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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 7 August 2002
Having just finished reading this excellent work, I then had the opportunity to watch a couple of movies that I have seen before, and was surprised to see many of the techniques detailed in the book used on screen, where it was now noticable to me that they could have been done a lot better, had the director taken the time to read a book on writing...
Orson Scott Card has laid out the character techniques used in books and in places how they overlap with movie techiniques to help the writer create believable characters and how the writer can use these techniques in order to help the reader immerse themselves into the book rather than focus on the fact that they are reading a book (or watching a movie or a play), unless that is indeed what the writer is trying to accomplish.
I learned a great deal about a number of tools that can be used in writing, and would recommend this book to anybody who writes - be it fiction or not. I'll be sure to be using some of these techniques in my normal day to day life now that I know they exist and know how to apply them.
This is much more than just a book on writing - its a great tool in learning how to get across an idea or topic to any form of audience.
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59 of 60 people found the following review helpful
on 1 March 2002
Often, when reading "how to" books, I find myself flicking ahead to the end of the chapter, to find out how many more pages of tedium I have to suffer before reaching the next milestone.
Not so with this. It actually gripped me - extraordinary for a book on technique! Card's writing is so engaging and informative that it's a joy to read.
Compared to other books I've read in this area, it's brimming with ideas that are accessible and usable. Having finished it yesterday after reading it in two sittings at breakneck speed, I may not remember every detail but I feel I have a lot more insight into fictional characterisation and viewpoint than I did before... I've read other books on creating characters, but this really showed how and why, instead of giving me glib checklists and long, dry discussions of other peoples' work.
Another refreshing change is that, as well as giving you the tools to create characters, Card also offers advice on when deep characterisation is (in)appropriate. His MICE (Milieu, Idea, Character, Events) quotient - something I first met in his "How to Write SF and Fantasy" book - helped me think about my work in new ways.
The final part of the book is about viewpoint. It's much shorter than the characterisation section, and I thought "Oh, a minor part tacked onto the end". I was wrong: he gives an excellent analysis of viewpoint. I thought I understood this pretty well before... perhaps I did, but in any case I understand it better now :-)
I have no doubt that I'll return to this book again and again, but on a single reading all I can say is: if you're an aspiring writer, you could do a lot worse than to get this!
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 19 September 2000
There are never enough stars for Card books, and this is no exception. Card points out, not only the big and important things about creating characters, but also the small niggling things that give your character just that...character. He also deals with Viewpoint, a decidedly irritating topic, very well. Examples throughout the text help illustrate points, and the book is written in such a way that it could be helpful to English students as well as aspiring writers!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
As a professional writer and reader for a film company my overwhelming criticism of the material I receive lies in a fundamental misunderstanding of both character motivation and narrative point of view. If you feel that this is a weakness in your own writing I urge you to beg, borrow or steal this book.

It is not a tome, like many of the so-called "how-to" books, nor does it need to be as the author has a gift for distilling the essence of good writing: always remembering your contract with your reader. Whether this is the general public, your friends and relatives or the gatekeepeer at a major publishing house or prod. co, you need an understanding of the effect your stories and characters will have on your audience. Orson Scott Card takes you through the importance of motivation, the effect different kinds of characters have on the audience, and the importance of detail in creating a realistic and believable world inside your story. The section on viewpoint is incredibly comprehensive, enabling you to make an informed choice about the correct point of view for your particular story, making it the most powerful it can be for the structure, philosophy and effect you want to create within your reader. These are not random choices, something which the new writer, especially, needs to have drilled into them emphatically.

The quality of the writing in this book is reflected in the high standard of the examples the author gives; his own prose is entertaining, affecting and clear. I think this would be a marvellous guide to have with you when you already have a story that you want to tell. Read this book in tandem with your daily writing and revise your story's weak points by consulting with the text. It will be enlightening how much you can strengthen your own work simply by applying the principles outlined here.

