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3.4 out of 5 stars7
3.4 out of 5 stars
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on 17 September 2006
The main problem with this book is not that it's a waste of your money or doesn't help in character creation, but that much of what little real information it gives is plain wrong. For example, the section describing how to write in regional/foreign accents is laughable, many of the translated phrases are wrong, and any decent fiction writing aid will tell you exactly the opposite: not to try and spell the sound of a dialect as it's distracting and simply old fashioned. There are many utterly useless lists clearly added to pad out the pages - why exactly would any English novelist need seven pages of Russian vocabulary? 25 pages of lists of names: why? Especially when names such as Charlene, Carly, Carol (with no final e!) are claimed to be French, and so it goes on, cliché-ridden junk. Tellingly the only redeeming pages are where the author quotes other fiction writers, although these all repeat each other (of course, what they're saying is obvious), and you'd get far more depth and clearer explanations from other books on the subject. Avoid this, or you'll feel as had as I did.
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on 21 February 1998
Supposedly a "thesaurus" for character development, McCutcheon's book seems like a sure-fire guide to creating cliched, stock characters. Chapters cover topics like personality traits, facial expressions, and dress, but they are simply lists of words anyone could extract from a conventional thesaurus or dictionary. Worse, his phrases are stale and hackneyed. For example, under "Personality/Identity (Happy/Jovial)", he lists chestnuts like "face aglow with good cheer" and "eyes are like mirthful crescents." Since most pages are simply lists of words, averaging about 30 words per page, there is a LOT of white space. Most disturbing to me was his listing of "Dialects and Foreign Speech." According to him a Southerner would sit in a "cheer" and "drank" some "Co-Cola" or a "bare." Or a Cockney would say, "Bloody well roit, mite." If you were an ethnologist you might transcribe speech in this manner, but this dialect style has been passe in fiction for 50 years. Overall, I found the book to be of little value and a disappointment compared with some of Mr. McCutcheon's others books.
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on 22 September 2002
I was really disappointed by this book. It's largely just a collection of word/phrase lists describing facial features, vocal quirks, clothing types, etc. If I wanted this, I would have bought a thesaurus. Don't bother.
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on 26 October 1998
It used to be that I would sit down, and I would write a story. At the beginning of the story, the character would be a 30 year old female with brown hair, green eyes, and a black beard... And at the end of the story, she would have evolved to a 13 year old boy with blue hair, purple eyes, and a pink dress... Well, o.k... I admit, I may be exhaggerating a small amount. But, when I had no sort of organization for my characters, many times, I would find that my characters were not consistant and therefor lost appeal to the human eye. But, then my fairy god-mother came along and dropped this book on my front porch. I planted it in the ground and suddenly my thoughts began to grow. It gave shelter, and I whole meaning of life to my characters. It gave them personality, it gave them strength. It gave them everything they needed to be believable. This book is in all sense, a gift of heaven. The Character Questionnaire is well-thought out and makes room for the writer to fill in all aspects needed for characters in the story. From the color of one's eyes, to whether or not they smoke, flatulate in public, etc. And then, there are lists, which you can browse through, which I found to be well-organized. I could find anything I needed for my characters. It was more of a connect the dots, and yet, the list were so comprehensive and large, that you could never run out of characters to make. You are still doing most of the creation, but the book just guides you through the process. I deffinately recommend this book to all new writers. However, even the most advanced of writers can benefit from this and I urge them to give it a try. At least try checking it out from the local library for a test-drive. Until next time, write well and have a wonderful life!
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on 27 April 1999
Use this for every important character in your novel and you'll have living, breathing people on the page. The character questionnaire is worth the price of the book.
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on 8 March 1999
To any and all up and coming writers out there, you need this book. I got this book a few weeks ago and my characters have improved SO much. I've already completed one book, but now I've gone back and I've already noticed how terribly put together my characters were. Now with the help of this book, I'm breathing some new life into them. Before you even start to think about putting your characters into motion, get this book which I feel to be something of a guide to interesting chracters.
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on 22 July 1999
I have read this book and it has helped me bring 1D characters to 3D characters easy! Being as young as I am most books like this are hard to understand and when I am through with it I didn't even learn anything! This one was easy to understand and a great help to me.
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