Character vs. Plot

So there is the conventional fairy tale, the ghost story, and usually tales of adventure. Then are there are the literary works, and the unconventional, which focus on an individual. Plot vs character.

I’ve personally never noticed this until just recently, but there are specific forms of stories that lack character development purposely. I have always thought to write with the character in mind. Yes, I wanted an exciting story, but I also strove to write developed, dynamic protagonists. I wonder now, if I re-read my early works of daring escapes and pirate attacks, if my characters would be flat. Stories that involve multiple events and scenarios, and that work to create new worlds and fantastical occurrences seem to have characters which are slightly less developed than other genres; with good reason. It is all about your focus. Are you trying to explore a human condition? A psychosis or maybe a criticism of society?

H.G. Wells used this tactic. His “War of the Worlds” focuses on the Martians, and he goes in detail about the events of the days of the war. Most of his characters, especially the main ones, are nameless. Instead he focuses on his ideas and messages. The two characters: the curate and the artillery man, represent two different social groups. He moved the focus away from an individual to pose questions and commentary of his time period. 

Then there is the other end of the spectrum. The stories which focus on the intense development of a character. These stories involve personal tragedies and responses. They are fascinating from a human perspective and can explore the condition of humanity as an individual. What is the nature of evil? Are humans inherently good or bad?

Either direction can pose for fantastic literature. It is all about the message, and how best to utilize it. 




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