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Writer's Guide to Character Traits Paperback – August 9, 2006

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Product Details

  • Series: Writer's Guide to Character Traits
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books; Second Edition edition (August 9, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582973903
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582973906
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #147,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

As a practicing psychologist, Dr. Linda Edelstein specialises in the development of professional identity, creative adaption and grief. She is also an associate professor at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology and frequently presents at national conferences and workshops.

Customer Reviews

I learned so much about human character traits from this book.
Wow, it really makes you dig deep to find every possible understanding why our characters will or won't do what they do!
The main drawback is the that while it does give some information and a few layouts, some parts are sexist.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 49 people found the following review helpful By J. Clark on May 31, 2007
Format: Paperback
I almost passed on this book due to some of the negative reviews here, but I'm glad I didn't. I spotted this on the shelf at a local book store and sat down with it for ten minutes. After that I bought it without hesitation. I'm only knocking one star off because it could be better organized (mostly inconsistencies in presentation, though it's easy to read, it would just be easier to scan through with a little reworking).

I think most of the negative reviewers were either expecting a book about creating characters (similar to Orson Scott Card's wonderful Characters and Viewpoints, for example), or were expecting an in depth discussion of psychological issues. This book is neither of those. I'd almost call it an overview of armchair psychology, in that is briefly discusses the behaviors most commonly associated with various disorders and life circumstances, but doesn't get into the subtleties or the exceptions. For example, the traits listed for first born children don't really fit me, but they do apply to most other first born children I've known. On the other hand, one of the personality types fits me perfectly (The Creative), and people I've known with various disorders are certainly present in the descriptions given, even if it doesn't all apply.

All of this is merely a starting point, a list of the most common traits associated with these topics. Nothing is set in stone, there are no "rules" for how to apply this information. Personally, I found this to be very helpful. For example, I was having some trouble defining an important character in a story I'm working on. At first, he was basically a collection of traits designed to serve the plot.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By T. Hewitt on February 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
There are some good pieces of psychological information in this book that could asssit in rounding out an already developed character. Also, if your character matches perfectly to one of the character types in this text, then you can be assured that you have a stereotype, which is good to know. The explanation of motivation for certain crimes is also informational and fairly intuitive.

Overall, the information is simplistic and incomplete even given the limited parameters of printed information(in the murder section, murder to specifically advance goals or cover a problem is not mentioned.) I found myself often saying, "but what about..." While it is true that one cannot cover every piece of information in a given subject area, the reader should not be left guessing about the omission of information.

There was a particular page in the book that really got under my skin as a psychologist and a woman. Her explanation of how "we" see heroism as adventure-seeking and risk taking (and "we're" wrong!) She goes on to explain how to define heroism (a good definition) and how once we do that, women outnumber men in the number of heroes. It demonstrates a subtle theme running throughout the text that got under my skin. She assumes an attitude is widespread (poor definition of hero;) and that women are better (once we redefine, women outperform men.)

I shall keep this on my reference shelf for occasional perusal.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. N. Goslee on October 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
I found this book dull and uninteresting. I think you might accomplish the same function more accessibly by simply purchasing an introductory psych textbook or using wikipedia to look up a list of disorders. The author claims in the introduction to have received a lot of negative feedback on the first edition: she has "reworked a lot of material to improve the flow," but she has failed to create something that will compel me to ever open it again. Reads rather like a software manual or a "for dummies" book. In no way is this a "writer's" guide to character traits. Holly Lisle's Character Clinic was much more what I was looking for... she jumps right in actually applying the psychological theory to ask character creation questions.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bradley on July 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
Consider for a moment Wikipedia; the much criticized and much debated online encyclopedia. Writers who respect the research process express concern and often hatred of this online information source. Until, they understand and accept its primary purpose. Wikipedia is the perfect place to "start" research.

Think of this book as the perfect writing companion to assist you during the sketch of the story to be replaced by authoritative research after the completion of the first draft. Why slow down the initial drafting process or outline to look up the fundamental details of how it feels to be the middle child?

The reality is that there just isn't a single book out there than you can rely on for complete character development. It is conceivable that you could accumulate an entire shelf of character development guides and still feel that something is missing. In fact, I find building a library is a good way to completely avoid writing altogether. (The solution is to take a deep breath and start writing without all the answers.)

Check out these additional character development books after reading this fantastic book:

- Characters and Viewpoint (Elements of Fiction Writing) by Orson Scott Card

- Write Great Fiction: Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint by Nancy Kress

- Getting into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors by Brandilyn Collins
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