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Characters & Viewpoint (Elements of Fiction Writing)

4.5 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1599632124
ISBN-10: 1599632128
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Product Details

  • Series: Elements of Fiction Writing
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books (1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599632128
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599632124
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,568 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Orson Scott Card is the bestselling author best known for the classic Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow and other novels in the Ender universe. Most recently, he was awarded the 2008 Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in Young Adult literature, from the American Library Association. Card has written sixty-one books, assorted plays, comics, and essays and newspaper columns. His work has won multiple awards, including back-to-back wins of the Hugo and the Nebula Awards-the only author to have done so in consecutive years. His titles have also landed on 'best of' lists and been adopted by cities, universities and libraries for reading programs. The Ender novels have inspired a Marvel Comics series, a forthcoming video game from Chair Entertainment, and pre-production on a film version. A highly anticipated The Authorized Ender Companion, written by Jake Black, is also forthcoming.Card offers writing workshops from time to time and occasionally teaches writing and literature at universities.Orson Scott Card currently lives with his family in Greensboro, NC.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In "Characters and Viewpoints" Orson Scott Card provides the writer with the tools for constructing colorful credible characters.

Card grabbed my attention as I scanned the table of contents. I immediately followed this by perusing the bold headings within the chapters. After reading the book I find it an important resource in my collection of books for the writer.

The book is divided into three parts. Card begins with pointers on inventing characters, where they come from, potential audience, and choosing names.
He moves on to help the reader/writer construct characters, including the protagonist, supporting, and minor characters. I particularly needed help in the area of voice, presentation, and person. Card included illustrations from well-known authors to reinforce the writing principles presented throughout the book.

"The Elements of Fiction Writing - Characters and Viewpoint" is an important tool for new writers. The book is filled with definitive techniques for creating vibrant memorable characters.
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A few weeks ago I discovered in Speaker for the Dead how distinct and memorable are Orson Scott characters. So, I decided to buy this book for learning the craft. And I'm very pleased. The author goes straight to the point with all the things a writer should consider for creating memorable characters, and how to do it.
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This book has been great fun to use. First I just like the way Orson Scott Card writes. He gives very good advice on where to come up with unique characters. This is part of the fun of fiction--we have the unique opportunity to fabricate an individual that is a mish-mash of our life experience, our imagination and other influences. Mr. Card teaches how to do this and yet still have someone believable that the reader wants to invest their time with on their journey. He also helps us to determine how well developed the character should be -- are they the crux of the story or just a walk-on that adds to the tension or inserts a bit of humor? How to use characters to raise the "emotional stakes"? Mr. Card has suggestions for this as well. Finally Mr. Card gives us some solid suggestions on which voice to use and why that will influence the quality of our story. I like this book, its positive, and writing still feels fun.
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This book is very shallow and basic. I skimmed through most of it, because it contained little that wasn't obvious to me. If you already know that, for example, triggering stereotypes is a quick way to get readers to "fill in the blanks" about what a character is like, then most of this book is not for you.

There are not a lot of actual writing examples used, and the ones that are present are used to help explain his point rather than to illustrate a technique. This is not a book on technique, it's about a high level description of various things relevant to characterization. As a random example, the section on "raising the emotional stakes" starts out with "suffering". Card explains that the more you repeat suffering the less emotional impact it has, and that suffering is more effective when you know its specific causes and effects rather than just describing it. This applies equally well to pretty much any source of emotional impact, such as love, so there is no real idea unique to suffering. Card likes to take general writing truisms that are perfectly useful in themselves, and inflate the page count by wrapping them in overly specific examples.

Don't get me wrong, there is some useful stuff here at the "writing 101" level rather than the "remedial writing" level, but it's a minority of the book and it's sometimes well hidden. There's a very short section on the contract with the reader which makes the basic but useful point that the reader assumes the start of your book is important. Don't put throwaway stuff in the first few pages, if something isn't going to reappear don't give it depth and background right at the start.
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I have purchased 3 books dealing with similar topics. This is the first I was able to read all the way through. A testament to Mr. Cards prowess as a writer. The examples in the book are not disguised advertisements for the authors works. There are a wide range of examples given, all spot on to illustrate the current topic. My only complaint is that some of the novels mentioned as examples of a certain type of viewpoit are now out of print or at least in very limited supply (to expensive for me to buy as research). I will be going back through this work in a few months with a more practiced eye, hoping to gain a deeper understanding of Character and Viewpoint.
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I'm not an Orson Scott Card fan, but I know billions of people are, so I presumed that his discourse on character-driven writing would ring true; and it does. I actually use this book to aid in teaching character development in film, rather than writing, because a lot of Card's ideas work well for either genre. There's a great deal in here that would be helpful especially to a new author wrangling with complicated character ideas, or, again, for someone teaching character development in writing; there are some interesting thoughts in here that could be manipulated into classroom exercises. He does a thoroughly good job breaking down the inner workings of character and, while I could do without virtually all of his personal observations, as a whole I found the book helpful.
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Characters & Viewpoint (Elements of Fiction Writing)
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