Or maybe it's just a natural ability to see that part of the book really clearly, and therefore you're exceptionally good at writing the one part.  

For me, I think it's setting, which to me is kinda the lamest, lol, especially if I were to write contemporary.  Readers usually care most about plot and characters rather than setting; it's almost an after thought.  Readers remember great characters and interesting plots and twists.  Done correctly, readers don't think about setting because it should flow so naturally that they don't notice the world building.  But having that be my one forte is lucky because I'm writing a fantasy novel, so setting is a BIG deal; I'm trying to create a completely different world so having a strong sense of setting really helps envelope the reader.  Maybe that's why I chose to do a fantasy world in the first place.  

As for characters, in my head I know what I want them to do, but they don't always come across that way on paper.  I find myself revising and editing them a lot, trying to get the right voice and the right motivations for all of them.  I think I get it eventually, because at the outlining stage, I usually have the clearest sense of the characters.  Plot is definitely the hardest for me, which is ironic, because I like plot-driven books the best.  I usually have a premise, but then finding a problem or something that needs solving, takes a lot of brain-storming.  And then the plot holes!  ugh.  I don't think my brain works linearly, so it constantly goes off on plot tangents that I find myself having to reign in.  Revising is definitely key.  For now I think I'll stick with fantasy world building.

What do you think?  Which part of writing are you the best at?


  1. Hmmm, I'd have to say I'm probably best at plot, because I really hash out the details while I write. It's a huge pet peeve of mine when the story stops making sense, or when things come out of left field and feel more contrived than surprising.

    Then again, I've been told I create great characters. Sometimes I struggle with making sure they all have their own voice, so I'll go with plot. Best of luck with your WiP!

  2. Hi Gina! I do hate when the story just stops making sense and isn't believable. Once that happens, I just can't finish reading it. I think, for me, it just means I have to outline more. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Don't sell yourself short! I just read The Scorpio Races and the setting there was so beautiful in a cold way with its cliffs and dunes and rundown town, so vibrant, the hard scrabble little island of Thisby, that I remember. I remember it as well as the characters and the plot.

    See The Books of Pellinor for a beautiful, memorable fantasy setting too.

  4. Hi Gilly! I will definitely check out both those books; I'm always looking for new reads, especially great fantasy setting books :)