Sunday, March 31, 2013

Plot Versus Character by Jeff Gerke

We here at Books to Write by are excited to introduce to our readers a guest blogger posting today. She has an amazing book to share with you. However, before we get to the review, let's meet her...

Karin Beery is a freelance writer, editor, and writing coach. With over 300 articles published, her work also blogs, novels, guide books, and more. An active member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association, Christian Proofreaders and Editors Network (PEN), and the Evangelical Press Association, Karin enjoys writing and editing in all forms, as well as helping others achieve their writing goals. Karin lives in northern Michigan with her husband, aunt, and two cats.

Plot Versus Character: A Balanced Approach to Writing Great Fiction by Jeff Gerke


What’s more important to a story: a gripping plot or compelling characters? The best fiction is rich in both. This hands-on guide to creating a well-rounded novel embraces both of these crucial story components. 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 plot. (from the back cover)

 A follow-up to his first craft book, The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction, this book is exactly as the title suggests – a look at crafting deep, believable characters and attention-holding plots. 

In Plot Versus Character, Gerke begins by identifying novelists as one of two types: character-focused and plot-focused writers. By focusing on one aspect and ignoring the other, however, writers often end up with one of two stories: rich, interesting characters who do nothing, or stereotypical, shallow characters saving the world.  Though he encourages readers to know which type of writer they are, Gerke’s book discusses both sides and is mapped out to take a writer through the entire process – from character development to the denouement – in order to create a well-rounded novel.

The first section of the book – Memorable Characters – walks you through character development. Gerke starts with Core Personality and Physical Attributes, digs into the character psyche to find The Knot (core issue/struggle), and takes you right to The Final State. It’s more than just knowing whether or not your hero is an introvert. Gerke looks at the complete inner workings of your characters. He shows you the steps to take to find out every little cog that makes them tick. By the time you finish, you’ll know your characters better than you know your spouse.

The second section – Marvelous Plots – looks at the external components of the story: the plot. Using a traditional Three Act layout, Gerke takes the information from section one and shows you how to weave your Memorable Characters into the Marvelous Plots. He shows, using numerous examples from books and movies, how characters and plot work together, complimenting each other to tell a captivating story.

Plot Versus Character is easy to read and hard to put down. I kept a notepad beside me, writing down ideas and concerns that I have for my current work-in-progress. This is not a beginner’s craft book. Gerke doesn’t discuss Point-Of-View or Show vs. Tell. This book is more for the writer working on the story, as opposed to the writer working on the writing. He digs deeper and challenges his readers to not just write stories about people, but to write gripping stories about realistic people. A must-read for any novelist. I’ll be reading it again soon.

For more information about Karin Beery, please contact her at:


  1. I have read this book and found very helpful. After reading it, I discovered that I am a character first writer that helped me realize the need to study plots. Thank you for sharing your review!

  2. Oh, wow, Karin, we're so glad to have you visit us here on bookstowriteby. I've read Gerke's books before & must get this one. I thought I had it but can't find it, so I guess that's a "no." Ah, the old plots vs characters theme. Can we do without either? I love to write good characters, but alas, I must remember plot.... I guess I better get this book quickly.

  3. I have the book on my shelf, but I haven't read it yet. It sounds like I need to fit it into my schedule.


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