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Creating Characters: A Writer's Reference to the Personality Traits That Bring Fictional People to Life Paperback – 30 Sep 2004

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Creating Characters: A Writer's Reference to the Personality Traits That Bring Fictional People to Life + Fire Up Your Fiction: An Editor's Guide to Writing Compelling Stories + The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide To Character Expression
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland & Co Inc; New edition edition (30 Sept. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786420316
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786420315
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15.1 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,095,188 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 2 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is amazing. I was dubious about it because the price didn't really correlate with the size of the book, but the amount of detail inside is more then what I ever expected it. In truth it might even be too much (235pages).

The book looks at everything you would need to consider when developing a character, and I mean everything. For example, right from chapter one you realise just how deep this book is:

Chapter one looks at a characters internal traits: Is your char. good, evil, reputable, disreputable, honest, dishonest, just, unjust, etc. (You can see a pattern of a negative and positive traits) under each heading it lists words that relate to that trait: Impractical - daydreaming/fanciful/moonstruck etc and it then gives examples how other characters in your book could view an impractical person - "Prone to taking risks, to jump without first looking."

Chapter two looks at eternal traits in the same fashion.

I did a character profile the first day I got it and it ended up being 8pages long even though I cut most suggestions out in the book.

I was going to give the book Five stars but I decided on four because, although I know it to be the best how-to-book that I've bought on character development (and I'm able to compare it with Victoria Schmidt's 45 master characters), if you don't know or have a fair idea of who your character is and what you want from them in your planned novel, you can and will get lost and fall into the trap of contradicting your character's personality just because the book gives you so much to consider. Mind you, Lauther does mention that you won't use everything, but after eight pages of planning you really want to tell the reader every fascinating thing you planned! Alas.
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By Rachel Rutherford on 27 Jan. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're like me and have trouble getting a handle on characters before you start writing, this book is a must have. It doesn't go down the usual road of teaching you about character archetypes; instead it's more like a structured reference guide, offering a ton of questions to ask about your characters and suggestions for their traits, weaknesses, motivations, etc. It's well written and extremely easy to read. I'd highly recommend it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 11 reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Interesting reference book 28 Feb. 2007
By L. Massaar - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a 230+ pages book that examines the various attributes of the human existence. It is organized in such a way as to make you think about what things make for a three-dimensional character you might need to create in your fictional world. In the hardcover version:

Table of Contents

1. What are the character's internal traits (starts p3)

2. What are the character's external traits (p33)

3. What does the character want, not want or need? (p83)

4. What does the character like or dislike? (p97)

5. What does the character fear? (p104)

6. What does the character believe? ((p116)

7. What are the character's strengths, weaknesses and habits? (p124)

8. What is the character's background? (p127)

9. What is the character's self-assessment? (p134)

10. What is the character type? (p147)

11. Does the character have a nickname? (pp189)

12. What is the character's job? (p202)

13. Will the character face a nonhuman adversary? (p212)

14. What plot drivers will affect the character? (p222)

Index (p235 -p250)

In many ways this book is simply a reference work, containing as it does lists of things and short sentences and simple questions. It is designed to spark ideas for character within the reader, not necessarily to provide a this-is-how-you-do-it instruction manual.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A Wonderful Writing Tool 24 Mar. 2000
By "oldreetz1" - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I discovered this book at my local library and quickly determined it to be a tool best owned, not borrrowed. It is a reference that I will access repeatedly while I interview future protagonists or minor characters for my stories and learn how each character will perceive the other, or what psychological effects they will have on each other. Author Howard Lauther takes a savvy inventory of character traits as if they were stocks in a cook's pantry. He tells us about closely related traits and suggests possible mental or physical actions which might accompany those traits we choose for our character. Lauder does not supply character recipes. He merely tells us what to expect readers or other characters within the story to perceive. For example, if we join traits akin to salt and baking soda we can expect our character to expand or rise. Each chapter title is a question about the character being created. An introductory summary expands or explains the question before an array of possible ingredients is set forth for our consideration. Lauder wants to know what our character's internal and external traits are, what he/she wants, needs, dislikes, believes, and fears (to cite a few of the questions). He asks about background, strengths, weaknesses, adversaries, and habits. And for each question there are numberous possibilities shown in a well organized, easy to access format.
This is a marvelous reference tool that I will treasure for years to come.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A must-have for all fiction story writers 19 Sept. 2004
By Jeffrey L. Armbruster - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well-organized, examines many angles of a character. This book will help you dig into your characters to make them stand out, to make them more interesting and believeable. This book is more useful to a story writer than many story writing books. What's more important, the character, or the story?
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Great Reference Tool on Character Traits / Inner Drive! 11 Jun. 2008
By Livvy - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book will Not teach you how to create a character, but it will give you the tools of giving you, the creator/writer, the awareness of all your options in terms of traits, likes/dislikes, personalities, fears and the such, along with questions, so that you can delve into the inner creation of your character's psyche. I don't think I would recommend this book to a beginner as it might overwhelm some, and perhaps at that stage, a beginner may not see the value of this book's content. But as you read up more about the importance of how a person's inner character drives their external behavior, then you will value this book as an excellent starting point in making your character more 3 dimensional.

I bought my book used, so you may want to wait until the price goes down or you can find a used copy that's cheaper.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Creating The Perfect Character Portrait 14 May 2004
By Ametisti - Published on
Format: Hardcover
OK so there is no such thing as perfection. However, this book is pretty darn close.
Warning though. It does read like a college text book. But if you can get pass that. It will be a great tool for you to use.
I've been having a hard time writing that novel. Like many I've had it in my head for year and have been revising it since forever.
This is a very well researched and groomed book. It makes you really think about your characters. Just not about how you see them, but also your readers, and eve the characters in the book.
I've never read a character trait book that is so wonderful.
I have only gone through the first fourty something pages. However, it's all ready been helping me out a great deal.
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