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Creating Characters: How to Build Story People [Paperback]

Dwight V. Swain
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Paperback, Jun 1995 -- Trade-In Store
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Book Description

Jun 1995
The basics and fine points of successful fictional characters: traits, relationships, motivations, emotions, humor, strong dialog, and -- above all -- the ability to care. A first-class lesson in empathy and believability for all writers.

Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books; New edition edition (Jun 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898796628
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898796629
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,112,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The core of character, experience tells me, lies in each individual story person's ability to care about something; to feel, implicitly or explicitly, that something is important. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exellent better than those cumbersome lists. 13 Dec 2001
By A Customer
Very good and makes sense. Explains characterization in detail. Tells you the what's, whys and hows. Does not expect you to pull ideas out of the air. With this book you can make characters the focus of the story rather than plot and helps fix stories where you think the characters are lacking in whatever aspect.
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0 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Do As I Say Not As I Do 1 Oct 2008
He writes a book on how to write realistic characters but admits in the first chapter that the examples he will give are mostly too broad to be realistic. I have only read the first chapter on the amazon excerpt but that admission decides it for me
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dwight V. Swain - Thank You For This Wonderful Book 28 Jun 1999
By A Customer - Published on
I purchased the first edition of Creating Characters: How to Build Story People in September 1990 and have had endless hours of inspiration and continuous hours of story people development fun. The examples given in this book open the gate of your creativity, along with opening your mind to wonderful ideas of building story people.
From this book you'll learn barn-brush characterization. All you need to start. It focuses you on the basics and it`s easy for both reader and writer to understand.
If you are a writer and find yourself bored to tears, purchase Dwight V. Swain's Creating Characters: How to Build Story People and summarize for yourself (better yet, create two characters and let their dialogue tell you what a bargain this book is for $11.99). I read this book over and over to become reinspired.
If you are not interested in story people development and are a reader of fiction, purchase this book, if only to experience the magic touch a writer uses to create story people you will call your friends the rest of your life.
Thank You: Dwight V. Swain For Writing This Wonderful Book
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book You'll Really Use 15 Jan 2000
By "kingsransom" - Published on
There are some books you read and then put away and there are books you'll use. This is one you'll use. Swain tells us how to create all types of story characters, how to make them credible, how to describe them, how to motivate them and much more. The book's easy, fun-to-read style makes it ideal for beginners, though more experienced writers can profit as well. Every page offers something worthwhile!
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best! 27 Nov 1999
By An L.A. Reader - Published on
Over the years I've bought a lot of books on writing, and I can honestly say that the insights presented here are among the practical and useful.
Swain understands that characters are NOT folks but instead are constructs, partially based on folks and partially based on the author's needs.
I can highly recommend this book.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The difference between amateur and professional 15 Dec 2005
By Sarah - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Years ago, at a garage sale, I stumbled on a copy of Swain's other book, Techniques Of The Selling Writer. Took it home, looked at it and decided it was beneath me -- or at least below the level I fancied I was writing at. A few years later, after three more novel rejections, I took it out and read it. Really read it. It's a basic book, I won't say it isn't. But it covered so much stuff I'd somehow missed. Like the creation of story scenes. When it had sometime to settle in my psyche I started selling short stories. Shortly after, I sold novels. I have now sold eight books -- some not under my own name -- and can live from my writing.

As for this book -- I never had a need for a character book. It's one of the things I do intuitively. However, when my husband was struggling with characters I thought "Well, Swain helped me, so..." and I bought him this book. He studied it and his next story was published.

I can't garantee these results -- there's so much to the selling of a story or novel that does NOT depend on technique of any sort -- but I can tell you that when I'm mentoring someone -- which I've done a lot since then -- and their issue seems to be technique, Swain's books usually cure the problem.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to build characters that matter 10 April 2005
By Jeanne Williams - Published on
Dwight Swain taught writing for many years and helped dozens of writers on their way to publication, including me. He practiced what he preached and sold successfully all his lifetime. There is no mystification in this guide, but solid how-to. An indispensable tool for the beginner and useful tips for the professional. Highly recommended. Jeanne Williams, Award-winning author of over 60 books
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