Plot Versus Character: A Balanced Approach to Writing Great Fiction

Plot Versus Character: A Balanced Approach to Writing Great Fiction

4.8 15
by Jeff Gerke
     
 

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What's more important to a story: a gripping plot or compelling characters? Literary-minded novelists argue in favor of character-based novels while commercial novelists argue in favor of plot-based stories, but the truth of the matter is this: The best fiction is rich in both.

Enter Plot Versus Character. This hands-on guide to creating a

Overview

What's more important to a story: a gripping plot or compelling characters? Literary-minded novelists argue in favor of character-based novels while commercial novelists argue in favor of plot-based stories, but the truth of the matter is this: The best fiction is rich in both.

Enter Plot Versus Character. This hands-on guide to creating a well-rounded novel embraces both of these crucial story components. You'll learn to:

  • Create layered characters by considering personality traits, natural attributes, and backgrounds
  • Develop your character's emotional journey and tie it to your plot's inciting incident
  • Construct a three-act story structure that can complement and sustain your character arc
  • Expose character backstory in a manner that accentuates plot points
  • Seamlessly intertwine plot and character to create a compelling page-turner filled with characters to whom readers can't help but relate
  • And much more
Filled with helpful examples and friendly instruction, Plot Versus Character takes the guesswork out of creating great fiction by giving you the tools you need to inject life into your characters and momentum into your plots.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781582979922
Publisher:
F+W Media
Publication date:
11/16/2010
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
525,712
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Jeff Gerke is an author of fiction and nonfiction including such books as the Operation: Firebrand novels. He has worked as an editor for numerous publications and is the founder of Marcher Lord Press, an indie publishing company dedicated to producing the finest in Christian science fiction, fantasy, and other wonderfully weird genres. www.marcherlordpress.com and www.wherethemapends.com

