- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press; 1/16/08 edition (February 15, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0806139188
- ISBN-13: 978-0806139180
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 35 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #716,723 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Creating Characters: How to Build Story People 1/16/08 Edition
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Personally, I found the book to be well organized. If I ever need to brush up on something specific, I could easily pick this book up again, check the table of contents, and know exactly what section I needed to reread. Someone who hasn't read this book could get a pretty good idea of what it contains just by reading the TOC subheadings. Most of the subheadings are quoting the core message behind each chapter. You can almost use the subheadings as a writing cheat sheet. I find that very convenient.
The author does cross reference between chapters, which could possibly frustrate some readers, but I had no trouble following the core message in each chapter. Each section is kept very simplistic and on point, which is something else I like about the book. The chapters are helpful without being unnecessarily complex or difficult to navigate.
One of the things I like most about this book is that it takes a more organic approach to building characters. You won't find endless pages on archetype, nor are there any psychological profiles to work through. Mr. Swain's book is more about choosing a dominant impression and using rationalization to sort out a character. This is primarily what I was looking for in a book on characterization.
Also in this book, you'll find a simplified section about building up a character's personality by adding ideals and values linked to their background. The only other book I've read that touches on ideals and values in such a flowy, organic way is Randy Ingermanson's Writing Fiction For Dummies. (That's another book I highly recommend, although it takes a slightly more complex approach to building and understanding characters.)
The only thing I found in Creating Characters that seemed a bit dated was Chapter 11, which is about making your character amusing. The jokes, of course, are very dated and aren't funny at all, but the pattern and point Mr. Swain is trying to get across is still very relevant today. One has to simply keep in mind that the author was from a different generation.
Overall, Creating Characters is a solid book on characterization, and I would happily recommend it to writers at any stage in their career. I learned a lot from this book, and I'm sure I'll be referencing it in the future. This is definitely one for my keeper shelf.
I've never read a writing-help book that covered so much I haven't seen elsewhere. Wish someone would produce an audible so I could just listen over and over as I go about my day. I WILL read it over and over.
If you read only two books on writing this is one of the two. The other is Techniques of the Selling Writer. Thank you Mr Swain - wish you had written more.
My recommendation is to read Techniques instead, which has everything you need to understand what makes a fictional character lifelike or "compelling."
"real " people.
I am excited and want immediately to begin putting into practice the basic tools of a craft which has been frustrating me for ages. I had almost given up trying. My batteries are now re-charged and I am practicing the advice from Mr. Swain's book..
If you are seriously trying to produce a good book and feel frustrated when you can't get the words just right, this book is for you.
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Make you look at your characters from a different point Of view