Seen in The New Yorker THE AWKWARD FAME GAME: In Chicago, I'll encounter two kinds of readers in signing lines and in interviews. One kind will say to me, essentially, "I like your book and I think it's wonderful that Oprah picked it." The other kind will say, "I like your book and I'm so sorry that Oprah picked it." And, because I'm a person who instantly acquires a Texas accent in Texas, I'll respond in kind to each kind of reader.
Excerpt from Meet Me in St. Louis by Jonathan Franzen
I'm a beginning writer. What's more important, plot
memoir fiction non-fiction genre roman a clef bildungsroman metafiction faction magic realism postmodernist novel high modern postcolonial novel
Sure, ask us which came first, the chicken or the egg. You'll get long
answers for both questions.
wanted to write the Great American Novel?
PLOT. One crowd says plot is critical; there must be conflict; some problem needs to be resolved. A writer once said, "I put my main character up in a tree, then I have someone throw rocks at him, then I try to figure out how to get that character out of the tree, short of using lighting bolts."
CHARACTER. Another faction states that if your novel is character driven, then the characters become the plot, taking a path that is unique to their anomalies and afflictions, like warts on frogs. Both make interesting reading if done well. Both structures have their place.
Choose one; prepare to defend your position. Be fearless with your decision. When writing fiction, you get to be in charge, at least until the book leaves your hands and gets shipped to the publisher.