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Start writing fiction: characters and stories
Start writing fiction: characters and stories

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5.1.1 Character and plot

Figure 2

The dictum that ‘character is plot, plot is character’, attributed, by Novakovich, to F. Scott Fitzgerald in the extract that you read in the previous section, is a familiar one, similar to Shakespeare’s ‘Character is destiny’ (from King Lear).

We have already begun to think about how to turn ideas about character into ideas for a plot. Novakovich further develops these thoughts.

This is not to say that what happens to characters is inevitable or predetermined. It’s simply that particular characters seek or attract certain events or encounters.

If you start by building a strong sense of your main character or characters, then add a dilemma, challenge or conflict, you will automatically be generating your plot. Starting the other way around, with a chain of events into which you then fit characters, can often be more difficult and less convincing.

Character + conflict = plot

Apply this formula when building stories. See if it works for you.