Conundrums, conundrums…

Which do you prefer, a character-driven story or a plot-driven story?

Obviously, we all love it when a book delivers both well-rounded, fleshed-out characters and an awesome, engaging plot, but what happens when we can only have one?

I honestly can’t decide.

On one hand, I love Lord of the Rings for a multitude of reasons, but it is very much a plot-driven book. The world and the journey through it are very detailed and fleshed out, but the characters themselves tend to rely on archetypes and trends within the story rather than deep development of their own (I say this lovingly, of course, and have been known to get surly with people who doubt Tolkien’s greatness as a writer).

On the other hand, I love the character development in, say, the Harry Potter novels. Every character grows and changes over the course of the seven books. I don’t always like how they change, but I love how we as readers get to see them grow and how much detail J. K. Rowling puts into their pasts and their lives and how that influences their  motivations (Neville’s and Draco’s story arcs being two of my favorites).

Luckily, the two examples that I’ve picked do a pretty good job of providing both a detailed plot and relatable, fleshed-out characters, so I didn’t really have to choose between the two when I picked these series up.

So, if you had to choose, which would you prefer, and what book would you use to represent that choice?