Plot vs Character
Let’s talk a moment about writing. Specifically lets talk about the difference between a plot driven story and a character driven story. In a character driven story the action and flow of he story is created by the wants and personality of the character. Where a plot driven story the action and flow come from the events that need to happen in the story and the characters react to those events. Every one has their preference in types of stories and good stories can come from either method but in my opinion a character driven story tends to be more engaging. They are also harder to write as I will explain.
The reason I like character driven stories better is that in a plot driven story the characters occasionally have to act out of character or be willfully stupid to insure that the events in the plot happen. Character left to their own devices have a habit of wandering off in strange directions and refusing to be part of the plot as the writer intended. If you talk to someone who writes a lot they will tell you of how character get their own voice in the writers head and will tell the writer what they want to do. What the writers often fail to mention is often the writer replies to the character’s voice is; ”No, you are not going to do that because it ruins the next scene, and I like the next scene. Now just sit there and be an idiot for a bit so I can move the story along.”
Take the Lord of the Rings for example. Why didn’t they use the eagles to fly to mount doom? Or send a small contingent of elven archers and dwarf berserkers along with the fellowship? Or enchant a magic bazooka to give to Froto? Or any of the other logical things they could have done to solve the problem in a matter of minutes. Because the plot needed them to be morons and send a dangerously small group to deal with the ring while the rest of the world just sort of milled about and say “I do so hope those untrained farmers we send into enemy territory save all existence succeed if they don’t it’s going to be bad.” If they were smart about this the book would have been over rather quickly.
Which brings us to today page. I like today page. It’s a fun page with some good jokes in it. But it is a very much plot driven page. When I posted page 17 masterof7s said:
Bunny is a sociopath and a killer. For all intents and purposes, despite her affable nature, she is effectively lawful evil. If she doesn’t follow through with this I will be deeply disappointed.
And I couldn’t help but thing that he was right… Not about the lawful evil thing . Lawful implies that the character follow the rules and when Bunny even bothers to learn the rules it’s just so she can break them. Bunny would be more of Chaotic Neutral character since she is not out to hurt or help anyone just “Cause a mess and hope it goes her way”. If Bunny’s player had Lawful Evil on her character sheet I would dock the player a ton of experience…
But that’s not the point…
Even though bad role-playing is a problem that need to be address and it’s not unfair to dock experience when someone is Roll-playing over Role-playing. I don’t care what Tracy and Mark say, it’s not unfair. And honestly, Mark, no mater hot your girlfriend is, you don’t just let her come into a game session and stomp all over the rules like that. I’m not jealous, this is a matter of principal god damn it!
But it’s not the point. The point is masterof7s is right in pointing out I am cheating a bit on this page. If I was to be true to a character driven story the comic would have gone like this:
This is a character driven story. It’s powerful. You get to the very core of the characters this way. You see the change in Bunny, with her crying over the death of Kyoto but Bunny is still being Bunny. Bunny is about doing the smart thing and in this sequence every one is saved (except Kyoto) where in the actual page things are not looking good over all. This is the “good” thing to do in the world view of Bunny.
In general it’s a better direction… except for one small problem. It kind of destroys the plot. And by destroy I mean it jumps it behind the school gym, beats it to an inch of it’s life, steals it lunch money, then lock it in a locker while all the time yelling “why are you hitting yourself?” You have a the main character is doing something undeniably evil, the secondary character dead, leaving only side characters to carry the story. Lucky’s word in the last panel are sort of how I feel about this direction. It’s cool and all, but I have no idea where to go after this.
Any you guys would kill me. There’s also that concern. I tend to avoid things that get me hunted down a murdered by my fans as a general rule.
In the end, I went with the “ok” plot driven page instead of the awesome chaos of a character driven one. If I had more time I might have gone this direction but we have a schedule to keep and you guys don’t wait around for a couple of month while I figure how to resurrect a story that Bunny drove a katana through the heart of. Yes, it’s a bit of a coward move but a justifiable coward move.
It’s probably not the best idea to show the compromises I make when writing. I probably should be one of those confident and arrogant writers who proclaim their every word is pure gold. But I found this moment interesting and wanted to discuss it. After all, you’re not getting a worse story with this compromise since the other direction is a dead end. You just getting the best story I can write, which is all I can ever offer you.
Thank for reading.
PS: Kaomi, I owe you 5 bucks.