Characters are tough to nail. Theyare the heart of any stor even one that is completely driven by plot. If you on’t have engaging characters navigating their way through the plot, then you are SOL. Yes, I went there. If you don’t have a character that people like, can relate to, be captivated by you are going to be running an uphill battle.
There are many kinds of stories. However of the many kinds of stories there are two main kinds of stories. There are plot driven stories. Plot driven stories hinge and thrive on the plot of the story. The oter major kind of story is a character driven story. Rather than the story hinging on the character’s plot, it’s about how the character moves through the their story. In many ways I like to think of the two kinds of stories as one is the characters manipulate and move the plot, whereas in the other characters experience the plot and it’s complications.
On the surgace that may make the stories seem similar as it is true that plot is present on both stories. The major difference often is the kind of plot. For one a character driven plot is often light. There is a central problem that needs to be solved. It is not complicated and if there are any twists they tend to arise at the end rather than in the middle of the story. Their plots are straight forward and easy follow. This is because if the plot becomes too complicated it will take the focus away from the character. Rather than a story that the character drives the story becomes about the plot.
Just because a story is plot driven doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need strong characters. A strong character will make a plot come alive in ways that any old character couldn’t. This is because when you have a plot driven problem you are often attempting to solve an outward facing problem. This requires the characters to not just make decisions that will impact them emotionally. It makes them need to be a certain type of person to get a certain type of result. Inserting a different character, one who may not be the type of person who can handle the situation will get you a very different story. Those differences are the heart of the story. How one character reacts is different than another, that will make the difference when it comes to the stories.
All of this is just part of why characters are difficult. Just like people. They are complex, yet simple. There’s a lot going on and to believe that some is predictable is exactly when they surprise you. That is what makes it all the more exciting.