Plot or Character?

Which is more important in fiction: a page-turning plot or deep and compelling characters?

I've always thought it depends on the genre, the audience, and personal taste. However, I've just started reading a book in which the author, Jeff Gerke, argues convincingly that both are equally important but most authors are naturally good at only one.

Moreover, many character-first writers underestimate the need to have a good plot and may even feel that they're selling out if they add too much Hollywood-esque excitement. Plot-first writers may use their characters mostly to advance their fantastic plots, not realizing that their characters come across more like props than actual people. To create truly great fiction, whether it's literary or commercial, a writer needs to master both character and plot. It's got me really thinking about what kind of writer I am: a character writer. So this year my new goal is to work on becoming a great plotter too.

I challenge each of your to analyze what you're best at and focus for a while on the other skill. In future posts, I'll pass on anything particularly useful I learn from this intriguing book: Plot Versus Character; A Balanced Approach to Writing Great Fiction by Jeff Gerke.

Melinda Brasher's most recent sale is a twist on Rumpelstiltskin, appearing in Timeless Tales. You can also find her fiction in Nous, Electric Spec, Intergalactic Medicine Show, and others. For what readers have called "extraordinary character development," read Far-Knowing, her YA fantasy novel. Visit her online at

1 comment:

Karen Cioffi said...

Melinda, very interesting. Thinking about this, I'd say I'm a character writer. Realizing this, I'll have to pay much more attention to plot. Thanks for sharing!

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