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127 of 128 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you're a writer, you owe this one to yourself
I'd recommend this book to any author, novice to frequently-published. Even if you are an absolute natural at instilling your characters with life and believability, it is vital that you know the steps you are taking, unconscious though they may be, that make your characters seem plausible and alive. Card parses out exactly what makes the characterization in any story...
Published on July 25, 2002 by blakletter

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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay, but frustrating at times
I did like it, but I was frustrated that so many of his examples for characters were from television and movies. It's easy to use those as examples - no one had to write the description or emotion - someone acted it! He did it a lot, from talking about tension and sorrow and jeopardy - all had movie examples rather than literary ones.

There has to be a better...
Published on June 27, 2006 by Jennie M. Tracy


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127 of 128 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you're a writer, you owe this one to yourself, July 25, 2002
By 
blakletter (Brooklyn, NY United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Elements of Fiction Writing - Characters & Viewpoint (Paperback)
I'd recommend this book to any author, novice to frequently-published. Even if you are an absolute natural at instilling your characters with life and believability, it is vital that you know the steps you are taking, unconscious though they may be, that make your characters seem plausible and alive. Card parses out exactly what makes the characterization in any story work.
The are chapters on description, motivation and growth are solid. Combined with the wonderful and numerous contrasting examples of good characterization/bad characterization, you will be able to go back to any story you've written and add, subtract and tweak your characters to make them leap off the page. Don't sell this book short because Orson Scott Card is primarily a writer of science fiction, either. This material will make absolutely any fiction a whole measure better.
Worth the money. Revise your stories with it. Write new, better ones after reading it. Run your writing workshops according to it. Card has given the writers' community a true winner here.
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132 of 135 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All you want to know and more., June 1, 2004
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This review is from: Elements of Fiction Writing - Characters & Viewpoint (Paperback)
Orson Scott Card, a well-known, successful sci-fi writer, master of the craft of characterization, gives us with this book one of the few writing reference volumes that flawlessly delivers everything it promises and more. Whether you want to write fiction of any genre, or scripts and plays, and whether you are a beginner or an experienced writer, this book has tons of essential, useful and solid information to offer.
Written in a clear, engaging style and organized in a user-friendly format this thoroughly informative volume is divided into three parts (Inventing Characters, Constructing Characters and Performing Characters) that cover everything you need to know to breathe life and believability into your characters and mold them to accurately fit your story, including among others:
*The factors that make a good character
*How to come up with ideas for your characters
*How different types of stories relate to the characters
*How to give emotion to the characters
*The different types of characters
*Transformations in the lives of characters
*The pros and cons of each point-of-view
The author's suggested exercises reinforced by the excellent examples that illustrate his exposition are helpful additions that allow the reader to immediately apply the lessons learned. Humorous anecdotes and important advice on general storytelling (sources for ideas, plot twists, story structure) are an added bonus.
With this book, you will not only learn how to create great, memorable characters, but you will also attain a greater appreciation of fiction, whether in book or film format, by gaining understanding of the processes required in all aspects of characterization.
With a great binding, sure to resist constant rereads and quick consultations, and a modest price this book is the best value on the market for the advice offered.
--Reviewed by M. E. Volmar
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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book by an Excellent Author, August 14, 2002
This review is from: Elements of Fiction Writing - Characters & Viewpoint (Paperback)
Orson Scott Card is one of the foremost Sci-Fi authors today. He has written numerous novels and short stories, several of which have become major motion pictures.
He gives his advice on character development and viewpoint in this book, which does it rather well. Viewpoint, for me, was a tough subject, and Card covers the basics rather well. He discusses common mistakes, as well as ways to improve. He explains the good points, as well as the bad points about each point of view, then lets you decide which to use.
His characterization help is flawless. I have read several other books on this, and his advice is similar, if not the same as other authors. I have found that his basic format is probably the best way to "create" a person - writing character back-stories, etc. He gives his advice for creating the necessary changes that have to occur over the course of a story, and also gives the reasons why these changes must occur.
This book deserves to be on any beginning writer's bookshelf, although experienced writers may not find the point of view information useful. I feel any writer, experienced or not would benefit from the characterization info.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Probing Look Into Character and Viewpoint, June 25, 2000
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This review is from: Elements of Fiction Writing - Characters & Viewpoint (Paperback)
The book is divided into three parts: Inventing Characters, Constructing Characters, and Performing Characters. Card discusses a wide range of related topics: factors that make or break a character, the different types of stories (Milieu, Idea, Character, Event), how to write emotional scenes, transformations in the lives of characters, show and tell, and the benefits and drawbacks of each point-of-view (POV)---among others. Each chapter flows with a conversational, succinct style, leaving the reader with no excuse for misunderstanding. The final chapters on (POV) were well worth the money I paid for the book. Card explores POV deeply, deeper than any other writer of writer's books that I've read. Between paragraphs, I thought about my own stories and how they grossly lack POV unity (now back to the computer to revise). He uses illustrations, draw by Janice Card, to clarify his points (not that he needed to). After reading the last chapter, I set the book down and thought, "that's a damned good book." It's plain that Card loves fiction and has a thorough comprehension of what good fiction is; this book radiates it fully.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will they care?, October 24, 2002
By 
Don R Waterman (Halfway, Missouri United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Elements of Fiction Writing - Characters & Viewpoint (Paperback)
Readers must care about your characters or there is little point in writing about them. Even if you are a beginning writer you probably already know how you'd LIKE your characters to appear to the reader... but you may not know how to `get there from here'. This book gives you the tools and knowledge to make your hero likable, as well as daring, and your villains believable rather than melodramatic or cardboard.
Anyone who has read the fiction of Orson Scott Card knows that he is a master of the craft of characterization, and he proves in this book that he can also explain how it is done step-by-step. He provides a vast array of techniques that can be used to hew and hone your character to the shape desired. In fact, he gives the beginner so much choice that you may be amazed and daunted by the sheer complexity that you CAN put into a character. Fortunately he puts it into perspective by making it clear that you need not use ALL the techniques and that many of them you may never want or need to use. He emphasizes the importance of using the appropriate tool for the task and that, as a writer, it is your responsibility to match the tools used with the results desired.
If there is a negative side to this book at all it would have to be that Orson Scott Card is probably a little too nice, a little too egalitarian, in his presentation. I'm reminded of the TV artist who can create a breathtaking scene on canvas in half an hour while simultaneously making his audience comfortable with remarks about how a little dab here and a stroke there (as you watch him do it) can be turned into a work of art. Obviously HE can do it. And he makes it look so easy you feel that you could just pick up a brush and it would all happen almost by itself. Only in your dreams.
Card can't give you the talent or motivation to write well, but he certainly does a good job of presenting the tools you'll need to mold your characters into people others can care about... if you are willing to work to acquire the skill.
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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay, but frustrating at times, June 27, 2006
This review is from: Elements of Fiction Writing - Characters & Viewpoint (Paperback)
I did like it, but I was frustrated that so many of his examples for characters were from television and movies. It's easy to use those as examples - no one had to write the description or emotion - someone acted it! He did it a lot, from talking about tension and sorrow and jeopardy - all had movie examples rather than literary ones.

