Just in case you wanted to know, the Coffeehouse for Writers blog has a feature entitled
On Our Bookshelves. I recently shared this review there, and thought it might be of interest to
some of you. :)
Characters, Emotion, and Viewpoint
By Nancy Kress
Writer’s Digest Books
Need help with characters? I do. Since non-fiction is more my thing, I was hoping that this book would assist me with character development. It does! Author Nancy Kress makes good on her promise to provide “Techniques and exercises for crafting dynamic characters and effective viewpoints”.
The author of sixteen novels, Kress is well versed in what makes characters tick. From defining what readers want to putting it all together, she outlines everything needed to create compelling characters. She defines how to assemble your cast of characters and put each one in their proper place. Chapter one includes a mini-bio sheet listing traits, marital status, and other important elements so brainstorming can begin immediately. I like handy tools like this – it helps us hit the ground running, putting things into practice.
We are encouraged to “audition our players” to consider, for example, if we are genuinely interested in the character. Kress also challenges us to ask:
“Is this character or situation fresh and interesting in some new way?”
“Do I find myself thinking about him/her in odd moments…inventing bits of dialogue?”
These kinds of questions, she says, help determine whether or not a character will make the grade for a great book.
Chapters include clear how-to details on point of view, dialogue, emotion, backstory, how characters “learn”, and more. Exercises are sprinkled liberally throughout to help bring motivation, turmoil, and depth to characters. Kress covers how to develop and use humor, love, and action – including how to handle fight scenes. The appendix contains a checklist of critical character points which acts as a handy rubric to guide the process.
I enjoyed Kress’s friendly style and encouragement. I came away knowing that I had the tools to create good characters. This is a book that will remain on my shelf in the trusted resource category.
What books are on your "Must Have" list?
Have a wonderful weekend!
Image credit: bluegum http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1187388