Which Came First: The Chicken or the Egg?

A fellow writer and I teamed up to set up our own writing partnership. We are not collaborating on a book; instead, we are supporting each other in our attempt to become better writers. We agreed that we would work on independent projects and then turn to one another for constructive criticism as well as encouragement. We also decided to periodically issue ourselves a writing challenge, set parameters, and then compare notes.

Our first attempt at this came to fruition this weekend. We each took the challenge to create a new character – we described the character’s appearance, his or her background, what made the character tick, and decided to see where our imaginations led us. Happily, we each came up with an idea for a story based on what we wrote about the characters. I now can’t wait to get cracking at writing the story!

From time to time, I’ve wondered if there is a correct way to develop a story. Must the writer already have a rough outline in her head of the story she wants to tell? Or does she develop the story based on the characters she creates? Which comes first – the character or the plot?

I must say I like the idea of approaching a story by beginning with a character and then working backward. I used to think the best way to approach a story was with a plot already in mind and then write characters that advanced the plot as I envisioned it.

But now I’m not so sure.

I’ve always found it easy to listen to the voices of my characters. They are very real to me and much loved – even the psychotic ones! If you let them talk to you, they’ll surprise you with their stories. My character did that for me this weekend; she shared her story with me. Now it’s up to me to give life to it.

How do you approach your stories? Do you begin with your character – or do you start with the outline of a plot?

About Kate Loveton

Aspiring novelist. Avid reader of fiction. Reviewer of books. By day, my undercover identity is that of meek, mild-mannered legal assistant, Kate Loveton, working in the confines of a stuffy corporate law office; by night, however, I'm a super hero: Kate Loveton, Aspiring Novelist and Spinner of Tales. My favorite words are 'Once upon a time... ' Won't you join me on my journey as I attempt to turn a hobby into something more?
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10 Responses to Which Came First: The Chicken or the Egg?

  1. Pingback: The Advantages of Writing The Bare Minimum Outline | Writing For Non-Writers

  2. Gede Prama says:

    Amazing, Thank you for writing which is quite good and best wishes always, and greetings

  3. Pingback: The Advantages of Writing The Bare Minimum Outline | The Collaborative Writer

  4. Definitely starts with a character. They just pop into my head and start talking. And the more I let them do their thing, without forcing a them to follow a strict path, the better stories they come up with 🙂

  5. For me personally, I find it easier to come up with a character first and then flesh my story out around them. I suppose it is a case of doing what suits you best. I don’t think that there are any hard and fast rules when it comes to writing a story. For some, it is a scene that they see in their mind, for others it may be a line of dialogue and so on and so on….

    I believe writing to be quite an organic process and so I like to sow the seeds, be it with my characters, a setting or a particular line of dialogue. I then like to add to it regularly (in essence, watering my little seeds), I walk away for a bit and give the seeds time to grow, before coming back and tending to my crop. Hopefully, I will have the beginnings of a good yield and something that I can expand on and perhaps turn into a story. Probably not the best analogy, but I’m sure you get what I am trying to convey.

    Perhaps the first rule of writing should be: There are no rules!

  6. electroquill says:

    I usually get a general idea for the story first, then start to flesh out the characters. Then once I have my main characters, the story starts to take shape. This all happens in my head, mind you! I don’t start writing anything until I have been daydreaming and formulating a story to full form in my head. Sometimes for years!

    • Kate Loveton says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I especially liked the ‘sometimes for years’ remark… I like to think of that as ‘percolating’! 🙂

      Thank you for following my blog.

      • electroquill says:

        No worries, Kate. I’m pretty new to all this, but I saw you started following my blog conditionallyhuman, which is actually now defunct! I am going to try to blog under Electroquill. Cheers, Christy.

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