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Plot Versus Character: A Balanced Approach to Writing Great Fiction 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
fictionista More than 1 year ago
The basis of "Plot Versus Character" is that writers are either strong character creators or strong plotters. His technique was developed when he (a plotter) decided to write a character-driven series. He starts with how to create characters that readers will connect with, and then moves into building a plot that provides the perfect stage for the characters. I can say without hesitation that "Plot Versus Character" is the best writing how-to book I've ever gotten my hands on. I've learned from all the books that I've read, but this one made everything gel. It was the syrup on the big stack of writing how-to pancakes; it covered everything I already knew, soaked into the cracks, and brought everything together. I feel like I'm finally on the right track.
catburglar More than 1 year ago
Emphasizes plot and character, and how beginning with the inner layers of the main characters, then the outer layers, then the plot, is a good way to lay a foundation for a good story. Reads like a “how to” book: can be read consecutively while crafting one’s story. The writing style of this book is like that of a novel instead of a technical book, which makes most of the reading somewhat tedious. So far, the best book about writing that I have read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought Gerke's book, The First 50 Pages, was one of the best books on writing I've read, and I've read a lot of them. So, when I got into Plot versus Character, I was sorely disappointed. The beginning of the book goes on and on describing the different character types that are consistent with the permutations of the Meyers Briggs personality test. While I thought his interpretations of the test were correct, he didn't do a good job of showing the process a writer should use to determine what personalities a character should have to make your book interesting or fit in with the plot and voice of your writing. I rarely stop reading a book but I stopped reading this one at about page 50. Stick with his awesome (and sometimes funny ) book, the First 50 Pages.
jadijohnson More than 1 year ago
If you write fiction, you need to read this book. It's as simple as that. If you are weak at characterization or plotting (or both), you won't be any longer. Some writing books start out simple but then get confusing as they heap on more and more rules. This book never does that. I was able to easily follow along and apply every lesson to my current writing project. If you're serious about writing, get this book!
tuck229 More than 1 year ago
A lot of fiction writing books are written to sell moreso than to actually make a difference. This book is one of my favorites...msybe even #1. Many books on writing make you think about your writing...this one changes your approach in a significant way.
LindsayAFranklin More than 1 year ago
Jeff Gerke has some serious credentials. He is a multi-published author, Christy Award-winning editor, and founder of Marcher Lord Press, an independent publisher of Christian speculative fiction. He's also a sought-after writing speaker/teacher. I had the pleasure of sitting in one of Jeff's workshops at a writers' conference in 2010. Reading this book, I felt like I now had the detailed companion manual to that class. As Gerke points out late in the book, Plot Versus Character's title is playful. It brings to mind Plot and Character squaring off in their respective corners of the ring (or octagon if you like my favorite sport). Really, the book is more like Plot Loves Character, or Plot and Character: Beloved BFFs Destined to Live Happily Ever After. In it, Jeff explores creating the perfect balance of well-developed characters and exciting, page-turning plot. It is designed to help both character-first novelists (like me) and plot-first novelists in strengthening their weaker area and learning to marry both elements together. Good stuff. What I love about Jeff's nonfiction writing is his sense of humor. His metaphors and illustrations are amusing, his examples are fun, and the books are simply enjoyable to read, aside from being very instructive. He's a great teacher in a classroom setting, and this comes across well in his books. Overall, I'd highly recommend this book for writers. It is put out for the general market, so the information is not specific to Christian authors (for that type of book from Jeff, see The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction, which is also wonderful).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MartaPerry More than 1 year ago
With PLOT VERSUS CHARACTER, A BALANCED APPROACH TO WRITING GREAT FICTION, Jeff Gerke presents an answer to the age-old question of writers: which comes first, character or plot? Whether you love developing complex characters but struggle to find something for them to do, or excel at developing intricate plots, only to find your characters are made of cardboard, you'll find solutions to your problem in Gerke's book. Gerke's entertaining, friendly style, full of concrete examples, will keep you reading, finding insights you can apply to your story on every page. Whatever the level of your writing skill, this excellent book will help you take your writing to the next level. Marta Perry, Murder in Plain Sight, Anna's Return
Jim_Denney More than 1 year ago
It's often said that there are two kinds of writers in the world--but what those two kinds are depends on who you ask. Arthur Koestler said that there are writers whose desks offer a window view and writers who like to face the wall. Clifton Fadiman said that there are writers who give you truths and writers who give you themselves. Most of the writers I know can be divided between those who meticulously outline their novel before they start writing versus those who write "by the seat of the pants," never knowing ahead of time where their story is taking them. Jeff Gerke has put his finger on what may be the most crucial dividing line of all--writers who are good at plotting versus writers who are good at characterization. Few writers of fiction are innately and equally skilled at both plotting and character-creation. Jeff has unpacked all the intricacies of both plot and character, so that we, as writers, can improve the skills we possess and acquire the skills we lack. I consider plots to be my strong suit. I have to focus more consciously and deliberately on creating believable characters. So I appreciate Jeff's layered treatment of the task of character creation. This book serves as a checklist of the tasks you must perform in order to create a character who lives and breathes in the imagination of your reader: Do I know my character's temperament? Is she likable? Have I tied my character's "knot"? If you have completed all the tasks Jeff lays out, your character will be real to you, and to your readers. Jeff's treatment of plot is equally thorough and practical. He's an experienced writing teacher (I sat in on one of his workshops a few years ago), and he writes the same way he talks--in a conversational, relaxed style. As a writer, editor, and teacher, he's one of the best. Whatever your strengths and weaknesses as a fiction writer, Jeff gives you the tools to become more balanced and complete, so that you can achieve your goals as a novelist. Highly recommended!
TrishPerryNovelist More than 1 year ago
I don't care whether you're a beginning storyteller or you have multiple published novels to your name, your writing will be tighter after reading Jeff Gerke's Plot versus Character. And I would recommend reading it more than once. As Gerke points out, most novelists lean in one direction or the other, and you don't have to be writing long before you can tell whether your writing is plot driven or character driven. In my opinion you can often tell by the types of novels you read. Partial to thrillers and other fast-paced action? Then you probably aren't excited about the idea of fleshing out your own book's characters until they nearly walk off the page. Partial to sharp dialogue between fascinating people? Then you've probably been told you need to add "conflict" to your plot. Or plot to your plot. Gerke has had enough experience in the publishing industry to know most writers struggle to simultaneously provide riveting plot and compelling, believable, characters. So he shows how to strengthen your skills in both regards and then blend them together. I can't wait to apply this book to my next manuscript. Highly recommended to novelists and anyone even considering writing a novel.
jennyhrh More than 1 year ago
Gerke has written a winner. Whether you are a plot-driven or character-driven writer, this book has something for you. (I'm still waiting for the book for the procrastination-driven writer.) Written in an enjoyable conversational style, it's like the author is sitting down at Starbucks having a one-on-one consultation with you about your work. I enjoyed being able to go straight to the chapters that addressed my specific weakness areas. If you're looking to be a more well-rounded author, this is the book for you.
OregonAuthor More than 1 year ago
If, as a writer, you've found yourself with an exciting plot populated with plastic characters, or, conversely, fascinating characters wandering around in a ho-hum plot, this is the book for you. Jeff Gerke will help you create memorable characters by building layers around a core personality. He'll show you how to use a three-act structure to build from an inciting incident to an indelible conclusion. And he'll show you how to meld them together into a story that is uniquely your own.
RonieKendig More than 1 year ago
Plot vs Character by Gerke is a handy book for both the plot-first author and the character-first author. The book is meaty and thought-provoking, guiding writers through developing both the character and the plot of your story. Gerke teaches at conferences around the U.S. and years ago, he helped me in my own writing, specifically learning the "three act structure," which he covers in-depth in this book as well. This is a very well-rounded book to help any author at any stage cement the foundation of their stories and characters.
DeAnnaJulieDodson More than 1 year ago
Plot and character, like the chicken and the egg, cannot exist without each other. Jeff Gerke's Plot Versus Character helps writers find the optimum balance between the two, and it does it with easy to understand explanations and examples that are easy to apply. For beginning and experienced writers who want to turn their stories up a notch, this is a must have.