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What Comes First, Character or Plot? by Sally J. Walker


I believe word-painting fictional characters to be the single most delightful part of creative writing. These people sometimes walk into one’s imagination from real life, as when one looks at a stranger in the airport, bank or grocery store and begins to “What if” background and purpose.  I have discovered new people thought-associated from other creative works like movies and novels.  They have even evolved from envisioning the people living historical events.  And there are also the ones who step into a fictional event that captures my imagination.  Their presence gives a sense of reality to the event that will ultimately become the spine of a plot for a novel or screenplay. To me it matters not if I encounter a fascinating person who leads me into a make-believe world or if an event triggers plot possibilities that need particular kinds of characters or personality types.  In MY creative process I cannot have simply one without the other.  Stories are about humans experiencing life.  The depiction of events requires people to live and observe those events. “But what about animal stories?”  Aha, and do we not personify the animal awareness or attempt to depict and explain animal actions and instincts…