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Write Great Fiction - Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint Paperback – Mar 15 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books (March 15 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582973164
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582973166
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.6 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 426 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #34,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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By dgatte on Oct. 30 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Yhis book really helps to review your character development and guides you to enrich and build on their background and viewpoints. Very helpful.
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By Amazon Customer on Oct. 23 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great help when it comes to writing characters, although it took me a while to get through it all.
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By R. Fehr on Nov. 28 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Another great resource to add to my library.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 87 reviews
211 of 216 people found the following review helpful
Another great book in a must have series of books March 30 2007
By Erik1988 - Published on
Format: Paperback
I picked up what I thought would be a rehashing of old material covered in other books on the same subject, but The Great Fiction series of books continues to impress and surprise.

So many books on creating characters speak to their physical description, wants, motives and give the character a background. This book goes a step further and tells you how to do those things and hits the key point of showing emotion.

In addition, chapter Eight titled "Talking About Emotion -- Dialogue and Thoughts" was worth the price of the book alone.

Other great topics were "Showing Change in Your Characters" and "Frustration -- The Most Useful Emotion in Fiction."

Like the other books in the series, Appendix A recaps the author's critical points. Thus for the impatient reader, jump to this appendix and read what the book is about. For those of us who enjoy the journey of the reading the previous 200+ pages, the appendix is a nice summary.

Overall, this felt like the first book that brought all the concepts of characterization into one place and provided me with an easy to follow roadmap to creating, deepening and SHOWING my characters off in my story.

My recommended characterization plan:
1) Read this book as a guide on how to breath life into your characters and what you are trying to accomplish with your characters. (Characters are not there by accident!)

2) Pick up The Marshall Plan of Novel Writing by Evan Marshal or First Draft in 30 Days by Karen Weisner. Both of these books take many of the concepts listed in this book and put them into templates and forms you can fill out to plot your novel

3) Write. Write. Write.

Don't do what I did and spend the last ten years reading more on writing than actually writing. Get that first 1 million words written asap!!
While you are doing it, read this book, which has found a permanent place on my book shelf as a handy reference and reminder of what makes a successful cast of characters.
81 of 86 people found the following review helpful
Extremely well delivered advice May 28 2005
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
As a beginning writer working on my first novel I'm constantly searching for "the book" on a particular facet of writing. As a general book for beginners, Gotham Writer's Workshop is great. However, this book takes its subject topics and provides insights that can be immediately applied to one's writing. Her chapters on point of view (POV) provide explanations that I have not found in other books. The chapters on character emotion are also very well written.

Buy this book, read it once through without doing the exercises. Then read it again, doing the exercises. You won't regret it.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Very informative and easy to read Feb. 19 2006
By K. Mullen - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great overview on creating characters. The author is clearly very knowledgeable, and the writing is never dry. This book continues the trend of the series of including exercises to practice what you've learned. My only complaint is that it doesn't always go into quite enough depth. I realize, though, that the book was designed to be a quick overview and in that respect it works very well. I recommend this book for newer writers aiming at improving their technique.
29 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Another Solid Entry in the "Write Great Fiction" Series.....But.... Aug. 4 2008
By An Android Fan - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a good resource for looking at how characters, the emotions they portray and in what viewpoint (first person, third person omniscient, third person limited, etc) to use, and it certainly complements the other books quite nicely. I have read all of the "WGF" books save for the one on revision and see them all as a great investment.

For this particular book, Nancy Kress does do a good job of exploring each element in detail. Like the other books, it is largely an overview of each concept, and, like the other books, she does hit on some similar aspects that the other books cover more extensively (how could she not? All aspects work together to create a work of fiction.) That is to say, the other Write Great Fiction books all cover every aspect of a piece of fiction, but mainly discuss how they relate to the given topic they wrote their respective book about. So brief overviews are found in the other books and each aspect is covered extensively in the given work. So "Plot" focuses on plot while giving smaller and more general explanations of characters, description, dialogue, etc. while "Dialogue" does the same with plot, description, characters etc. while keeping the focus on dialogue and so on and so forth. I would recommend a would-be author grab all four of these books, as this would then allow them to see the whole picture.

My main problem with this particular book is that when she gets to the section where she delves deeply into first person, at one point at least she goes into a small rabbit trail about why some readers don't like and will never read first person. Apparently they're willing to read books but not willing to suspend their disbelief that the character narrating the work was an active participant. It makes absolutely no sense to me but I am not going to judge these people. My problem with this is that she goes a little bit longer talking about this than what the situation merits, spending at least a page or two on the subject, yet she says NOTHING of authors who write their books in the present tense, even though this style is easily as equally jarring and disengaging as first person, actually more so in my opinion. Why she ignores the pitfalls of writing in present tense yet shows the pitfalls of first person, second person, third person, first person plural, third person plural, multiple first person, multiple third person, hybrid, (and there's more but you get the point,) is beyond me.

All in all a good book and I would recommend it.

Edit on Saturday February 14th: I would also recommend "The Complete Writers Guide to Heroes and Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes" by Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever and Sue Viders.
25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Yet another Home Run Feb. 20 2006
By B. Abernethy - Published on
Format: Paperback
Writer's Digest Books stikes gold yet again with this book of the superb Write Great Fiction series. Nancy Kress smoothly covers the three areas of interest and naturally flows from one to the next as they are related.

The characterization section is wonderful. Among other things it suggests complex characters that are revealed through the problems the author brings their way. Ensure they have a backstory and if they change through the book be sure to dramatize it at the end. Also covers different types of characters for different types of fiction.

The emotion section was great. Good examples and more general than the rediculous book "creating character emotions" by hood, there, I won't even capitalize the title or author of that mess. Important emotions are covered in detail such as loving, fighting, and dying with a complete chapter on the most important emotion of all for your lead character. Can you guess what it is? Nancy Kress will tell you.

Finally viewpoint. I have read several books already on this subject yet Nancy Kress sweetens the pot even more. Good advice and examples.

I would like to add, most books I have read on writing, where the author quotes works for examples of good prose, seem to fall flat. Apparently you must read the entire book quoted to fully appreciate the snippit given as an example. Surprisingly, Nancy Kress steps up to the mound and pitches some wonderful examples that STAND ON THEIR OWN. Nice work Nancy.

I bought all but one of the Elements of Fiction Writing. Home runs. However this new series from Writers Digest Books, the Write Great Fiction series with its four books surpasses them. Together the four books are a GRAND SLAM!