A story is driven by characters, not plot.
I agree. Many writers and literary experts agree. I’m not so sure it’s always reflected in book popularity, sales, and reviews, though. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.
In her excellent blog post, Millie Ho writes, “When I removed the intricate step-by-step plotting and focused purely on characters (traits, motivations, goals, conflicts), the plot started coming together. The characters had more agency. They allowed themselves to make mistakes. Small details I’d been struggling to link together or use in future chapters suddenly became inconsequential.”
To me, this sounds like the reason pantsing works for some people. Or why authors say their characters literally come to life and change the plot and even themselves. Characters have personalities, motives, and baggage if they are three-dimensional. If your character becomes sentient, his or her traits, emotions, goals, and predicament will help you not only to write a plot, but give it believability and dimension.