Friday, June 19, 2009

Chicken, no egg.

Charles here, weighing in on the Great Character or Plot Comes First Debate.

To me it’s obvious – it’s plot.

Only kidding, it’s character. And with some characters I’ll read anything they want to do. Bertie Wooster describing a long and pointless night out? I’m there, hoping that he stretches it out to 50 pages. General Sir Harry Paget Flashman ranting about people braver and more honorable than him? They’re not hard to find, but I’d listen to him rail against them for chapters. If it’s a good character, well-drawn and fleshed out, I’ll stay glued for as many pages as you’ve got.

I hope I don’t sound too addled, but many times – too many, really – I forget the plot. When life rears its ugly head, I may have set down Book A for a few weeks. Since I often read four or more books at the same time (right now it’s The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Where Eagles Dare, the new on one Mark Twain and a book by Kerry Greenwood, the title escaping me at the moment.) So weeks go by but I still haven’t given up on Book A. If I liked the characters (plural, as one good character won’t make up for many poor ones) I’ll pick it back up and read it, not bothering to go back and refresh myself on the plot. Who cares, I say as I flip the book open, I just want to spend a few hours with a some interesting folks.

But right now, as my lunch hour draws to a close, I have to run off to spend a few hours with some interesting folks I work with. I don’t even think there’s a plot to this story.

1 comment:

Debby (Deborah Turrell) Atkinson said...

I can relate, Charles! (Love those exclamation points) Right now I'm listening to one of Donald Westlake's excellent Dortmunder novels in the car. What fun--and it's because of the characters. The plot? I know what it is already, but I want to know how Dortmunder deals with it. Oh yeah, the writing ain't bad, either.