Plot-driven or action-driven

PlotThis is for all the writers and other language nerds out there. : )

A long-time beta friend of mine, Amphora Graye, has recently release a series of articles on character and plot. While I highly recommend just generally clicking around her site (lots of good info there), I particularly recommend this article, titled The Misleading Nature of a “Plot-Driven” Story. Like many authors, I have often contrasted “plot-driven” with “character-driven,” but after reading Amphora’s post, I’m going to have to modify my vocabulary.

It starts like this:

Plot is one of the 5 elements of a story (the plot, the setting, the theme, the style and the characters).

The term “plot” is oftentimes used in place of “action,” when referring to what drives a story, but that’s not exactly what plot is. Plot is the chain-reaction series of events that create the core of a story. Plot is what the story is about. It isn’t limited to the physical movement or action…”

Want to read the rest? Go here: It’s well worth the time spent.

Happy reading. : )

Avid writer and reader of Faerie tales and noblebright fantasy.

Posted in Writing
16 comments on “Plot-driven or action-driven
  1. balroop2013 says:

    Thanks for the link Cathleen. I like how the clarity between the plot, action and character has been made. Actually all three combine to make a wonderful book. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re right, of course. Action, plot, and character are all important, as is dialogue, description, and using strong verbs. But it helps, sometimes, to have clarity in what element you’re working on right now. I don’t know about your poetry, but in my stories I’ve got to make multiple passes to try to cover everything. And then I send it to Diana Peach and Amphora to put it through the beta wringer. And then I read it aloud one last time. That’s usually enough. : )

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Thanks, Cathleen. I’ll check it out.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. HI Cathleen, thanks for this link. I must admit I also had this wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s an interesting distinction, Cathleen. I can totally see it. Thanks for sharing the post.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. That makes sense. Saying something is character driven over plot driven implies there is no plot, but with no plot there is no story.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thanks for sharing, Cathleen. I went and read the original. While I do see the main point (many, including me, might use ‘plot’ in place of ‘action’ sometimes), I don’t think that what we mean only pertains to physical action as the author suggests. Things can be more mental, and I still see it as action/plot. It just needs to be written differently to read less as a character-driven piece. There’s a difference between navel-gazing and actually using it for something.

    You and I had this discussion in the past. I know you prefer to focus on characters while I like to have ‘things happening’ more than learning about the character’s favorite movie (unless it means something). To each their own. Like with everything else – finding the right balance is key.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, the tension between the two poles–whether events or characters drive your story–is a choice, and it’s not binary. Shades of gray abound, and personally, I like it when an author utilizes both to make their story interesting. : )

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for the shoutout, Cathleen. You’re very kind.

    Liked by 1 person

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