Plot Versus Character by Jeff Gerke is quite the helpful tool. A number of writers have said that an author needs to know everything about their characters even though they only reveal a tiny bit to their readers. This book excels in the character development department. Gerke’s approach to developing deep and complex characters make a lot of sense.
His book takes you through bit by bit on adding layers and depth to your characters. By the time you reach the second part (on plot) the character you created will feel quite real. Not only will you know things about them, but you will know why they are the way they are. Knowing these kinds of facts about your characters can help your plot out. You will know how they act in the situations they find themselves in.
I personally did not find the plot side of this book quite as helpful. In fact, that section of the book felt pretty basic compared the character half. Gerke explains a basic three act structure and gives some pointers on how to go about it. This just seemed pretty bare bones in my opinion.
This is a book that I will consistently use as a tool to help me develop my characters. It does help to have some idea of who you are working with and a bit of their background, but you can fill in some of those things as you move along through it though. For myself, I have also developed my own character template based on this book that allows me to just fill things in. I’m making a few modifications to it to make it a bit more friendly as a reference tool though.
My last suggestion for characters that this book has also helped me to discover is to use personality tests on them. The insight a writer can receive from doing this is pretty invaluable. You could make sure that your character really is an extrovert or an introvert and other such things. Look around online. There are numerous tests and quizzes, some professional, personal, or entertaining. You can even do multiple ones. Again, this is something that might help you figure out an arc for your character as well.
This book is on my writing bookshelf and has a cozy home there. I have found it helpful when I am planning on a novel, and it is one that is definitely worth sharing.