Last week when my interview aired on Author Radio, I'd said that plot was critical. I didn't mean that character was any less so, just that I concentrated on creating good, believable plots in my novels.
After reading the blog of noted mystery author Jane Haddam (I'm now a big fan-- she's a brilliant thinker and blogger), she said that she didn't think plots were all that important, the story was all about the characters.
So I thought about it, and we're both right. Yes, you have to have three-dimensional characters in your book, for without real ones, plots don't matter. For proof, study a lot of genre fiction from years past. Characters cannot be cardboard, or walk-ons. They have to live and breathe, and matter.
But without any action, any point, it's just so much academic fluff. Mere descriptions of people aren't enough, one needs a story. It's the framework which these characters move within.
I recently read two more blockbuster best-sellers with plots of immense stupidity. (I blogged on this awhile back.) Once again, it made me mad, as if the author and publisher had nothing but contempt for the reader. Where is this supposed, much vaunted editing quality that New York Big Publishing is supposed to provide? These dumbass plot idiocies would not have made it out of my editing/critique group.
Do people really not care if the plot is laughably dumb, as long as the writing is otherwise good? To me, it's all a package. If you've got really stupid stuff in there, I stop and roll my eyes, and consider the writer has not their job properly.
I've always said I don't write badly enough to have a best-seller. Two more data points of proof...
In other news, here's a flash for all those who defend Big Traditional Publishing as the kindly, gentle, fairy godmother who cares for all writers. It's Vincent Zandri telling us about his experience. "Hating Amazon and What Random House Did to Me and My Family..."
(Would love to show this to the clowns on Absolute Write who said that publishers would never let a book fail.)