There has to be a better book out there on this subject.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Discover Card's secrets!, April 3, 2000
This review is from: Elements of Fiction Writing - Characters & Viewpoint (Paperback)
I would read Orson Scott Card's shopping list if I could - I just devour his writing. However, reading this book is much more profitable, even if you have no writing aspirations. Written in 1988, when he'd only published a fraction of his incredible list of titles, you will see that he had the whole writing game sorted out, even then. Without credible, interesting characters, possessing an understandable viewpoint, a novel is just a whole bunch of words. I find that I have reviewed some of my favourite Card books (and others) since reading this, and gained a better insight into the characters, their actions, and their thoughts. Card certainly has proven he knows what he's talking about - led by Alvin and Ender, Card has been responsible for some of modern fiction's best loved characters. How fortunate are we to have the great man share his secrets!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on writing I've ever read., April 29, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Elements of Fiction Writing - Characters & Viewpoint (Paperback)
It's a rare treat to have someone who is as entertaining and prolifc an author as Card is who *also* can explain how he does it-- so clearly that you end up believing that you could do it too! I have read many, many books on writing techniques-- have attended countless writing courses-- have participated in numerous workshops. But this book has more useful information in it than all the other writing instruction I have ever experienced put together! I think it's imperative for anyone interested in writing fiction at least to read once, and preferably own and study, this book.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Resource, August 17, 2006
This review is from: Elements of Fiction Writing - Characters & Viewpoint (Paperback)
As an aspiring writer, I have been greatly aided by Characters and Viewpoint. Card divides his book into three sections: Inventing Characters, Constructing Characters, and Performing Characters. In the first section, Card outlines where ideas for characters come from, and how to exploit these ideas to their full potential. He suggests interrogating our characters in order to realize them as full-bodied figures. In Part Two, Constructing Characters, Card explains that the characters we need depend on the type of story we are telling (e.g. an event story vs. a character story). He writes that many people (myself included, before I read this book) are under the misguided impression that every story needs to have full character development. He dispels this notion, saying instead that the amount of characterization needed depends on the type of story we are telling. For example, a character story needs more fully-developed characters than an event story. He goes on to explain how we elicit emotional responses from the audience for certain characters (e.g. how we control their dislike or contempt or pity for the antagonist). Part Three, Performing Characters, outlines how we present our characters and situations to the audience through our use of voice and viewpoint. He further explains the distinction between representational and presentational stories, and which you should choose for your own story.

Overall, I found this work extremely helpful to me in many areas: finding my characters, fleshing my characters out, and presenting my characters to an audience. A wonderful book for any aspiring author!
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Add this to imagination, and stop worrying about characters, May 1, 2002
By 
Dave Cohen (Boston, MA, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Elements of Fiction Writing - Characters & Viewpoint (Paperback)
As an Orson Scott Card fan and about-to-be-published author, I naturally picked this book up. Expecting a helpful guide to crafting characters, I got all I wanted, and more.
This book carefully details the necessary questions to ask and excersises to try for creating characters that your readers will know "better than their own family."
But more than that, this little jewel shows how to come up with realistic, believable people to populate your stories - people with a history, people that could be real people, walking past you on the street every day. After following the advice in this book, you'll know a little more about human nature than before, and hopefully be more interested in reading and writing good literature.
Words cannot do this book justice (uh, sorry about the cliche Orson), and any writer owes himself this read.
I really can't give 'Characters and Viewpoint' any more praise without just embarassing myself, but trust me, if I had to take one book only to an uninhabited island where I could write in peace, this would be it. A definite A+, two thumbs up, 5 stars, and whatever else I can find. If you write, and are not yet published (and even if you are), this book is invaluable for creating good fiction.
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Elements of Fiction Writing - Characters & Viewpoint
Elements of Fiction Writing - Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card (Paperback - March 15, 1999)
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