Tag Archives: theme

Plot and Theme, the Enemies of Character?

In Michael Chabon’s essay “On Daemons & Dust”, he mentions that plot and theme are the enemies of character. It’s an interesting statement that a little fiction writing can force someone to appreciate. Almost every paragraph involves an authorial decision, “Do I let this character be real” = deep and uncontrollable or “Do I take control of the character and make him or her dance to the plot or themes that I wish to lay down as author and story architect?” Different authors, even different works by the same authors fiddle around with the xs and ys of this x + y = z = story equation, but it’s always a dilemma.  It’s sometimes possible to accomplish both, but not often because it’s typically a binary proposition: control a character or do not control a character. Too many competing desires, too little authorial control and the story melts into meandering chaos (recognize chaos? it’s also known as real life). Too shallow the desires, too heavy the author’s hand and the story turns into a lecturing parable complete with axe to grind. The most enjoyable stories do the best they can at both, while recognizing that they can never and should never imitate life too closely and recognizing that no one wants a lecture.