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Creating Characters: The Complete Guide to Populating Your Fiction

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Create characters that leap off the page--and into readers' hearts! Populating your fiction with authentic, vivid characters is a surefire way to captivate your readers from the first sentence to the last. Whether you're writing a series, novel, short story, or flash fiction, Creating Characters is an invaluable guide to bringing your fictional cast to life. This book is a Create characters that leap off the page--and into readers' hearts! Populating your fiction with authentic, vivid characters is a surefire way to captivate your readers from the first sentence to the last. Whether you're writing a series, novel, short story, or flash fiction, Creating Characters is an invaluable guide to bringing your fictional cast to life. This book is a comprehensive reference to every stage of character development. You'll find timely advice and helpful instruction from best-selling authors like Nancy Kress, Elizabeth Sims, Orson Scott Card, Chuck Wendig, Hallie Ephron, Donald Maass, and James Scott Bell. They'll show you how to: Effectively introduce your characters Build a believable protagonist Develop strong anti-heroes and compelling villains Juggle multiple points of view without missing a beat Craft authentic dialogue that propels the story forward Motivate your characters with powerful objectives and a believable conflict Show dynamic character development over the course of a story No matter what your genre, Creating Characters gives you the tools necessary to create realistic, fascinating characters that your readers will root for and remember long after they've finished the story.


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Create characters that leap off the page--and into readers' hearts! Populating your fiction with authentic, vivid characters is a surefire way to captivate your readers from the first sentence to the last. Whether you're writing a series, novel, short story, or flash fiction, Creating Characters is an invaluable guide to bringing your fictional cast to life. This book is a Create characters that leap off the page--and into readers' hearts! Populating your fiction with authentic, vivid characters is a surefire way to captivate your readers from the first sentence to the last. Whether you're writing a series, novel, short story, or flash fiction, Creating Characters is an invaluable guide to bringing your fictional cast to life. This book is a comprehensive reference to every stage of character development. You'll find timely advice and helpful instruction from best-selling authors like Nancy Kress, Elizabeth Sims, Orson Scott Card, Chuck Wendig, Hallie Ephron, Donald Maass, and James Scott Bell. They'll show you how to: Effectively introduce your characters Build a believable protagonist Develop strong anti-heroes and compelling villains Juggle multiple points of view without missing a beat Craft authentic dialogue that propels the story forward Motivate your characters with powerful objectives and a believable conflict Show dynamic character development over the course of a story No matter what your genre, Creating Characters gives you the tools necessary to create realistic, fascinating characters that your readers will root for and remember long after they've finished the story.

30 review for Creating Characters: The Complete Guide to Populating Your Fiction

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paula Cappa

    What I liked best about this writing craft book is the variety of approaches to character development. This is not just one teacher’s view, nor one way to build your characters. We have over 20 authors’ advice. Screenwriter and novelist Chuck Wendig gives you “25 Things You Should Know about Character.” How the character is your vehicle through the plot, finding the 3 beats for your character, finding the darkness inside, and more. Novelist Joseph Bates discusses how external motivation and inte What I liked best about this writing craft book is the variety of approaches to character development. This is not just one teacher’s view, nor one way to build your characters. We have over 20 authors’ advice. Screenwriter and novelist Chuck Wendig gives you “25 Things You Should Know about Character.” How the character is your vehicle through the plot, finding the 3 beats for your character, finding the darkness inside, and more. Novelist Joseph Bates discusses how external motivation and internal motivation achieves the conflict for suspense. James Scott Bell, best-selling suspense writer has got you covered on how to “Relate to Readers with a Lead Character.” How do you build sympathy for your character? There are 4 ways. How do you hook the reader on the first page? What are the rules for successful exposition? Bell has 3 you need to know and “do the iceberg” is one of them. I really loved this–so clear! What about character arc? Oh this one has 4 veteran authors showing you the path: Joseph Bates, James Scott Bell, Jeff Gerke, Jack Smith. Everything from creating the character arc, to the arc within plot, to that critical moment of truth, and how to rethink the characterization using the direct method and the indirect method. Award-winning author and novelist David Corbett will show you how to “Push Your Character to the Limits.” His pages on the role of contradictions is five-star: Jungian psychology, the Shadow, and subtext. If you're a writer in need of help with learning everything you can about developing characters, this is a good one.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ashley • mommareads2me

