Plot Versus Character

A balanced approach to writing great fiction.
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Plot Versus Character
A Balanced Approach to Writing Great Fiction
by Jeff Gerke
Writer's Digest Books, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-58297-992-2
$17.99, paperback, 272 pages

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Read an excerpt

Author Jeff Gerke discusses conflict in this excerpt from Plot Versus Character.

Read an author interview
Jeff Gerke discusses writing and publishing advice, how studying movies can help you understand storytelling structure, and more in this interview.

About the book
Plot or character? A long-time sticking point for novelists. Yet, while literary novelists argue in favor of character-based novels and commercial novelists argue in favor of plot-based stories, the best fiction is rich in both plot and character.

In this exciting new book, author and writing instructor Jeff Gerke shows you how to create realistic characters, assemble a solid three-act story structure, and seamlessly intertwine both to create a compelling page-turner filled with characters to whom readers can’t help but relate.

You'll learn how to create layered characters, develop a character’s emotional journey and tie it to the plot’s inciting incident, construct a three-act story structure that can complement and sustain a character arc, reveal character backstory to accentuate plot points, and much more.

About the author
Jeff Gerke ( and 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.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Does It Really Matter?
PART I Memorable Characters
Chapter 2 Core Personality
Chapter 3 Physical and Natural Attributes
Chapter 4 Major Events, Likability, Perceptions, and Speech
Chapter 5 Overview of the Inner Journey
Chapter 6 The Knot
Chapter 7 The Moment of Truth
Chapter 8 Initial Condition
Chapter 9 The Inciting Incident
Chapter 10 The Escalation
Chapter 11 The Final State
PART II Marvelous Plots
Chapter 12 The Stew
Chapter 13 Of Prologues and Introductions
Chapter 14 Understanding Three-Act Structure
Chapter 15 Act 2: The Heart of the Matter
Chapter 16 Act 1: Introductions
Chapter 17 Act 3: Climax and Dénouement
PART III Plot and character: together at last
Chapter 18 Integrating Plot and Character

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