Thursday, 14 January 2016

Review: Elements of Fiction Writing - Characters & Viewpoint

Elements of Fiction Writing - Characters & Viewpoint Elements of Fiction Writing - Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'd already heard much of the advice in this book, in part because Mary Robinette Kowal of the Writing Excuses podcast is a fan and refers to it often. It was still worth reading, as it takes the reader through a number of important considerations about characterisation and allied subjects: not only how to use the techniques, but when and why. I highlighted a great many useful and well-considered passages.

Card's basic view of writing is that in telling stories, we are influencing people to expand their understanding of the human condition; that by presenting fictional characters we can help our readers understand them more than they have ever understood a real person, and to understand themselves. This involves making the reader care about, believe in, and comprehend the story that you're telling and the characters in it. In order to do this effectively, we need to understand the techniques of characterisation.

Along the way, he considers the question of the epic hero versus the ordinary person; the comic character and the serious character; the hero and the villain; character change; voice; and viewpoint. Throughout, he explains the techniques in terms of the likely effect on the reader.

The Kindle edition has been scanned from a print copy, but competently, and there are only a few small errors (such as a missing blank line after the sentence "This is what a line break looks like").

All in all, worthy to stand alongside its series-mates Scene and Structure and Beginnings, Middles & Ends.

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