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A Writer's Guide to Characterization: Archetypes, Heroic Journeys, and Other Elements of Dynamic Character Development [Kindle Edition]

Victoria Lynn Schmidt
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Develop compelling character arcs using the power of myth!

In the best novels, characters undergo dramatic changes that keep readers turning pages. A Writer's Guide to Characterization shows you how to develop such meaningful character arcs in your own work--stories of transformation that will resonate with readers long after the story ends.

In this comprehensive guide, author Victoria Lynn Schmidt examines cross-cultural archetypes to illustrate how they can make your work more powerful and compelling. Plus, you'll learn how to draw from Jungian psychology to add complexity and believability to your characters.

Schmidt also provides:

  • 40 lessons on character development (with examples from well-known films and novels) that you can apply to your own work
  • Questionnaires and exercises to help you select male and female archetypes and adapt them to your story
  • 15 classic animal archetypes (including the coyote, snake, tiger, and butterfly) you can use to build convincing character profiles
With A Writer's Guide to Characterization, you'll have the information you need to infuse the development of your characters with drama and authenticity.

Product Description

About the Author

Victoria Lynn Schmidt is recognized internationally as a journey & archetype guru for the creative writer. She is the author of Advanced Writing Techniques, Book in a Month, Story Structure Architect, and 45 Master Characters.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 391 KB
  • Print Length: 226 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1599635577
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books (30 July 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008RB88Y4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #158,751 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Use with a pinch of salt 5 Sept. 2013
By Tori
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For an interesting read, to take pieces here and there from, this is very good. But personally I wouldn't use it as a character-creating bible.

Schmidt's influences are very obvious if you have any familiarity with Myers-Briggs/Jung or any other psychological personality typing, and whether you prescribe to such idea will probably influence your opinion of this book. As someone who doesn't particularly agree with the concept, I found this fairly disappointing.

My main problem with this book is the attitude taken towards female characters - one could probably argue there's some underlying sexism. This becomes most apparent in the character questionnaire to decide which character archetype is most applicable. There are 10 questions in each, and most are fairly comparable between the sexes, however there are some points which stand out.

For example, virtually every question has an answer that relates female characters to the people around them - not them by themselves, which never comes up for the comparable male answers. Or, for question 2; this is about the female character's appearance, whereas the male question 2 is about his temperament. Answers for what a character does in free-time also highlighted sexism when describing the answer which could have just as easily been described as "pursuing gender-typical activities" instead we got; "cooking for family and friends" and "playing 'manly' games - karate, shooting pool, hunting"

My favourite were the questions on love and marriage; again, rampant sexism. Women in the male questions were described as "needy" and "suffocating" and that women should look after the day-to-day troubles in life with big burly men take charge of the important stuff! And for women?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ideal muse to have at hand 5 Sept. 2013
By Brid
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book has proved a useful tool to measure my word pictures by. The inclusion of animals as archetypes gives a shamanic edge to each character profile. Thank you Victoria you've made my writing life that much easier.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book 4 Jan. 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Animal archetypes are the way to go. Absolutely inspirational for my own short story writing. Really recommend this. Victoria knows her stuff!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 3 Mar. 2015
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
son very pleased
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I would give it SIX STARS if I could. 5 July 2013
By Sabrina - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is simple, to the point and very well written. The author provides insight on relationships based on universal archetypes and the collective unconscious without the academic psycho-babble. It's Carl Jung's work made accessible to authors and anyone interested in psychology. There are chapters on human characters, male and female roles as well as animal archetypes. The various pairs/combinations of relationships are explored, each with a explanatory paragraph that offers one a quick 'ah ha' moment. As an arm-chair Jungian, I have always viewed this approach to be one of the best ways to help understand literature. Victoria Schmidt has done an excellent job. While her audience is writers, the book would be a great companion text for high school and college students looking to 'get what those teachers are talkin' 'bout.'
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book to Start Developing Your Characters! 19 Jun. 2013
By DL Kamstra - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Schmidt has created a handy writing tool. While no character will fully fit into one of these archetypes, they create an excellent beginning framework- especially for taking a "hero archetype" and turning it into a villain. From these brief descriptions, you can start layering things on your characters to come out with one that is very well rounded.

Another bonus, is that she also includes the ways these archetypes would interact with one another. Unfortunately, it is only listed as male to male, female to female, and then romantically. Reading them you can pick out ways that siblings might interact as well as a parent to child, but it would be nice if there were more specifics about these interactions when it isn't romantic. And I guess even romantic interactions for homosexual characters could be useful as well for a more well-rounded book.

The character arcs are also interesting. They give another good framework for starting a plot line for your characters.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tried it on and took it home (in a minute, after I post this review) 3 Jun. 2014
By Ellell Bee - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
I love libraries as sources for good writing books; they are the dressing room of book sales.

This one fit me pretty well. I'd skipped this writer's books before because they were written for and marketed to romance writers, which is not my genre. This one, however, is usable by every writer.

She lists eight Jungian-style archetypes for both male and female characters - there are some parallels, of course, but she points out that often the same basic impulse is expressed very differently between the genders. She goes on to discuss how the archetype's essential motivation works between two female characters in every possible combination, two male characters, and a female-male pair.

Then, of course, there's the quiz you get to take on behalf of your character. Ten questions, eight possible answers to each. I was quite surprised by the results, and I thought I knew my characters well.

There are also some other ways of looking at archetypal behavior included, and they were insightful as well.

I found a LOT of juice in this book, in other words. I wish Amazon had kept its "Look Inside" feature such that one could browse a few paras before deciding to buy a book, but in this case, the library saved me the trouble. See if yours has it; you might be as charmed as I was.

Or you could just, you know, buy the book. Not a big investment, and if it works for you, it'll be a million-dollar payoff.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Companion to 45 Master Characters! 31 May 2014
By MFormichelli - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is one of the better writer's guides I've read. Ms. Schmidt lays out some excellent archetypes, as she did in 45 Master Characters, and then goes a step further by providing a powerful tool for determining which of your characters fits what.

Not sure how your character should react in a scene?
A series of questions and the chart provided will guide you through it. Unlike 45 Master Characters, 'Characterization helps you set what percentages of which archetypes your characters are so you can have multifaceted, consistent characters.

This guide is a must for any writer in any genre!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Comprehensive Guidebook for All Writers! 15 Aug. 2014
By Tracy Shawn - Published on
"A Writer's Guide to Characterization" is a wonderful handbook for authors of all genres. It teaches writers how to create more vivid characters, compelling character arcs, and all-around meaningful stories. I bought it because I needed to flesh out my protagonist in the second novel I'm working on, and I'm pleasantly surprised that it's not only helping me bring to life more engaging characters, but is also helping me feel more excited and motivated about the whole writing process as well. Thank you, Victoria Lynn Schmidt! Tracy Shawn, author of award-winning debut novel "The Grace of Crows"
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