Monday, September 30, 2013

Characters and Plot by Janet Lane Walters

Writing a novel seems to be circular. Characters drive the plot but the plot drives the characters. Sound confusing? Not really. The plot is the underpinning of the story and the characters are the exposed parts. Choosing the right characters to move the story forward takes strategy. Putting the wrong character in the lead can make a story fall flat. Usually in a story there are 3 characters who form a triangle. For the purpose of this we'll call them the hero, the heroine and the villain. These characters have relationships with each other and their actions and reactions are what drives the story from beginning until the end. There are other characters in stories who relate to the three main ones and these form their own triangles or their own patterns of interaction.

Action bridges character and plot. How many times have you heard "He's acting out of character?" If there's no good reason for this action the story will fall flat and flat stories aren't what writers strive for. How does one make the pieces fit together?

Consistency is one way. Check your characters to make sure their emotions flow in a consistent pattern through out your story. Don't have them loving an object, idea, or person one minute and hating it the next. Unless inconsistency is their nature. Even here you are being true to the character? A character like this would be one who responds to the person they are with. An interesting thought. Sort of like the Janus god that looks at the world through two faces.

Make sure the characters who are the focus of the story are strong enough to sustain the action. Whether you're writing a dramatic or a comedic story a weak character will make the action fall flat. Give your characters a backbone and make them want what they want with an internal passion.

Take your characters and raise them above the mundane or stock characters. Give them some complexity to make them larger than life rather than some ordinary person a reader doesn't want to know.

Believe in the characters you write. If you're developing a really evil villain, make sure you believe in this character. One of my favorite bad guys is found in Code Blue. Yes, he is evil but he's also human and I tried to show the human parts of his character as well as the inhuman parts.

Write about human emotions in your stories and don't throw in a character who seems to be driven by the plot. The plot is a road map of a journey taken by characters and the things that happen in the story are the results of the characters' actions. not the reverse.

Characters are chosen because of the plot you've designed but once on stage let the characters tell the story and move the plot forward, not the reverse.


Code Blue

When Susan finds the body of the hospital’s “gossip queen” in the orthopedic storage room, she doesn’t realize this is the first of a series of murders involving her colleagues or that her life is in danger. She is a widow and is exploring a new romantic relationship that promises love but she fears the man she is falling for is as controlling as her dead husband. The arrival of courtship gifts, at first, seen as innocuous soon takes on a sinister note.

Previously published as Obsessions
"This book kept me on edge from the first page to the last. Several times I just 'knew' I'd figured out who the killer was, but each time, there was a bit of doubt there until the very last paragraph! I highly recommend this book. 4 Stars (Excellent!)" ~ Tracie's Book Reviews by Kathy's Faves and Raves

"A series of murders, suspense, action, a tad of love makes Code Blue an intriguing tale designed to mystify your mind. If you love mysteries, you'll love Janet Lane Walters newest release. 4 Stars!" ~ Just Views

"Fast-paced mainstream novel. . .Walters plots carefully, each scene constructed to perfection. For readers who enjoy being terrified, this is an author to turn to for entertainment. She tells all, while managing to create paranoia among the characters." ~ Affaire de Coeur  


Janet Lane Walters has been writing and published since the days of the typewriter. She has 30 plus novels and seven novellas plus four non-fiction books published. Janet lives in the scenic Hudson River valley with her husband, a psychiatrist who has no desire to cure her obsession with writing.

She is the mother of four and the grandmother of five with two children expected to arrive soon from China. Janet writes in a number of genres - Romance from sweet to sensual and from contemporary to fantasy and paranormal. She has published cozy mysteries and medical suspense. She also has a number of YA fantasies published. Visit her Blog: 



  1. Hi Janet,
    Great post. You are so right, I think characters can make or break a story. I myself love the drak, tortured heroes who find redemption at the hands of the heroine.



  2. Good points about characters and plot!

  3. Yes, Janet, it's so important to believe in the characters we create! A great blog entry...


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