Plot and Character

Author Jeff Gerke

So, I’m editing a new project titled Plot Vs. Character by Jeff Gerke, author of the Operation: Firebrand military thriller trilogy. Gerke is a self professed “plot-firster” (a writer whose tendencies lean toward putting the importance of plot before character). Realizing that this was a problem, Gerke set out to improve his understanding of how to create convincing, authentic feeling characters for his elaborate thriller plots- in doing so he came up with a system that he’s set out to share with other writers in his forthcoming book.

In reading the book, I’ve become interested in the idea that many writers have a natural tendency to lean toward characters or plot (or that they’re better at one than the other- sort of like being right-handed or left-handed). Do you find this to be true in your own writing? Take a hard look at your writing process. Do you map out your plot and then switch characters around depending on what role you would have them play? Or do you find yourself examining the psychology of your characters, writing intricate backstories for them, figuring out what makes them tick- then realizing that your story isn’t really going anywhere or that the pacing is slow?

It’s something worth considering. Gerke’s Plot vs. Character will certainly be a great tool in helping you assess your own tendencies. The book is scheduled for October of 2010. In the meantime, I thought I’d share a few other opportunities to explore your plot and character work.

The following online courses are currently available through Writer’s Online Workshops and should help you improve your craft in either of these key areas. Check them out:

Write Great Fiction: Characters, Emotion, and Viewpoint

Write Great Fiction: Plot and Structure

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One Response to “Plot and Character”

  1. Dana Says:

    I found myself in a similar position. I was able to write plot well, but some feedback from readers suggested it was time to start working on characters. For one thing, I had never really “written about myself.” So I started doing that. Then I started writing about people I know. Then I started stealing characters from other authors. All for exercise. Now I am able to blend characteristics from different sources together. It is a satisfying approach.

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