I have reviewed a number of writing books in my professional career and this is one that I would be happy to recommend wholeheartedly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Characters and viewpoint is a book that every aspiring fiction writer should keep close at hand.
It provides a comprehensive introduction to the intricacies and pitfalls that are part of the process of creating characters that are both memorable and realistic, and then goes on to provide the most useful and easily understandable analysis of voice and viewpoint that I have ever come across. It is almost two books for the price of one. Within the book there are a series of tools and techniques that can be used to create characters that will mean something to the reader and it shows how these tools can be used to create characters that will inspire the desired reaction from a reader.
However, what is especially useful about this book is that it is more than just an instruction manual. It shows what to do, it explains how to do it, and then uses specific and extremely well thought out examples to show exactly why something should be done that way. As I read it I found that instead of taking the advice at face value, I was thinking more closely about when I could use particular techniques and why I would want to use them in my own writing. This is exactly what the book's approach encourages. The way this advice is given somehow never feels prescriptive; it feels like a friendly exposition on an interesting set of possibilities, rather than a set of instructions.
Every day I can now see stories (including published work) that would benefit from their author reading this book and taking on board some of the guidance provided on character and in particular voice and viewpoint. I have to admit that I am unlikely ever to use a first person narrator again as a result of recognising elements of my own work in the examples of why first point narration is a more difficult skill to acquire than most writers think it is!!
So, if you've ever written a story where the narrator was flat, bland and characterless, or where the characters had a decent future ahead of them as storefront mannequins, then this is the book for you. It is an excellent book that will help you bring life to your characters and develop an engaging and appropriate narrative voice. My one word of warning would be to say that this is probably a book to read once you've got some writing experience behind you and want to improve, rather than to look to this book to start you off on the right foot. I don't think I would have realised how good a book this was if I didn't recognise so many of the problems from my own work. However, that said, I would wholeheartedly recommend it to short story and novel writers alike.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 January 2010
I originally borrowed this book from the Library and had it for about 9 months and realised that there wasn't going to come a time when I wouldn't enjoy the thrill of having new and exciting ideas sucked out of every pore.

I haven't read any of Orson's novels but this book is inpiring. I enjoy it every time I pick it up and I think of a new twist to my story or find a way to evolve my characters into people I feel that I know somehow.

Worth every penny, for the fresh starters and those who have some ground but want a bit of a pick me up.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 24 October 2002
Orson Scott Card knows writing pretty well; he's written novels from a dozen genres, as well as numerous plays, and he's even trying his hand at a movie script. So he's certainly a voice of authority. And his advice is excellent. His clear style of writing is as at home in non-fiction as it is fiction, and the book is broken down into sections to make it easier to read. These sections also make it ridiculously easy to dip into for quick advice. Said advice is presently simply, which belies the thought and experience behind it. In fact, the only reason that this book hasn't received five stars is that it reproduces some of the advice from his "How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy" (which I also recommend). To be fair, though, that advice is given a twist to make it more relevant to writing characters.
This has helped my own writing no end, and I'd bet my bottom dollar it will help your's too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 August 2011
I read quite alot of 'how to' writing books. For me this has been one of the better ones.
It's one I will certainly now keep dipping into. Orson Scott Card writes clearly and well and most of all interestingly. Some other writing books have sent me to sleep!
Well worth a look - but you cant have my copy - i'm keepng it.
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on 4 June 2014
This book gives valuable advice on showing character rather than telling and, as it says in the title, clarifies how to use viewpoint. Not only would I recommend it but I bought this (my second copy) for someone else.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 23 February 2010
How can you help someone creating good characters when you can't even think of different names for yours?
This book is incredibly useful to hate Nora and Pete for the rest of your lives but if what you want is to know about "techniques of inventing, developing and presenting characters" forget it.
The first part of the book (characters) is stuffed with countless examples, too many of them of films. It's an interesting reading anyway but totally useless if what you want is to improve the characters of your novels. If you're starting to write it's O.K. If not you won't learn anything you don't already know.
The second part of the book (viewpoint) is both very useful and interesting but too short, so it's no worth the expense.
If you really want a good book about writing buy `On Writing', by Stephen King or `Your Writing Coach', by Jurgen Wolff and don't waste your time or your money with this one.
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Characters & Viewpoint (Elements of Writing Fiction )
Characters & Viewpoint (Elements of Writing Fiction ) by Orson Scott Card (Paperback - 8 July 2011)


 
     

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