What he said–

When one sets out to write a novel, and dares to tell the world, the advice comes from all directions and often conflicts. Novice writers today will hear about character-driven vs. plot-driven novels. They nod with serious looks on their faces over the serious business of writing positive that these details—knowing the difference between plot-driven and character-driven novels—will lead inevitably to agents and publishers and ultimate success.
And when a niggling voice in the back of their mind whispers “wait a minute, that can’t be right,” they squash it.
Henry James didn’t squash it, he wrote it: “What is character but the determination of incident? What is incident but the illustration of character?”
Plot and character within the world of the novel are inextricably linked. We talk about them like they are separate when, in fact, they are conjoined and unable to progress without one another.
This realization—one that the would-be author may have had before (if not quite so eloquently)—allows the author to set aside the endless discussions of which is more important or less important and focus instead on the heart of the story recognizing that as she develops her characters they will help guide the action of the novel and as the action progresses her characters will reveal themselves to her.
Henry says there are two kinds of novels: “bad novels and good novels.” Leaning on that, the writer should focus on producing the latter and not worry if it is plot-driven or character-driven, and, extending his philosophy further, should write the story rather than endlessly worrying what genre and sub-genre she should label it in her query letter.


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