Let’s Talk Bookish: Character or Plot Focused Books?

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme created by Rukky @ Eternity Books and hosted by Aria @ Book Nook Bits where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each others’ posts. Today’s topic is: Character or Plot Focused Books?

What makes a book more character focused? What makes one more plot focused?

A character driven book is mainly focused on character arcs, their thoughts, emotions and growth throughout the story. Such books often concentrate on why a character would make certain decisions, and so there is a lot of backstory introduced for them and an internal conflict that is usually what starts the transformation arc.

A plot driven book focuses on events, the actions and decisions characters take, and what effect comes of them and other external factors. I find that characters in plot driven books are not so memorable in and of themselves, but rather for the actions they take or what happens to them. These books are generally very fast paced and full of action.

I suppose the easiest way to put it is that in a plot driven story, the character is used to view the plot, as a means of getting things moving. But in a character driven story, it’s the opposite, where the plot is used as a means to develop the character.

Which do you prefer?

My preference changes by genre for this. I prefer plot driven for mysteries and thrillers – they are usually standalones and there is rarely enough time to build out a character arc without taking away from the story.

For fantasy novels on the other hand, particularly series, character driven is definitely my choice. I would have once said plot driven for this, but over the past ten years or so, my reading taste has changed a lot to the point where I feel something is missing if there isn’t a strong character arc in fantasy novels.

Historical fiction is one where my preference is more vague. I don’t mind character driven if it doesn’t take away too much from the progression of events, but I do lean a little more towards plot based for those books that are set around real people during historical events.

Do you have any recommendations for plot focused and character focused books?

Plot focused books:

  1. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
  2. Shadow and Bone (Grishaverse) – Leigh Bardugo
  3. Realm Breaker – Victoria Aveyard
  4. Truly Devious – Maureen Johnson
  5. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

Character focused books:

  1. The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller
  2. Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo
  3. A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J. Maas
  4. The Infernal Devices series – Cassandra Clare
  5. A Song of Ice and Fire – George R. R. Martin

Some of my favorites that are both character and plot focused:

  1. Harry Potter – J. K. Rowling
  2. Lord of the Rings – J. R. R. Tolkien
  3. Throne of Glass series – Sarah J. Maas

Do you prefer character or plot focused books? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


5 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Bookish: Character or Plot Focused Books?

  1. Fransic verso September 9, 2022 / 2:03 pm

    This is interesting, I didn’t really pay attention to either plot or character but reading your post made me think about it.


  2. I'm All Booked Up YA September 9, 2022 / 5:12 pm

    Like you said, it depends for us based on genre and length of the book. The Infernal Devices is a great example of a character-driven story.

    Liked by 1 person

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