Plot versus Character

writingPlot versus Character, by Jeff Gerke

Plot versus Character, by Jeff Gerke, is a must have for every writer’s shelf. This book re-charges writing batteries with creativity, focus, and resonance. Instead of jumping into the argument, he intertwines their potential.

His system integrates plot and character to deepen the quality of your novel, by both building on your strengths and reshaping your weaknesses. It is not formula writing but rather “a construction kit” that builds a solid foundation.

Both the sections on Memorable Characters and Marvelous Plots give excellent advice, examples and perspective that go beyond writing basics for each. Applying the principles under either category will enrich your story.

However the key dynamic in this book is the detailed development of a character’s inner journey. Gerke himself points out that a good novel can be written without this component and still be enjoyable. Yet, how much richer to experience your protagonist’s transformation from the inside out?

Your book is about what your main character decides at her moment of truth. Everything else is just the vehicle to drive her to that penultimate moment.”

It begins with the knot, a problem, or a dysfunction within her character that she has become comfortable with, or is at least coping with. What will be the end result if your character decides to hold onto grief and bitterness? What could be the alternative if he decides to risk living in relationship again? Extrapolate the possibilities. Decide what the effect of each choice will be. Pour the pain on, Gerke says, until the character’s moment of truth. Which direction will he take? Why now?

What elements are needed to produce an effective inciting event to launch your character on their journey? It’s unexpected, it creates a massive change for the hero, and it requires action from the hero. “The inciting event is the harbinger of doom to your hero’s old way of living.”

These are a few brief tidbits of Gerke’s perspective. His suggestions and insights apply to all genres. One word of warning: Plot versus Character will change the way you think about novels. It adds fun to the creative process. And a strong desire to work longer hours on your novel.

“by a CEN member”

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