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Getting into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors 1st Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0471058946
ISBN-10: 0471058947
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Proven techniques for creating vivid, believable characters

Want to bring characters to life on the page as vividly as fine actors do on the stage or screen? Getting into Character will give you a whole new way of thinking about your writing. Drawing on the Method acting theory that theater professionals have used for decades, this in-depth guide explains seven characterization techniques and adapts them for the novelist’s use.

In this unique and practical book, you’ll discover concepts that will help you understand and communicate the behavior, motivation, and psychology of every fictional character you create. Examples from classic and contemporary novels show you how these techniques have been used to dazzling effect by Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Steve Martini, Anne Rivers Siddons, and others. These simple yet highly effective techniques will help you:

  • Create characters whose distinctive traits become plot components
  • Determine each character’s specific objectives and motivations
  • Write natural-sounding dialogue rich in meaning
  • Endow your characters with three-dimensional emotional lives
  • Use character to bring action sequences to exuberant life
  • Write convincingly about any character facing any circumstance

About the Author

Bestselling author BRANDILYN COLLINS writes novels in both the women's fiction and suspense genres. She is also the author of the well-received true crime title A Question of Innocence. Before turning to writing, she was a longtime student of drama, including Stanislavsky's writings on Method acting. Visit her Web site at: www.brandilyncollins.com.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (March 11, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471058947
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471058946
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #734,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John C. Dunbar on May 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book seemed to be one-half Lajos Egri (The Art of Creative Writing) and one-half John Cleaver (Immediate Fiction). Like both of these authors, Brandilyn Collins explains how to create well-developed, compelling characters that you can let loose in your stories.

All of the author's techniques tie back to Stansislavsky's "Method Acting." Each chapter starts with an analysis of one of techniques of Method Acting. Then that technique is summarized in terms of ficiton writing. The remaining chapter fills in the details and gives examples.

In addition to the techniques of character development, the author presents several narrative frameworks for the overall plotting of the story. She also discusses crafting each scene using character objectives that flow from the character's Inner Values.

The chapter on dialog was interesting. Here, the author shows you how to link the hidden-message of dialog (sub-texting) back to the richly-developed psychological profile, or inner values, of the character.

I liked the book very much - particularly her conceptualization of Method Acting back to narrative writing and her well-explained examples. This book is different than many others describing character development. The author also includes exercises that the reader can pursue.

John Dunbar

Sugar Land, TX
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If you want to get a headstart into what is to come in the next wave of character development then get this book. In my opinion, the future of character development and the secrets in creating a real person on paper lies in the studies done by professional acting coaches.
How did I get this opinion? Well, I was so enlightened by the information in this writing manual that I read the books by the acting coaches Collins refers to and discovered that Collins has scraped the surfaced on a whole science. These acting coaches studied human behavior not only from a scientific point of view but from a sensory point of view. At the time these "Acting Scientists" wrote these books, human behavior sciences like psychology, psychiatry and hypnotherapy were making great strides and right along with them, "Acting Scientists" were adding these priniciples to their acting methods creating a science that changed acting forever. And today, thanks to Collins, Novelists who want to create a real person can benifit handsomely.
There is a thin line between a great novelist and a great actor and I hope to see more acting techniques being translated for the novelist who wants to be great.
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The other reveiwers have it right. After studying more than 30 titles on the craft of writing, I can say that this is by far the most useful work on developing believable and well-rounded characters that I have seen to date. The information is timely, practical, and accessible. The examples are well-organized and perfectly suited to the material. The writer can take what he learns and put into practice immediately. Excellent work!
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Brandilyn Collins treats us to the seven secrets she uses to bring her fiction to life. Through great examples and thorough explanations, she shows writers how to incorporate these secrets.
Beginning with personalizing, she encourages writers to dig deeply to understand themselves and their characters in a way that almost guarantees well-rounded characters. She delves into areas not often thought about that broaden and strengthen stories in surprising ways.
Use of action objectives provides clear motives, tension and conflict for characters, and subtexting explains how to capture unspoken dialogue on the printed page. Coloring passions and inner rhythm help writers develop rich, believable, emotional characters. Restraint and control explains how authors can make the best word choices, and emotion memory enables writers to create vivid characters even though they have not had experiences similar to those of their characters.
The appendix alone is worth the price of the book, because it recommends additional books on writing fiction. Each entry lists the book Ms. Collins recommends and the secret it supplements. 'Getting Into Character' will help both novice and experienced writers hone their skills. My well-worn copy sits on my desk so I can refer to it often.
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Brandilyn Collins has written one of the most valuable books for novelists wanting to create multi-dimensional characters. I have read several books on creating characters, including books by renowned Hollywood script consultants, and none of them comes close to being as unique, helpful, and well written.
Brandilyn has a great teaching style in her writing and she uses perfect examples to explain the Method acting theories and how they can help novelists create characters whose traits are integral to the plot and not just an afterthought.
I can't write a glowing enough review of Getting Into Character. Brandilyn's book is helping me to dig deeper into my characters, to understand not just their motivation but the psychology behind that motivation. I can already tell that many of the struggles I've been having will no longer be a problem thanks to this book. If you are serious about getting published this is a must for your writer's library.
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