Top critical review
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Useful, though flawed and feminist
on 19 October 2004
This book claims to be a comprehensive survey of basic character types. It's certainly a useful springboard to developing a character, and is especially good at describing how different character types might interact. But it's not as comprehensive as it claims, and suffers from a sexist, feminist bias.
The sexism is apparent from the beginning, as the two main sections of the book are "male characters" and "female characters", even though several character types appear in both sections. Of the ones that aren't duplicated... Apparently the author believes that a man can pursue wealth and power for their own sakes, but a woman can't. A woman can be gentle and free-spirited, but a man can't. A man, simply because he's a man, can never understand persecution or oppression.
The book ends with a description of two basic story types, which I would call plot-driven or external, and character-driven or internal. She prefers to call them "male" and "female", as though only men can have adventures and only women can experience inner change. However, the story types themselves are well thought out and nicely described.
If you are prepared to overlook this bias, and willing to search both male and female categories to find the type you're looking for, then this book can be a useful starting place for developing original characters. We all have a tendency to settle into a comfort zone, writing about the sort of people we know and like ourselves. This book can help you think about characters you might not come up with easily on your own. A very helpful feature is the hints about how different character types are likely to interact, which may well spark off ideas.