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Characters & Viewpoint (Elements of Fiction Writing)

4.5 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1599632124
ISBN-10: 1599632128
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Orson Scott Card has won several Hugo and Nebula Awards for his works of speculative fiction, among them the Ender series and The Tales of Alvin Maker. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife and four children.
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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 (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,813 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Richard R. Blake VINE VOICE on January 7, 2012
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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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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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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I was a bit disappointed. Yes, I'm aware this is a guide book, so of course it has to cover all the basics. I don't mind that at all. But I was expecting a more multilayered approach to the subject matter. The basics, but also some more in-depth discourse, especially on the point of view.

I know it's very difficult to write about how you go about creating a character, and Scott Card certainly gave interesting info as to how to start doing it, although there is certainly a lot more about creating characters than he covers. But the point of view is a subject that offers a lot more food for thoughts than you'd say from this book. I know because I read books that opened my eyes on the possibilities and nuances of point of view far more than this book did.

If you are starting off in writing, this is probably the right book for you, it covers all the basics. But if you're looking for something more in-depth... keep searching.
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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 found this book to be a mix of everyday common sense “duh” information and well-thought out ideas that I readily put to use. It’s not going to go over anyone’s head, yet the author doesn’t talk down to the reader either. Solid information. Much new, much reaffirming. For me, it was worth the money.
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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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In this book, Card presents new ideas and explanations for the craft of creating true-to-life characters and choosing viewpoints in which to tell your stories. I bought it after reading it at the library, knowing it is one of those reference materials that I will keep coming back to.
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