Book Review - Plot versus Character

By Jeff Gerke

I’ve always been a proponent of continuing professional development, regardless of whether I was a computer programmer, a corporate director, or now, a writer. And, of course, I love books. So I look for books that helps me develop my skills. That’s what I found in Jeff Gerke’s Plot versus Character.

I’ve taught both Characterization and Plot at writing conferences, so I don’t consider myself a novice when it comes to either, but I learned some new techniques for both. Gerke begins with an illustration that rang true with me. When Irving Berlin wrote his first song, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, it consisted only of music. No words. And it didn’t strike a chord (pun intended!) with the public. It wasn’t until he added words that the song became a hit. That illustrates Gerke’s point in writing the book – writers can’t focus only on character, or only on plot. It takes both, working hand-in-hand, to create something that will reach readers.

I love approaching characterization by determining a character’s Meyers-Briggs temperament, and then ensuring that every aspect of that character stays true to that temperament. (I’ve been a Meyers-Briggs fan from way back in my early corporate days – I’m an ENFP.) And I gained some new insights about creating a page-turning plot, too.

If you’re interested in writing fiction, this book will stretch your skills and help you improve your craft.