David A. Cathcart reports:
"One of the most common problems with the fantasy and science fiction manuscripts I read is that they are plot-driven rather than character-driven. What I mean is, the author appears to have come up with an interesting high concept, plotted out a series of events and then inserted a cast of characters to play them out. While this might seem like a logical way to write a science fiction or fantasy story, I would argue that this approach is exactly the opposite of how things should happen. The problem with the plot-driven model is that everything is external and, therefore, shallow. Instead of feeling like real people who are allowed to learn and change and grow, characters are reduced to mere 'plot points' brought on stage to serve the needs of the author rather than the story itself. As a result, the characters feel flat, and the story is cold and unconvincing. The first step toward avoiding this error is to realize that plot should always be subservient to character transformation. In other words, in a good story, the events that unfold will always be a byproduct of character choices made under pressure. Characters are never a byproduct of story events...The second step toward avoiding the error of the plot-driven story is to realize that character transformation always unfolds through a predictable series of stages. Once you have a better understanding of how this change process works—and how our natural resistance to change automatically builds tension and suspense—you’ll never write a plot-driven story again."
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