Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Character vs. Plot

My husband went to a seminar on writing software specs yesterday. He very kindly brought home his notes to see how they'd apply to fiction-writing. It was kind of fun discussing character and plot as they might appear in computer code.

If you write a list of steps to be taken and instructions to be followed, is that a plot-driven story? It's also well-specified software. But what if you know the beginning and end but you're deep in investigation of what's going wrong--like when you're assigned to fix a bug by writing a new algorithm? My husband pointed out you can't specify the path till you know what's wrong. I suggested maybe that's like a character-driven story--you need to know the characters before you can plan the plot.

In the end, of course, you still write an organized list--a computer program, a story with beginning middle and end. But maybe even software engineers have to work in different ways at different times, and maybe fixing a bug is like working with character-driven code.

Once I've finished the housework I'll go back to fixing bugs in the novel I'm writing.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting comparison! Mysteries of all kinds, technological or fictional, must be well-written.-- Jean H.

Ann Best said...

Something has to happen to someone. So it's character first. At least that's the way I see it. Hope you got the "bugs" out of your novel.
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