A to Z Challenge: Development

When the time for revisions come, this one is pretty important to look at.
For a reader to enjoy the story, something has to change. Maybe it’s the plot changing the character’s world. Or maybe it’s the character that changes. Or even both.

But something has to change. Because if it doesn’t, and everything goes back to how it was before the start of the story, what would be the point? Why would a reader sit through the thousands of words in between?

So during revisions, you might want to see if your characters grew. Especially if  you’re more of a plot driven kind of writer. It’s something I find quite a lot, that the plot-driven stories have awesome development in the plot, but almost none in the character. In fact, they can potentially let characters go through the motions required by the plot and leave the characters relatively unchanged. (And in some action-books I’ve read, unscathed.)

On the other hand, character-driven writers tend to have excellent character development, but the plot development is a bit lacking. I actually think it’s easier for a character-driven writer to get both right, because a character can’t change if something didn’t happen to him or her. Still, the plot aspect to the story might feel murky or undefined. As if something happened, but the reader can’t be sure.

Both of these can be acceptable if it’s what you’re going for. If not, you might want to spend a revision round either defining what’s going on inside the character, or outside around the character.

More specific than that, I can’t really help you, since it depends on the story. But if you have development issues in your story, you can contact me and I’ll go through your work to see if you can improve on character or plot development. Otherwise, you should have a crit partner who’s able to help you out.

Look Out for These:

1) Plot feels like it’s going nowhere, even if it is in fact moving towards a point.

2) The plot is full of events, but the character seems to have learnt nothing, or didn’t change, or seems largely unaffected.

3) Plot development: Crit partners say that you have pacing issues, but deep down you know the pacing is fine.

Are you a character or plot-driven writer? Do you find yourself having to go back to make sure the development of plot and/or characters need to be better defined?


50 thoughts on “A to Z Challenge: Development

  1. A boring plot will put me off faster than anything. It doesn't have to be non-stop action, but I do want to feel as though things are moving toward a climax or decision point.

  2. As a reader, I want to see well-developed, dynamic characters because I think it makes the plot even better when the characters are pushing so hard for something and things are getting in their way! So as a writer I strive hard to create those kinds of characters. I feel like if the characters are well-developed, the plot is easier to plan since you can't have a plot without characters to fill it.

  3. Sometimes the problem for me is not that my plot goes nowhere, but that it goes somewhere completely different than I intended. I guess that's the very nature of development.

    Great post and happy A-Z blogging.

  4. Hi Misha, thanks for the follow and now I'm following you back. Good luck completing your novel–it sounds like you are already well-versed in good writing tips.

    I like what you said about character-driven authors perhaps having an easier time with achieving good plot and characters since you have to have a compelling plot for characters to change. Characterization is probably more important than plot for me as a reader.

  5. This is some great advice. I mostly write nonfiction and my posts are based off of my life. I am currently writing a book…based on a true story.

    I've always wanted to be a YA writer, though. My struggle is dialogue.

  6. I must say I find this very interesting. All of the letters so far. I always need some guidance when I'm writing. I get lost so easy and always need some direction. Thanks, following now.

  7. Great post, Misha, and I love your new countdown clock. 😀 I better get cracking on that feedback…

    I was the opposite. Great at plot, weaker at character development. It's something I've had to learn. That's the great thing though, we can learn and improve, and eventually rock it. 🙂

  8. For me, it's initially the plot, but, once established, the characters must get on with it. I really dislike it when characters always look the same, always react the same. And, thanks for the follow. I'm happy to follow back.

  9. I think my characters drive my stories, for the most part. They 'speak' to me and I generally follow their lead, although I do like to throw them into predicaments every now & then to see what they'll do! lol

  10. I'm more of a plot-driven writer, which is why I take the extra time to examine and re-examine my characters and their development during my revisions.

  11. I can't tell if I'm plot driven or character driven. I never plotted anything before I started writing, nor planned any characters, I just started with no idea where I was headed or who I was writing about. My view of my story is now so warped from being in it for such a long time that I'm not sure I could figure out development issues without outside help. Love my CPs for that. 🙂

    PS. That butterfly is so cool!

  12. I think I'm a character driven writer but plot is very important to me too, so it's a toss-up. I DO find my characters grow when I put them aside and the plot itself re-shapes, pulls together better.

  13. I am very character driven. I'm working on being more plot driven but its hard for me to try to focus on just the plot. I'm thinking I'm going to have to force myself to outline more.

    They say being aware of a problem is the first step towards fixing it…right?

  14. I have no idea which I am.

    When I start out, I start with a concept and maybe a scene or two. Maybe. Then I work on the main character. Especially their name. Then I plan out plot points adding in characters as I go.

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