Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Character vs. Plot

I had dinner last night with a wonderful group of women, many of whom I hadn't seen in almost ten years.

Driving home, I got to thinking about relationships, and like everything else in my life, those thoughts got me thinking about writing.

Prevalent thought is that suspense is plot driven, and in general, characters are quite secondary to the story. I'm thinking that's a dangerous thought to subscribe to.

I want my characters to matter, because if they don't, how can I expect to have anyone care about the plot? The greatest, supsensiest plot in the world is irrelevant if the characters are flat and unconnected.

The plot does not always propel itself, but connected characters who I care about sure can.

I recently finished reading Silent Thunder, the terrific new book by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen. Definitely a well constructed suspense novel, the characters were just as three-dimensional as the plot—even a couple of the secondaries.

So, I played "What if?" about the illustrious group of women who sat around a table in a busy restaurant Monday night.

What if one of them was being stalked?

What if one of them was a stalker?

What if they were being used because of their careers and relationships to unknowingly help a terrorist group?

Relationships. Suspense. Yeah.

Currently reading: Step on a Crack by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

It's all better with friends.


  1. Iris Johanson is one of my favorite authors. I didn't know she had co-auhtored one.

    I'll have to look for it.

  2. I reviewed it for www.armchairinterviews.com. It was my first Johansen, but not my last!

    Roy is her son, and an award-winning author as well.

    It was due to hit the shelves yesterday.

    You're gonna love it.