What’s Most Important to You? (2)

So, in post 1 of this series, I talked about writing style and its importance to you as a reader and/or writer. And it’s interesting to see that this matters a lot, or very little, depending on the reader. Which I think is probably true for all of these aspects.

Today, I’m going to talk about plot. This is the other middle-ground aspect of stories for me. I think that in many ways plots can truly be the heart of a story, and the main purpose of the tale. It’s the quest, the action, the driving force, the motion. I am a huge fan of fairy-tales, and, aside from morals, these tales are all about plot. The settings are vague, the characters are not usually all that developed, and the writing style is simple. But the plot is what makes these tales, and they are absolutely wonderful for it.

Although I do think there has to be some element of plot for a story to be enjoyable to me, I don’t need a complicated plot. Complex plots can work really well, and sometimes they are fun and intriguing and wonderful. But, honestly, a lot of my favourite tales are slower-paced, and more simplistic in their plot.

I think I’ve mentioned before that endings are my least favourite thing as a reader. Time and time again, I am thoroughly disappointed by the endings of stories. And I usually blame this on plot. The plot tries to have a final twist, or things get overly complicated to set up for a sequel, or else things wrap up far too neatly to make up for the fact that it’s a standalone. Everyone has their own ideas about where stories should head, and never will everyone be totally satisfied with the way things turn out. For me, however, I usually root for plots siding on simplistic, but which have got good depth and heart. I don’t think plots need to be complicated or multi-layered to be interesting and original, and while this is definitely nice to have in stories now and again, I’m not in constant need of having everything be totally crazy and unexpected and complex.

But of course, a simple plot needs better writing, in my opinion. The more interesting and action-based the happenings, the less need for a deep and moving writing style. If the plot is basic, I have to be hooked by the writing to enjoy it. So for me, these two aspects of stories have to go hand in hand.

What about you? Do you need complex plots, do you love plot twists, do you like action-packed, fast-paced stories? Or do you like the simple tales? Or does it matter one way or the other?

2 Responses so far.

  1. As a writer, I definitely (sometimes I would even say, unfortunately) gravitate towards complex plots. 🙂 My favorite books tend to be pretty complicated too, but I also have loved books with a simple, solid plot (sometimes I think this is in large part because they are such a relief after what I've been writing). One of my favorite plot-things is where details you noticed but didn't think were important turn out to be the missing pieces to the puzzle at the end…so I guess, even though simple books can be relaxing and sweet in a way that I need in my life, my preference does indeed lie with the complex.

    And about endings: They have so much potential to flop, and I agree that it happens too often. I think this is simply because writers don't spend enough time and energy on them. :/ (And don't we all know that can be hard? But it's worth it to push…)

  2. Deshipley says:
    A complex story full of hairpin turns or (heaven help me) slick political intrigue can tie my brain in knots or rush right over my head. I tend to prefer a simpler sort of plot, moved more by internal action, reaction, and other character-focused stuff than otherwise.

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