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How to Tell if Your Story Has Too Much Plot, Not Enough Character by K.M. Weiland - Usa




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Can a story have too much plot?

It might surprise you (especially if you’re a regular reader of the site), but the answer is absolutely, yes.


Implicit in the question of too much plot is the idea that a story should have more of something else. Usually that something else is character. This is where we find the well-entrenched battleground of “plot vs. character.”


It’s unfortunate these two crucial ingredients of story are often presented as exclusive opposites—bitter rivals who can barely stand each other—because the discussion at the heart of “plot vs. character” is much more nuanced. As you probably know if you’ve spent any time on the site, I dislike the whole structure of the “plot vs. character” discussion. Too often, it’s presented as a simplistic either/or paradigm that demands a clear winner: either plot or character must be the undisputed Monarch of Story.


Ultimately, what that argument is really about is a style of writing. Those arguing for more plot are usually arguing for more conventional, often genre fiction; those arguing for more character are usually arguing for more interior-oriented, often experimental, literary fiction. That’s a discussion for another day, but suffice it that both types of story almost inevitably require both plot and character.


As we’ve discussed in many previous posts, plot and character are less competitors and more symbiotes. Once you understand the self-generating cycle of “character creating plot creating character creating plot,” you understand that the two work optimally when they balance each other within the overall storyform.


But what happens when something is out of balance? What happens when your story has too much character? Or too much plot?


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