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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2014
After reading several books on the craft of novel writing, I wrote my first book. I only wish I had read this book before completing my own work of fiction. It offered me better advice than of any of the rest. Whereas some of the subject matter will be "old hat" to the seasoned writer, I found it to be very helpful. New writers, read this one first!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2015
As a first-time novel writer who studied lit theory instead of creative writing in school, this book has been a really digestible, actionable way to learn the basics. Highly recommended for anyone who has a good idea unfolding on paper but wants to make sure they attain the level of complexity and polish required for a truly solid finished product.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2013
Ms. Kress adeptly shows how to "flesh out" your character using emotion and point of view. This text has sections for each of the genres and sub-genres, and readers will gain even more by a brief study of each rather than focusing on just his/her particular genre.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2013
I purchased all four books in this series and I'm learning a great deal from them. Solid instruction and good quotes from literary selections to illustrate each point. Characters, Emotion, and Viewpoint was my favorite along with Description & Settings
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on September 22, 2011
Character, Emotion, and Viewpoint was actually a pretty good book on just those factors. This is part of the Write Great Fiction series, which I've liked fairly well before. While I did not like this as well as Description and Setting, I suspect that this had more to do with that I suck at description, while I'm reasonable with characters, so arguably have less to learn. All the same, I think that Kress did a wonderful job explaining how to portray characters well in prose. Which, incidentally, is pretty tricky. Creating a good character may be easy, but showing them in a way that the reader actually understands your character can be close to impossible.)

For instance, she goes into when to use exposition (rarely) in prose describing characters:

"Guinevere's central tragedy was that she was childless...but she was the one who was left an empty vessel, a shore without a sea. This was what broke her when she came to the age at which her sea must finally dry...It may be one of the explanations of her double love - perhaps she loved Arthur as a father, and Lancelot because of the son she could not have.

"Before this passage, which occurs three-quarters of the way through the book, we have seen dramatized many of the events White is now theorizing about...Thus we're not listening to White's exposition in a vacuum. We have enough dramatized information to both understand and evaluate his ideas."

There's a lot of nuance to this explanation. It isn't "exposition is bad", it's "it's generally bad, but here's where it was done well and why it works." And it's that kind of nuance that shows in creating decent characters, rather than clichés.

Other sections are handled with similar nuance. Kress breaks down different POVs and explains, "First person is inherently an artificial POV because no one recounts long, complicated, or perfectly edited stories, with full dialogue, as if the narrator does not know what happens next...The strength of first person is the voice of your narrator; make yours reflect his personality not only in what he says but how he says it...Unreliable first-person narrators can create great drama as readers discover the gap between what the narrator says and what story events indicate."

In addition, Kress goes into different versions of distance in 3rd person POV, from close limited to omniscient. For instance, she explains that a highly distant narrator might work best when "Your character is unlikable, very complicated, or so different from most people that you will need to include much exposition. You prefer a standard, even formal writing style...You want the freedom to describe characters and scenes from the outside without filtering...Your prose is interesting enough to compensate for the greater distance." All useful advice.
In addition, she seems remarkably realistic about the publishing world. In a comment about how much prose really matters, she notes, "If any - or all of these - capture public interest in your book, the truth is that it doesn't matter if your prose is rough. This may be a disheartening truth, but truth it is." I appreciate an author realistic enough to note that writing style is important, but ultimately probably is not the primary factor in determining whether a book is commercially successful.

All in all, while this probably is not the best book out there discussing characters and POV, it's solid and offers quite a bit of good advice for most readers. I'd definitely recommend it, especially if you can find it inexpensively.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2015
The earlier in one's writing career this book is read, the more enjoyable it will be. While I was able to find some useful tidbits, most of this book focused on that which I already knew. This reference guide is written in textbook style.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
As usual, these books are wonderful for beginning writers, and make excellent reference guides to refer back to, when you are in need of constructing a character's emotions and viewpoints.
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As an award-winning author, Nancy Kress has written an absolutely brilliant book on character development in "Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint". Winner of 3 Hugos (congrats! I'm a long-time Asimov/Heinlein/Clarke sci fi fan as well, myself), Nancy's penned the single best book on the mechanics of character development in storytelling I've ever read in my life.

She's a wonderful author as well -- just reading this book showed me a lot about how an accurate, successful "master of the craft" communicates with the written word. It's definitely a book I as an avid reader (and author myself, of technical trading articles) wish I'd been able to read 20+ years ago, because she carefully dissects the science of character and story arcs, how to position character references correctly in stories, and all the nuances to create memorable (vs hack) characters.

This is a really finely-authored book, one of the very best I've read, by an award-winning writer. Thanks, Nancy - for providing both a role model and a complete "writer's workshop in a book" here for those of us who are always learning how to improve our writing skills.

Very insightful and well-written, this is a superb book for not only all fellow authors, but those of us who are avid readers as well. Super workmanship on this... well done!

-Ken
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2014
It is a good book for first time authors especially when one has gone throught the first manuscript. It certainly gave me ideas I had never thought about.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2014
An aspiring writer I am, and this book, short of taking an actual class, is the best. Now I need to find an agent..
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