Which would you prefer to write? A novel about a war that encompasses generations and various mythical countries or a novel about how one protagonist must cope within the war torn world?
This is highly subjective and depends a great deal on what kind of novel you like to read. Personally, I’m greedy and love a good novel that combines the best of both worlds – great characters and an interesting plot.
However, when pressed to choose, it’s always about the characters. I will suffer through the most mundane, clichéd plots if I can connect with the novel’s protagonist. I want the protagonist and his/her struggles to seem real. Now I know I’m in even murkier waters with a subjective definition of what it means to convey a believable protagonist.
In order for a fictional character (fantasy or otherwise) to seem real to me, I don’t look so much at what the protagonist does as why he/she acts. What is the character’s real motivation for taking on a quest? Are they forced into their decision or do they undergo their various trials out of a choice? Once I understand the why of a protagonist’s thought process, I can lock into that character’s story.
A lot of people I know also like to read plot-based novels and stories with many characters. These novels tend to cover the lives of many different characters without locking on any single protagonist.
Which do you prefer to write and why? I’m especially interested in hearing from folks who read and write more plot orientated novels. What is it that makes writing and reading plot-based novels appealing to you?