    I felt this book was very helpful so much so I decided to buy a copy and return the library copy I borrowed. The viewpoints and helpful points from multiple writers was refreshing and though it did feel a bit repetitive it was nice to get fresh takes. I think this is a helpful read if you have written a book fully through and are wanting to expand it and or write something new and fresh. After reading this I feel like I understand what I need to fix and what I could do better on my first book an I felt this book was very helpful so much so I decided to buy a copy and return the library copy I borrowed. The viewpoints and helpful points from multiple writers was refreshing and though it did feel a bit repetitive it was nice to get fresh takes. I think this is a helpful read if you have written a book fully through and are wanting to expand it and or write something new and fresh. After reading this I feel like I understand what I need to fix and what I could do better on my first book and future ones.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Emily Irish

    Good basic guidance on character creation... not as in depth as I was hoping, but a lot of good coverage on various topics, and a good resource for writers to have on hand.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sonja

    This book had a lot of good, useful information.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Debra Daniels-zeller

    This was one writing book I couldn't wait to dive into because some of my favorite writers were included. Divided into sections: getting started, point of view, dialogue, protagonists, antagonists, supporting characters, conflict, motivations and relationships and character arcs, each sections has essays by various writing experts. And with so many experts weighing in, each chapter is a gem of tips and information. Some of my favorites include: Chuck Wendig's 25 Things You Should Know About Char This was one writing book I couldn't wait to dive into because some of my favorite writers were included. Divided into sections: getting started, point of view, dialogue, protagonists, antagonists, supporting characters, conflict, motivations and relationships and character arcs, each sections has essays by various writing experts. And with so many experts weighing in, each chapter is a gem of tips and information. Some of my favorites include: Chuck Wendig's 25 Things You Should Know About Character, Gloria Kemptom's Dialogue that Propells the Story Forward, Orson Scott Card's The Hero and the Common Man, and Victoria Lynn Schmidt's Romantic Relationships. This is a book I can turn to again and again for inspiration.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gene Turchin

    I was hoping for more concrete help with the idea of creating characters. Most of the book is very generalized in the way it attacks a character build. There are a few lines here and there, possibly one per chapter where I nodded and said, that's useful. It could use more examples. It didn't have enough (my opinion only) on giving characters a unique voice. I rated it 4-starts because it's not bad. Just not great.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Perkins

    To bad I have to have such high standards in my rating. But it's a book about writing, by a writer and for writers. I hoped to glean more practical steps for how to create better characters. The book focused on reiterating what I already know; that creating characters is important and why it's important.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Holly Davis

    A must-read for any author in crafting characters with depth, character arcs, conflict, motivation, as well as choosing the right name, POV, and theme for your novel. This will be a keeper on my shelf and I'll be referring to it often. Can't wait to check out the other writing advice books by the editors of Writer's Digest.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mandi Connell

    There were some really good essays in here that I’ll be going back to, but there were some others that felt very condescending? Maybe it’s just me haha but there were a few times it felt like I was being talked down to. Of course I’m not a professional writer, but I think there’s a way to teach people and share what you know about writing without being condescending.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sonia Bellhouse

    If you are struggling with creating characters - this book hold a wealth of information from diverse writers. It a book that is easy to dip in and out of ,reading the articles that are pertinent to the character you are creating. A useful book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    A.T. Twaddle

    The combination of varying viewpoints yet succinct themes and repeated advice from many (very reputable) sources make this a must have for any writer, new or seasoned. The number of ideas this book sparked or fleshed out for my current WIP is incredible! Will reference often as I continue to work.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Zizeek

    There were some good ideas, but some chapters were skippable. By the end there was too much repetition, and it became tedious. Chuck Wendig's chapter was my favorite and that was at the beginning, so the rest of the book was a let down comparison.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jason Henry

    I really enjoyed this book and my understanding of how to write good characters has certainly benefited from it. Each chapter is written by a different author and I found myself especially enjoying the ones by Card, Bates, Bell, and Kress. Glad I picked it up!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Cahhal

    The essentials Great book that pulls in advice from all the experts on characters. Also gives you a good sample of other authors approach to teaching the craft.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jane Nash

    excellent resource for writers - the best for characters - (and I've bought a lot)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Thecritic

    A great collection of essays about creating characters.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen Turonek

    As with all essay/advice books with multiple contributors, take what works for you and leave what doesn't. I found good, bad, and ugly here, and you might, too.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jade Ashli Soisson-Thayer

    This is one of my favorite reference books. It's got a lot of helpful insights even though I was aware of most of the topics it covered. I'll most likely come back to it for refreshing in the future.

