As written in Publishing Weekly, Nell Zink plays with the idea of Plot VS Character. They’re two essential elements of any story, right? Zink writes how in today’s coming of age novel, there are so many instances where boy meets girl and the characters drive the novel.
Is this really a bad thing? In my opinion, no, I’m a strong believer in the character driven novels, for instance, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. The coming-of-age-novel presents characters tackling the issues in today’s society: depression, school, making friends and (the driver of this genre) the love interest. Now it gets interesting.
Charlie, the protagonist, travels through his first year at school feeling awkward and at first only making friends with his English teacher. Yet he discovers the importance of being the outsider and then has the perk of being a wallflower; seeing people from the outside. Chbosky creates a great example of how a character driven story can create brilliant reading material.
Speaking from experience a lot of teens will read Charlie’s story and be empowered by the outcome, I believe they would spur him on in his quest for companionship and love. I am ultimately saying that plot is not everything. Having a simple plot throughout a novel can really make an impact as long as the character has something interesting to say. The development of the character creates the story, empowers the reader and allows them to sympathise, therefore, (hopefully) giving the reader a positive message to take away into the world with them.
Therefore, my opinion is character beats plot.
A simple plot with detailed characters can bring a story to life. Don’t get me wrong sometimes a story needs a thick plot full of twists and turns but not every book needs a big green dragon around the corner. It’s the small details of the character that really make you thinking.