Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Jeff Gerke takes the Guess Work Out of Novel Writing

The Barn Door Book Loft. Free Books! Book Giveaways.

Guest post by Jennifer Slattery

A while back, I read a book filled with outer conflict and a very strong story line, but it never quite grabbed me. I wondered why. The novel appeared to have all the elements necessary for a great story, yet somehow my emotions stayed on the surface level. I realized what was missing was character depth. Similarly, I've read stories with authentic, dynamic characters that do absolutely nothing. And when characters do nothing, I do nothing but toss the book aside. Jeff Gerke's latest book,"Plot Versus Character," reminds us how important it is to craft a balanced story.

You're here to learn from Jeff, so I won't waste your time by attempting to paraphrase what he so clearly explains. In his own words:

Over the years I have become convinced that there are two kinds of novelists: those who come up with characters very easily and those who come up with plot ideas easily. And whichever of the two you're naturally good at, you're probably naturally terrible at the other thing.

I'm what I call a plot-first novelist. Those of us who are like this--and most plot-firsters are male, though it's not at all a clear division along gender lines--come up with amazing story ideas all day long. Very exciting stuff. But our characters tend to be flat, unrealistic, and stereotypical. Think Rambo.

Character-first novelists--most of whom are female, though there are many exceptions--come up with characters naturally. These writers create astonishingly wonderful story people and sparkling dialogue, but typically, their stories are boring. They struggle to find anything interesting for these interesting people to do. Their stories often have little suspense and less resolution.

I worked a long time to develop that part of my writing that was weak. When I figured out a system to create realistic, differentiated characters, I thought the system might help other plot-first novelists. So I created an e-book called "Character Creation for the Plot-First Novelist." Later, I realized I could help character-firsters create wonderful plots. So I created another e-book called "How To Find Your Story." Then I began teaching the whole integrated system at writers conferences.

This craft book from Writers Digest is the whole system, expanded and elaborated and detailed, in book form. Whether you're a plot-firster or a character-firster, you'll benefit from the book.

Sometimes people actually get more from the portions talking about what they're already strong at. My friend Randall Ingermanson said he expected to learn the most about plots because he's a character-first novelist. But he actually learned more about characters--because he'd never put any thought into how he created something he was naturally good at.

Jeff, thank you for sharing so much invaluable information. Clearly, this book is a phenomenal, must have, resource.

Join us tomorrow as Jeff talks about character and plot development in more detail.

Order your copy of Plot Versus Character now!

Jeff is giving away a copy of "Plot Versus Character." To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway multiple times--once on each day's spotlight post.

Jeff Gerke 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.

Guest post by Jennifer Slattery


Anonymous said...

I'd like to win this book!

Phee Paradise said...

I'm definitely a character first writer. I need this book.

Joanne Sher said...

This looks like a FABULOUS book. I'd love it. So much to learn!

April W Gardner said...

I totally need this book. I'm the odd female that creates plots but struggles with characters. Jeff's e-book "Character Creation for the Plot-First Novelist" sound like something I could use too. I'm off to see where it's available for purchase. Great post!! Looking forward to tomorrow.

Julie Arduini said...

I'm definitely the female that is character centered. I've been trying to "bulk up" on that knowing my plot side is so weak. This book gives me hope and I'm interested!

Catrina Bradley... said...

Ok, I'm now following you all over cyberspace - more chances to win! Plus, I love this blog. :)

Mara said...

This has been on my wish list!

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

okay...i've already been scoping this book out on Google books. i'll stalk jeff at this blog all week for a chance to get it. this character-first novelist needs sound plotting advice. of course, if the book is any bit as good as his How To Find Your Story...i'm going to end up with a copy of this book somehow. :)

Thanks for the spotlight!
the character therapist

Liz Johnson said...

Oh, I think I need this book! I feel like my characters often don't go nearly as deep as I'd like them, too. They rarely do unexpected things because they're just motivated by one thing.

Thanks for the opportunity!

Liz Johnson said...

Oh, I think I need this book! I feel like my characters often don't go nearly as deep as I'd like them, too. They rarely do unexpected things because they're just motivated by one thing.

Thanks for the opportunity!

Julie B. said...

Interesting! I tend to be character-first, but sometimes I wonder if an author can be both at different times. My current work-in-progress is more plot-driven, and my main character is pretty weak, and critiquers have noted that sometimes their actions seem to just serve the plot. Lots to think about.

Ruth Ann Dell said...

Thank you for the terrific post, Jennifer.

I'm a character first writer. The more I read about Jeff's book the more I like the sound of it.

Please enter me in the draw.

Many thanks

Ruth Ann

PatriciaW said...

Sometimes I think character first, other times, plot. But if I had to choose where I'm weakest, it would definitely be plot. That's the area where I'm always on a hunt for the magic elixir.

Meredith said...

I'd like to win this to help with my writing!

meredithfl at gmail dot com

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