- 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: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #641,969 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Plot Versus Character: A Balanced Approach to Writing Great Fiction 0th Edition
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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!
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.
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. I took the test and was amazed at how accurate it was, though it wasn't perfect, and I've heard that most people are a bit of a mix of two or more types. Some of the free online tests will give your percentage breakdown between types.
If you don't want to use that book, Jeff suggests you will need a related character creation system to make full use of it. While Please Understand Me 2 is not geared toward fiction writers, these books he recommends are: Writer's Guide to Character Traits or 45 Master Characters, Revised Edition: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters, both of which I own and are good resources (the first is like a DSM-IV for the layperson). I'll offer two more suggestions: The Complete Writer's Guide to Heroes and Heroines and Fallen Heroes: Sixteen Master Villain Archetypes which show you how the archetypes interact with each other. Because of the reliance on outside material, I'm knocking a star off my rating, but even if you don't buy pick up one of the recommended character creation books, there's still more than enough info in here on everything else to make this a solid, worthwhile purchase. For example, I can't tell you how many books I've read on the 3 Act Structure, and still I managed to get something fresh and new out of this telling that I'm confident will make me a better writer.