Monday, September 5, 2011

Plot and Character Development

Some writers can generate plot ideas all day. Others excel at developing wonderful, well rounded characters that you love spending time with.  Despite plot problems with the second Judgment book that took what seemed like forever to correct, I am the kind of writer who is much stronger at generating plot ideas than character development. My stories tend to rip readers through events non-stop, but it takes revision after revision to bring my characters to life.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a recommendation for a book called Plot Versus Character by Jeff Gerke. He talks about how writers tend to be naturally stronger at one or the other but not both. Then he goes about explaining his system for strengthening whichever you are weak at. I loved this book as soon as I started reading. I have not finished it yet because it immediately sent me off to track down two additional books. One is called Please Understand Me II by David Keirsey. The other is called 45 Master Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt. I have spent quite a bit of time with these two books in the last week. Both are fantastic and both give loads of information to develop realistic characters.

I’ve been using 45 Master Characters as a gage against my lead couples in Blood Judgment and Dark Judgment. I was thrilled to discover how close I had all four characters to what is described in this book both for character traits and putting characters together to interact. I’ve even used it on secondary characters in those books.

I would highly recommend all three of these books to any writer, even ones who are already strong at character development but especially to those who aren’t. I can’t wait to read the rest of Jeff Gerke’s book and apply his whole system. I have gained so much from just the first couple of chapters that I’m betting the rest of the book contains gold.

What’s your strength, plot or character development? What have you done to strengthen your weak point? Any good books you would recommend?


  1. Thanks for the book suggestins, Nickie. Ideas I have aplenty. But if I think hard, well-rounded characters that readers bond to is probably my weak spot.

  2. I love that Jeff Gerke book--it has the most comprehensive set of character questions I've ever seen! I'm definitely a plot-first writer, and I struggle with my characters. I'll have to check out those other two books.

  3. I'm fairly strong in the character area (in terms of folks wanting to settle in with them- I'd say I could work on making them "deeper"), but my plots need work! I feel like I am constantly reining them in (a pantser problem perhaps?).