Character and Plot

I’m still working on revisions for my middle grade novel.  Learning more about my characters as I go, especially the book’s antagonist.  How his story weaves in and out of the protag’s story, how the two connect and finally, change.  I realize that I’ve been afraid to explore this character’s story.  Why?  Is it because I don’t like him very much?  There seems to be a lot more there than I’ve let come through, and I feel like I’m just now scraping the surface. 

I know about character sketches, the pages of information you write down about your characters before you actually begin writing.  Technically, I’ve done that.  However, if I’m truthful, I’ve probably focused most on the mc.   But then, beyond the character sketches, within the story, there seems to be a depth, a fathoming of the character, that can’t be identified until you get in the midst of everything.

That said, I thought I’d share this info from Martha Alderson’s The Plot Whisperer ( ).  It deals with not only character profiles (it’s been interesting to look at this from the antagonist’s POV), but also how the development and use of character affects your story.

Stories can either be character-driven or action-driven. As the title implies, character-driven stories revolve around the character, are usually slower-paced and internally driven, and the action takes a back seat to the development of the character. Action-driven stories are fast-paced and externally-driven, and the character takes a back seat to the dramatic action.

The goal in writing a compelling story that brings pleasure to the reader or audience is to have a balance between character and action.

Take the Test to determine whether you are stronger at developing Character Emotional Development plotlines or Dramatic Action plotlines.

Fill in the Character Profile below for your protagonist (the character who is most changed by the dramatic action), any other major viewpoint characters and, if there is one, the character who represents the major antagonist for the protagonist.

1. What is this character’s goal?

2. What stands in the way of the character achieving his/her goal?

3. What does the character stand to lose if he/she does not achieve his/her goal?

4. What is the character’s flaw or greatest fault?

5. What is the character’s greatest strength?

6. What does the character hate?

7. What does the character love?

8. What is the character’s greatest fear?

9. What is the character’s dream?

10. What is the character’s secret?


If you filled out questions 1 through 3 with ease, you prefer writing Dramatic Action.

If you filled out questions 4 through 10 with ease, you prefer writing Character Emotional Development.

If you filled everything out with ease, both plotlines come easy.


Without a firm understanding of questions 1 through 3, you have no front story. The Dramatic Action plotline is what gets the reader turning the pages. Without it, there is no excitement on the page.

Without a firm understanding of questions 4 through 10, you are more likely to line up the action pieces of your story, arrange them in a logical order and then draw conclusions. Yet, no matter how exciting the action, this presentation lacks the human element. Such an omission increases your chances of losing your audience’s interest; readers read 70% for character. 

What To Do Next

Now that you know where your strength lies, check out the pages for each type of plotline to learn more about each one. You’ll also find specific plot tips for strengthing a plotline that may be weak in your current project.

Here’s the specific web addy for this info: