Betraying your Characters for Plot

One of the larger themes in this community is Character First Writing. This blog post from Chuck Wendig came into my inbox today and I found it relevant and a good reminder about not sacrificing who our characters are and what readers expect of them for the sake of a plot angle.

WARNING : Before I post the link below, I want to caution that Chuck is rough around the edges and may not be suitable for all readers. I think he has good things to say about character-focused plotting in his posts but expect profanity, some sexual references and a grim view of the world.

With that prefaced warning, here comes the link to the article. The opening text might not appeal to some readers, as mentioned, so I’ve suppressed the one box display for the link.


Chuck is great and I think his brand of swearing is fantastic.


I do so love it when you and I can disagree in a loving and mutually supportive community of peers. Anyone who has mentioned Chuck in, or out of context, knows I will smile and nod appreciatively that at least you read through to the end and pondered his words. I can do one or the other, I cannot do both. What concerns is that a writer of his stature would twine movies and books, plot and character as somehow exclusive, or inclusive. Movies must prevail through their plots, books their characters. There, I’ve made clear my bloody generalization.

1 Like

Are you referring to this particular blog post of his or to his posts in a more general sense? I’m a little confused.

My friend who writes code for games likes him. At a seminar I once attended on screenwriting referenced his blog, so naturally I took a look. Blogs, unlike essays, often establish their premise and conclusion in their title so we then see a thousand words reinforcing the dozen, or so at the top of the page. I am not Chuck’s audience, and his is not my genre. With movies and scripts and telecasting, something has to be happening all of the time. And, it is usually happening in a positive direction - a la plot. As Jon, the screenwriting coach says, you’ve got onehundredandten minutes, make 'em count.

That is why I asked if you were referring to this particular post of his or in general because the point I got from the article was somewhat different from the title he gives. So far as I can tell, he isn’t proposing there be no action or plot. He is suggesting you don’t twist your characters out of their identities just to fit some piece of plot action; especially if you have established in an earlier place that such an action by the character would be particularly illogical and highly against their nature without a good reason for it.

1 Like

You make a good point. I hadn’t considered that. Thanks!

I see a lot of people doing this in fanfics. They have a character they (or their fandom) really like, and they force them into their own mold with no prior explanation or reasoning. They just have character A doing X-thing because “it would be cool” or “that’s how I want them to react.” ::roll_eyes: