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Plot Versus Character: A Balanced Approach to Writing Great Fiction 0th Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 003-5313650352
ISBN-10: 1582979928
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  • Plot Versus Character: A Balanced Approach to Writing Great Fiction
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  • The First 50 Pages: Engage Agents, Editors and Readers, and Set Your Novel Up For Success
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  • Write Your Novel in a Month: How to Complete a First Draft in 30 Days and What to Do Next
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Editorial Reviews

About 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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books (November 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582979928
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582979922
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #619,342 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
Reading this book was like sitting down with a friend - a knowledgeable, enthusiastic (slightly caffeinated) friend - to analyze the reasons why solid stories grow out of compelling characters. Rich with examples and well balanced, Plot vs. Character will be a good investment for new writers and a good read for those experienced souls who still can benefit from that sit-down over coffee. My favorite line: "Don't leave this section until you could give a police artist such an excellent description of this character that it would lead to an arrest."
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Format: Paperback
Aside from the obvious main draw of helping plot-first and character-first writers morph into successful hybrids capable of writing balanced fiction, this book has some of the best descriptions of the three act structure and what makes a great prologue of any how-to book I've read, including easy to understand, step-by-step checklists of what must go in (and what should stay out). Jeff Gerke is easy and fun to read, none of that egghead academic nonsense, just straight up common sense served with a smile. His other book, The First 50 Pages: Engage Agents, Editors and Readers, and Set Your Novel Up For Success is similarly awesome (maybe even more so). It's loaded with brilliant advice and not much overlap with this book. Both his books belong on every fiction writer's shelf, and I'm looking forward to his new one, Write Your Novel in a Month: How to Complete a First Draft in 30 Days and What to Do Next, which is due out in June 2013.

My only criticisms of this book are the terrible, almost nonsensical cover art and its mint green color scheme, and the fact that the author ties his sketched-in character creation system so closely to the more in-depth psychological profiles from another book by a different author, Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence, which relies heavily on the Myers-Briggs model that breaks people down into 16 personality types.
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