Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly series created by Rukky at Eternity Books and hosted by Aria at Book Nook Bits. The full list of September topics can be found here.
This week’s topic is about character focused and plot focused books.
I like both but I definitely have a preference…
What makes a book more character focused?
I have always found character driven books to be focused more on internal conflicts than external conflicts. They tell the story of a character going through a pivotal moment in their life that’s bringing change they may not like, and the reader is watching them navigate this change. Of course there are external conflicts in these stories too but the focus is usually on an internal change.
What makes one more plot focused?
Plot focused books have a very clear beginning, middle, and end that the reader is made aware of from the first chapter. Here I’m thinking of mysteries or adventure stories, where we know the protagonist or hero is going to face a significant external conflict with many obstacles along the way to accomplishing their goal. There is often internal development throughout the course of the story but these types of stories focus mainly on external goals.
Which do you prefer?
Based on my reading stats it’s clear that I prefer plot-driven stories. I think this is because they are more straightforward and predictable in that they tend to follow certain genre characteristics. Whereas with character-driven stories I often find myself wondering when things will kick off and expect some exciting ending when that’s usually not how those are concluded.
Do you have any recommendations for plot focused and character focused books?
A great character driven book that I read this year is My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith. This book is about a man named Paul who spends a few weeks in Italy researching his newest cooking book. There is no tangible plot, the story just follows Paul on his journey through the Italian countryside, and it is a delightful read. I knew going into it what McCall Smith’s work is like so I was satisfied with the story and ending.
When it comes to plot-driven books, there are almost too many to recommend. I am thinking of all the mysteries I read and one in particular being the Cormoran Strike series. (I am currently reading book six, so it is top of mind.) These books always begin with a crime that the two main characters have to solve, and it is largely what moves the story forward. The characters themselves are incredible and add so much to the story but ultimately the focus is the plot, the crime, catching the criminal, and/or stopping them from committing another crime. Doesn’t that sound fun?