What’s more important in a book: character development or a gripping plot?
The answer seems obvious: both are equally important. However, I’ve noticed that some books tend to lean towards either characters or plot to drive the story forward. There are some books that strike a good balance between the two but this discussion post is about the books that don’t.
I know that they are linked because the characters make the plot and the plot makes the characters but sometimes you can tell when one is being prioritised over the other.
Character based books tend to be more slowly paced and focus on the characters’ personality arcs. The plot behind the story might not be fully fleshed out or have some holes in it but the characters’ journeys take centre stage so it’s alright if elements of the plot aren’t fully explained or the world building is lacking.
For example, the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas is very popular and has a rather large and obsessed fandom even though the books have more plot holes than a moth eaten tablecloth. So why is it so popular? I think it’s because a lot of time is spent on the characters and endearing them to the readers through humerous exchanges and emotional scenes. The story is so focused on the characters that it doesn’t give enough space to the plot.
Whereas plot based books are more quickly paced and lots of exciting events are squeezed into a few hundred pages. However, the characters are flatter, fall back more on stereotypes and have less development. The plot is really well explained and clever but the characters end up lacking slightly.
Another scenario in which the plot overshadows character development is when there are so many characters and points of view in a book that each individual character doesn’t get time to flourish.
For example, I would say that The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer are quite plot based. Lots and lots of things happen in the books and the plot is so intricate and gripping but in my opinion the characters get less development time than in other books I’ve read and can be quite clichéd.
So, if you had to choose between a plot based or a character based book, which would you choose?
What do you think about this topic?
Which books do you think prioritise plot or characters?
Let me know in the comments!