Write Great Fiction: Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint : Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Dynamic Characters and Effective Viewpoints (英語) ペーパーバック – 2005/3/15
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Create Complex Characters
How do you create a main character readers won't forget? How do you write a book in multiple-third-person point of view without confusing your readers (or yourself)? How do you plant essential information about a character's past into a story?
Write Great Fiction: Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint by award-winning author Nancy Kress answers all of these questions and more! This accessible book is filled with interactive exercises and valuable advice that teaches you how to:
- Choose and execute the best point of view for your story
- Create three-dimensional and believable characters
- Develop your characters' emotions
- Create realistic love, fight, and death scenes
- Use frustration to motivate your characters and drive your story
With dozens of excerpts from some of today's most popular writers, Write Great Fiction: Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint provides you with the techniques you need to create characters and stories sure to linger in the hearts and minds of agents, editors, and readers long after they've finished your book.
Amazon.com で最も参考になったカスタマーレビュー (beta)
Of the sixteen chapters that comprise the book, the first seven explore character development. Chapter 1 describes character in terms of general types. The book goes on to discuss the importance of how one introduces key characters. The next three chapters drill down into the challenge of building an authentic character: 1.) What is the character like deep down? 2.) Are the motives of the character clear-cut or complex? 3.) How can one show that the character has changed over the course of the story, and, if they don’t change, will the reader be satisfied? Chapters 6 and 7 investigate specialized types of characters (i.e. genre characters such as in romance, mystery, thriller, or sci-fi [Ch. 6] and in humor [Ch.7.])
Chapters 8 through 11 examine emotion and how it’s conveyed to the reader. The means by which writers communicate emotion include: dialogue (Ch. 8), metaphor, symbolism, and sensory experience (Ch.9.) Chapter 10 delves into special cases that are common in fiction but which require unique consideration (love, fighting, and dying.) Frustration has its own chapter (Ch.11,) and that may seem odd, but one must remember that a story is one barrier after another being erected in the way of the character’s pursuit of his or her objective.
The next four chapters present information to help the writer evaluate different approaches to viewpoint. Not only are there various pros, cons, and considerations one must take into account when deciding upon viewpoint, each approach has a several variations. The first of these chapters (Ch. 12) outlines the broad-based considerations. The next three chapters deal with first person (Ch. 13), third person (Ch. 14), and omniscient points of view (Ch. 15,) respectively. (The rarely used 2nd person point of view is also discussed briefly, but largely as a warning.) The last chapter explores how to make it all work by way of what Kress calls the “fourth persona.” Early in the book, one is told that the writer must simultaneously embody three personas (i.e. the writer, the character, and the reader.) Kress’s “fourth persona” is that of the critic, and it becomes necessary once one has drafted a story and character.
The book has a few extras. At the end of each chapters there are several (usually 4 to 6) exercises to help writers understand the concepts through practice. The chapters each have summaries, and at the end of the book there’s a summary in the form of a checklist. That is about it for ancillary features. There are a couple graphics in the form of pictures of a “mini-bio” and an “emotional mini-bio.” These are single page fill-in-the blank summaries that help one build a character that has depth and an authentic feel.
I found this book to be interesting and educational. The writer uses examples from a number of popular commercial and literary fiction authors. There’s no real need to be familiar with any particular author, but being familiar with them might present one with additional insights. The book is readable.
I would recommend this book for writers of fiction.
Throughout the chapters, Kress uses examples very effectively. When she refers to classic characters, she usually uses several, so that if you haven’t read all of the same books, hopefully you recognize at least one or two (she also describes them). If you haven't read any of the books, you'll be at a disadvantage. But I'd think reading a synopsis online would give you enough of an idea of, say, Anna Karenina or Mr. Darcy to understand what Kress means.
Since this is a book that I already know I'll be going back to again and again, I appreciate how well-organized it is, with clear sub-section headings within each chapter so you can quickly find the part you want to re-read. At the end of each chapter, Kress gives a recap of the chapter and includes several exercises to try. I didn't see much point in the recaps, but they didn't take up much space. The exercises were hit and miss. I usually don't actually do exercises anyway, but I like to think them through. When the exercises were specific to the characters in my WIP, they made the most sense to me. And some of the exercises about observing others' behavior (e.g., in public, or interacting with friends) and thinking about how that applies to writing were also interesting. However, many of the writing exercises were completely unrelated to the reader's WIP characters and seemed off-track; presumably anyone reading this book wants to apply it to a current project.
Overall, it's a great craft book, and I would definitely recommend it.
You will learn, perhaps for the first time (as this reviewer did) how compelling fiction gets so compelling. The epiphany: the reader experiences the world through someone else's mind. It is fiction, and only fiction, which creates this illusion. These other-mind experiences are the soul of the writer's craft, yet they are the most neglected by novice writers. Ms. Kress will show you how to develop a strong sense of your characters' pasts. She will convince you that it is your character's story, not yours. You will learn the importance of frustration to character and to plot, and that the main expression of frustration is action. You will learn how to create characters who change and those who don't, and how to "validate" characters' permanent changes. You will learn how character change must come only in response to scenes you've crafted into the story. You will learn to start with mini bios for your characters to serve as templates. Eventually the mechanics will become second nature.
Master the lessons; do the chapter-end exercises, create mini bios, and put yourself into the character's head. Then edit better characters into your manuscript and try again with the literary agents. Your chances will have improved.
That is where this book on character development comes in. I bought it to help me find my way through quite a bit of needs that an edit of my rough draft uncovered.
Nancy Kress's book on character development was helpful. And IS helpful, because there are more drafts to do after I finish this first edit! I recommend this book (the one being reviewed, not mine, ha! ... At least not YET).
The book by Nancy Kress is part of a series on writing, and I can recommend them all. Good perspectives for the developing writers out there! Check them out! If you are browsing the Amazon site, you will see the others in the series recommended somewhere in the Amazon write up on the book
This book above the rest opened my own personal style of writing, and method to an alternative option.
It's not all about characters say and do what.
It's about giving background story and living essence into a written character...
This book combined with the Author who writes "How to write a Damn Good...."???" series, really accompanied each other well.
Both taught me that it's a lot of prep-work, and most of what you write for yourself won't be published in what you hand over to a publisher for book read, but in doing all the pre- character design work, the essence in what stems from knowing your own story character in and out, will flow onto the pages. I've already tried the letter to (me the writer) method; background phobias and detailing out childhood reasons why later as an adult someone reacts in a situation the way they do....its great!
Purchase the book, you won't be disappointed.