I recently finished reading the book Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen. I would recommend any of his books as they are the type to keep me reading after I should have gone to bed. A big part of why his books are so good is the characters he comes up with. The main protagonist is interesting and easy to get invested in, but the rest of the characters wander off the page in their own unique way. I’m not sure Hiaasen’s writing technique, but my own is to take a character and let them tell their story through me. I do not control my characters and when I try they do not cooperate. It is their story and I just get to hear it first.
Having a plot is useless to me unless it comes with the character to tell me the story. Settings are interesting, but there has to be someone there to stand out or I can’t write the story. This is probably why I need to work on writing description, because the character sees it every day and already knows what things look like.
Whether in books or in life, most of us are drawn to people with character. We like the people who are contradictions and stand out in the crowd. So, if you have great setting and a wonderful plot, you better have a character to navigate those or you are going to lose readers. And the story moves along much better when the writer listens to the character rather than a character who listens to the writer.