The Importance of Prioritizing Character Development Over Plot – Insights from Cody Smart

As an avid writer and reader, I have always believed that the true essence of a compelling story lies within its characters. While an enthralling plot may initially grab our attention, it is the depth and growth of the characters that truly captivate our hearts and minds. In today’s blog post, I want to share with you my insights on the undeniable importance of prioritizing character development over plot. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of storytelling and discover why the journey of our beloved characters should be the primary focus in any narrative. Let’s explore together the invaluable lessons that can be learned from the experiences of Cody Smart and understand how character development can elevate a story to new heights.

The Importance of Prioritizing Character Development Over Plot – Insights from Cody Smart


Hello, everyone! I’m Cody Smart, an independent writer and script doctor from Chile. With degrees in English Literature & Linguistics, Screenwriting, Development, and Producing, I have extensive experience in the field. Throughout my career, I have worked as a script analyst for Sony and have been a judge for numerous script and film competitions. I take pride in helping writers take their work to the next level and have even written award-winning shorts myself. As the head of the coverage department at a script hosting site, I have had the opportunity to see a vast array of stories.

In today’s article, I want to discuss the importance of prioritizing character development over plot in storytelling. Many writers tend to focus more on plot, but I believe that starting with character is crucial. Character-driven stories create a stronger emotional connection with the audience and can be the driving force behind a compelling narrative.

Why Character Development Matters

  1. Characters Drive the Plot: Without well-developed characters, the plot can feel flat and uninteresting. Strong characters bring life to the story and help guide it in meaningful ways. They become the driving force behind the plot’s progression.

  2. Emotional Connection: Characters that are relatable and well-developed create a stronger emotional connection with the audience. When readers or viewers care about the characters, they become invested in the story and its outcome. This emotional investment can lead to a more powerful and memorable experience.

  3. Character Arcs: A well-crafted character arc is essential for storytelling. Characters who undergo personal growth and transformation throughout the course of the story provide depth and complexity. The journey they embark on can be just as captivating, if not more so, than the overarching plot.

  4. Conflict and Motivation: Characters with strong desires and goals drive conflict. Their motivations and internal struggles shape the narrative and provide opportunities for tension and resolution. By prioritizing character development, writers can ensure that conflicts arise naturally and are motivated by the characters themselves.

  5. Authenticity and Realism: Strong characters rooted in depth and nuance create a sense of authenticity and realism. They feel like real people with complex emotions, flaws, and strengths. This realism adds depth to the story and makes it more engaging for the audience.

The Process of Character Development

Developing rich and compelling characters takes time and attention to detail. Here are some steps to consider when prioritizing character development:

  1. Create Detailed Backgrounds: Dive deep into your characters’ backgrounds, exploring their upbringing, experiences, and past traumas. This will help you better understand their motivations and shape their personalities.

  2. Give Them Personal Goals: Each character should have their own goals and desires, separate from the main plot. These internal desires will provide the foundation for their actions and decisions throughout the story.

  3. Flaws and Vulnerabilities: Characters with flaws and vulnerabilities are more relatable and realistic. Explore their weaknesses and struggles, as these will give them depth and allow for growth.

  4. Relationships: Characters’ relationships with each other can greatly impact the plot. Develop complex dynamics between characters, showcasing how they affect and shape one another.

  5. Dialogue and Voice: Each character should have their own unique voice and way of speaking. This helps differentiate them and adds depth to their personalities.


In conclusion, prioritizing character development over plot in storytelling is crucial. Characters drive the plot, create emotional connections, provide opportunities for character arcs, shape conflicts, and add authenticity to the story. By focusing on developing well-rounded, relatable characters, writers can create narratives that resonate with their audience on a deeper level.

Thank you for joining me today! Remember, character-driven storytelling can lead to more powerful and memorable experiences. For more tips and insights, check out my bi-monthly vlog “Story Data” and explore my additional videos on my YouTube channel. I am also available on my website and various social media platforms to connect and answer any questions you may have.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

  1. How can I prioritize character development over plot in my writing?
  2. Are character-driven stories more important than plot-driven stories?
  3. Can a story be successful without well-developed characters?
  4. What are the benefits of creating relatable characters?
  5. How can I ensure that my characters undergo a meaningful arc throughout the story?

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