  19. 4 out of 5

    123theone

    This book is excellent not only for authors that need help with their characters, but also those that have trouble with plot. The book teaches you first the basics of how to craft your character and introduce them to the story, then how to choose a good POV character and how to write good dialogue. It continues with specifics about writing antagonists and supporting characters. But the real meat of the book was in the sections Conflict and Character Arc. These two sections go deeper into what yo This book is excellent not only for authors that need help with their characters, but also those that have trouble with plot. The book teaches you first the basics of how to craft your character and introduce them to the story, then how to choose a good POV character and how to write good dialogue. It continues with specifics about writing antagonists and supporting characters. But the real meat of the book was in the sections Conflict and Character Arc. These two sections go deeper into what you should know about your character, and help you create plot with that. It teaches you how the character affects plot, and how to create the perfect obstacle, antagonists and supporting characters to block your protagonist or get them to their goal. These two chapters were the real gems, teaching you how plot relates to character and character relates to plot, how to craft the perfect character for your plot and the perfect plot for your character. The only bad thing I would say is that it got a little bit repetitive. The chapters are all from other books or articles, so the authors sometimes cover the same topics. The real disappointing part of the book was the section Motivations and Relationships. The Motivations part was just a repeat of the Conflict section and the chapter on relationships was not only unhelpful, but also offensive to certain LGBTA+ groups. All around though, the book was great and I'd recommend it to any writer!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sydney

    This is a book of excerpts and other short pieces covering (obviously) various aspects of characterization. The presentation of the information is straightforward, and the contributing authors clearly know their stuff. I deducted two stars from my rating because an experienced writer or anyone who engages in literary analysis will have already realized virtually everything contained in this book. It can still be a useful (though limited) tool for those people, though, because it is a condensed v This is a book of excerpts and other short pieces covering (obviously) various aspects of characterization. The presentation of the information is straightforward, and the contributing authors clearly know their stuff. I deducted two stars from my rating because an experienced writer or anyone who engages in literary analysis will have already realized virtually everything contained in this book. It can still be a useful (though limited) tool for those people, though, because it is a condensed version of what they already know that they can thumb through to help focus on specifics. Some of the subjects (such as choosing a name wisely) are general and shallow enough to warrant no more than a skim through the included pages. Articles by Jessica Page Morrell, Jordan E. Rosenfeld, James Scott Bell and Mary Cole are among the standouts. While I don't regret reading this book, I found very little of use to me. If you are completely wet behind the ears when it comes to writing, it's a good place to start learning how to think about characterization. If you have a certain comfort level with character creation and want to go deeper, though, this book will probably not help you plumb your depths.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Teri-K

    The articles in this book are all reprints, mostly from other Writer's Digest books. You'd have to read 17 other books, if I counted right, to get most of what's in here, though. And the editors did a good job choosing the excerpts, there are only a couple I felt shouldn't have been included. So if you're a writer and wanting help with characterization, this might be a good place to start. You'll get helpful suggestions and perhaps find a few writers who helped you so much you want to check thei The articles in this book are all reprints, mostly from other Writer's Digest books. You'd have to read 17 other books, if I counted right, to get most of what's in here, though. And the editors did a good job choosing the excerpts, there are only a couple I felt shouldn't have been included. So if you're a writer and wanting help with characterization, this might be a good place to start. You'll get helpful suggestions and perhaps find a few writers who helped you so much you want to check their other books on writing.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    There are great pieces of advice here, but too many of the chapters are repetitive or simplistic. I'll probably thumb through some of the better chapters again at some point; I just don't know if I'd recommend this one over a single-author character book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Julie theriault

    a very good book on writing characters

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Lynn

  25. 4 out of 5

    Brian Weisfeld

  26. 5 out of 5

    Shabier Hussain

  27. 5 out of 5

    Leza O'Dowd

  28. 4 out of 5

    Abigail

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jasmin

  30. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

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