What is Plot-Driven or Character-Driven Fiction? #WhatsOnYourBookshelfChallenge #WOYBC #LetsDiscuss2022

Today for the August #WhatsOnYourBookshelfChallenge and #LetsDiscuss2022 I’m asking two questions: (1) What is Plot-Driven or Character-Driven Fiction? (2) Do you have more Plot-Driven or Character-Driven fiction on your bookshelf?

Plot-Driven or Character-Driven?

What is Character-Driven or Plot-Driven Fiction? Image: white text over a background picture of a young woman holding a tall stack of books in her arms that is balanced under her chin

Image Source: Canva

What’s the difference?
Is this an important distinction?

Which do you prefer?
Why does it matter?

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

It’s helpful when we love or dislike a story that we analyze why. I’m proposing that one of the reasons you enjoy or dislike a story is because you prefer character-driven or plot-driven stories. Once you know which you prefer, you can make reading choices that lead to a more satisfactory reading life.

The following lists are a few examples of each from my reading and represent my opinions. In your reading experience, you may categorize these differently. Please add your own recommendations in the comments!


If you prefer primarily character-driven, you enjoy stories that focus on character development, reflection, and motivation. The story may have a bit of a plot but that is not the main purpose of the story. The action is mostly internal. If you enjoy character-driven stories, you might prefer Literary Fiction where main characters often reflect on the meaning and purpose of life.



If you prefer primarily plot-driven, you enjoy the action that drives the story. These stories can have wonderfully complex characters but the stories are page-turning as you want to find out what happens next. Thrillers and mysteries are most often plot-driven.


Is There a Balance?

YES! For myself, I prefer a BALANCE! My perfect stories are page-turning with wonderful character development!


Do You Prefer Character-Driven or Plot-Driven?

Reading Tastes & A Satisfying Reading Life

After reading for decades and and reflecting on my reading choices, I know that I prefer a BALANCE of character and plot.

If I see that a book is totally character-driven, I read many reviews to see if it will have enough of a plot to engage me. I’ve learned that a heavily character-driven book with  minimal plot will likely end in a DNF for me (with a few exceptions).

You’ll notice that I have listed very few plot-driven books. The main reason is that I don’t read a great deal of mysteries or thrillers. I do love a page-turning plot but not at the expense of character development.

Consequently, a BALANCE between Character-driven and plot-driven is my sweet spot! These are the books that will likely be awarded five stars and earn a spot on my lifetime favorites list.

A Picky Reader

Some will accuse me of being a picky reader. Well….yes I am! I KNOW my reading tastes and I want to use my reading time wisely. My (virtual) bookshelf is definitely filled with books that provide a balance of character-driven and plot-driven.


Do you have more plot-driven or character-driven fiction on your bookshelf?
Can you recommend a favorite title for one of the categories??
Do you agree or disagree with certain placements? (that’s really ok because no two people read the same book!)

 I’m linking up with Deb @ Deb’s World and Sue @ Women Living Well After 50, Donna @ Retirement Reflections, and Jo @ And Anyways…. for the August installment of #WhatsOnYourBookShelfChallenge.

Whats On Your Bookshelf Challenge

This post is also an entry for the 2022 Discussion Challenge hosted by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight

2022 Discussion Challenge (meme)

Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.” ~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.” ~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.” ~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.” ~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text

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Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© ReadingLadies.com


    • Whenever I choose character driven it’s always a gamble! I get bored easily! But when I started to list them I came up with quite a few! 🤷‍♀️

  1. I think I prefer a mix of both as I have read (and heartily enjoyed!) nearly every book you listed under that heading! I do like a book that’s hard to put down but it can’t be just plot driven as I do have to be invested in the characters as well.

  2. I love a balance between plot and character but will happily read both. I probably like character driven more and will happily read books where there isn’t much plot if I enjoy the characters and their relationships. Atlas Six was a bit turn off for me as I didn’t like any of the characters.

  3. Hi Carol thanks for linking up with us for another month of WOYBS? Like you I think I like a balanced approach – character and plot driven. I hadn’t ever really considered the difference so enjoyed your post and the topic. See you next month.

  4. Hi, Carol – I did reply to this post earlier today. I wonder if I am hiding inside your Spam Folder?
    If not, my recap is: I loved this post and I likely fall in the balance character (with a slight leaning toward character driven)!

    • I know how you love your character-driven reads! You always encourage me in that endeavor! Some of them I love (like Hamnet). It helps if the characters are compelling, complex, and fascinating! Thanks for commenting Davida.

  5. Like you I prefer a mix of character and plot. If it’s all character then often I find it’s too introspective and if I don’t engage with the character then reading the book is a slog. But if the book is all plot, then I get irritated

  6. I’m also a mix, but do like character development if it’s not too slow
    A recommendation for you
    We Begin At The End
    Chris Whittaker has both..my book of last year

  7. I like a balance of both character and plot driven stories. If a plot is really interesting then I can forgive the character development. Same vice versa.
    One of my favorite character driven books is The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht.

  8. I’m definitely a more ‘balance’ reader as well and can relate to the examples you listed as I’ve read books from all the lists! I must admit I’d never really broken it down like that but it makes complete sense to me now 🙂 Thanks for joining the linkup Carol.

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