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Character Driven vs. Plot driven.
Posted: Posted August 31st by tnu
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Had a conversation with someone about this recently because he had always assumed I preferred character driven works wh ereas I always assumed i favored plot driven. so I looked at osme definitions and came to the conclusion that yes I do tend to favor plot driven works which seems to be a niche opinion or at least one people aren't usually keen on admitting. Generally I find detailed timelines and settings that have detailed inhabitants much more interesting than the emotional conflicts and in ner struggles of a select set of characters that are focused on (I honestly prefer it the focus of the story not to be stuck on a specific "core cast" anyway as it gives me more to explore). But is this an unusual take because I seem to see a lot of people talkign as if chracter driven works are objectivley superior for whatever reason.

Sir, just suppose... suppose if I had a cat, what would you do with Frankenstein?
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Characters & their stories are more important to me. That's why Empire Strikes Back is the best Star Wars movie for me and one of the reasons why I like The Last Jedi in spite of its flaws. It's also one of the reasons why Babylon 5 is my favourite TV show.

Of course you can have a decent set of characters in a plot driven story and you can have a decent plot in a character driven story. In fact it's basically essential to have no matter which type of story it is. I just prefer a story that focuses on the characters and their drives, their relationships with each other, their internal struggles, etc.

As to your preference. What you described sounds more like world building than actual "stories". Based on the works of fiction you seem to like I would probably agree with your friend that you prefer character driven stories.

But is this an unusual take because I seem to see a lot of people talkign as if chracter driven works are objectivley superior for whatever reason.


Neither is objectively superior because it comes down to personal preference. I think the first two Star Wars movies serves as a half decent example of the two types.

A New Hope has the characters notices driven by the plot. First they're told to save the Princess and then they're told to destroy the Death Star. We never really stop to analyse much of anything about the characters or their relationships with each other. They're still fleshed out enough that you get a sense of who they are though.

The Empire Strikes Back on the other hand is far more focused on the relationships between the characters. Han going out to save Like because they're friends, the entire Falcon chase is fun because of the interactions between the characters- C3PO complaining, people getting annoyed at him, Leia mocking Han, the romance that develops between Han and Leia. Yes it's got some great set pieces in the asteroid field and whatnot but the actual plot here is just "they're being chased". Everything that happens is character (and explosions I guess). Not to mention Luke discovering Vader is his father toward the end, the struggle Lando faces in realising he's made a terrible decision betraying his friend & his city.

There's obviously other reasons to like one of these two movies over the other (Empire had a bigger budget for everything and did more interesting things in terms of the action) but for the overall story you can probably determine which type you prefer based on these two movies. Neither is objectively worse in terms of story, just a different focus that will appeal more to different people's tastes.

Edited August 31st by Moonray
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Moonray
 
Posted August 31st by tnu
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tnu
 

I think a successful work needs to have both. Avatar: The Last Airbender has stunning plot-driven elements, like the need to master the elements before the arrival of Sozin's Comet, and episodes that play out in a very technical and structured way like The Drill, The Blue Spirit, and The Boiling Rock. But the plot-driven approach would fall flat if the characters are shallow. I recall a trend of plot-driven movies following the success of Casino Royale, Hollywood had an affinity for plot-driven action movies, but without good characters it had no meaning.

In the same show, Tales of Ba Sing Se is a fan-favorite and considered the most beloved episode, and the entire episode is just different moments with characters in the big city. And the double-whammy Appa's Lost Days focused more on the turmoil Appa faced as a result of the horrible ordeal he experienced rather than the importance of the events themselves. It's moments like these that made the show rise to the top, and the fact that it can switch between extremely plot-driven and technical sequences to very deeply character-developing moments on a dime was part of its success.

The Storm, I think, shows the best of both worlds. There are several stories happening simultaneously, and the flashbacks focus on the development of Aang and Zuko's character. It moves forward with the plots and develops Aang and Zuko as more complicated characters than the black and white we initially assumed. Take away the emotionally charged character development, and the plot weakens. Take away the plot, and the character development just results in mushy applesauce. You need both.

Posted August 31st by mariomguy
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that's actually why I operefer long form it doesn't have tio be one or the other.

Posted August 31st by tnu
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tnu
 

pleb tier:
world-building

normie tier:
characters, plot

S++ tier:
prose

Edited September 1st by poptart!
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Poptart is correct. Purity of style is galaxy brain.

Posted September 1st by Canary Yellow
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Personally, I like setting-driven followed by theme-driven. Plots tend to be the same thing over and over, and good characters are hard to find anywhere whatsoever.

Posted September 1st by Xhin
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Xhin
 

Also yeah, agree with poptart, art for the sake of art can be pretty damn good.

Edited September 1st by Xhin
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Xhin
 

Also yeah, agree with poptart, art for the sake of art can be pretty damn good.


I would much rather have art being for the sake of art over art being for the sake of product - and especially over art being for the sake of social media cultural critique.

Posted September 1st by Canary Yellow
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I can prefer whatever so long as it resonates with me enough. I don't really have much to say though because while I can and do sometimes if pushed to, I don't actually like dissecting what I think is good and why in great detail and I don't really actively train myself for it.

Good to see you around though tnu.

Posted September 1st by Grey Echelon
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