Sunday, 19 July 2009
What makes a story memorable?
Most of you are presumably book lovers. I should hope you are, or you have no business writing. Of all the books you have gone through, there will be some that stick in your mind forever. Particular stories that when you think of them, make you want to smile or even better, pick it up and re-read it. What are those stories? What makes them memorable? Plot or characters? Of course the ideal thing is to have everything. Great plot, great characters. But does one contribute more than the other towards making it memorable? My personal belief is characters. I love the books with great plots, but when I think about think about a book long after I have read it, more often than not, I will think of particular characters. I may not remember all the details of a murder, but I remember Sherlock Holmes or Poirot. I may not remember how the whole cold-war scenario worked, but I remember James Bond. When I think of Little Women, I think of Jo and Laurie, and Meg and Amy. It is always the characters -the people who make the fiction real, and make it connect to the humanity within us that makes stories memorable for me. I have read a lot about character driven stories vs. plot driven stories. I do believe that they should be driven by both, but without excellent characters, I don't think a good plot by itself would be enough to make a book special enough to be remembered after I have read it already. What do you think? Do you consciously set out to make your story character driven or plot driven?