Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Dynamic Characters and Effective Viewpoints by Nancy Kress
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the second writing book I've read by Nancy Kress, and like Beginnings, Middles & Ends, it is excellently laid out and extremely thorough. It covers characterisation, emotion, and point of view with considerable depth and insight, and made me think through these elements of craft in detail and spot areas where I could improve.
Even though I consider myself an intermediate-level writer, have read a good many craft books, and am told that characters are among my strengths, I still learned a lot from it, just because it is so lucid and comprehensive. I particularly appreciated the summaries at the end of each chapter, and the further bullet-point summary at the end of the book.
There are exercises at the end of each chapter. Following my normal (probably bad) practice, I didn't do these. Nor did I think the idea of writing up a "mini-bio" for each character would help me very much, at least not in the very specific format that the author gives. I do write character notes, but I adapt the content to what I'm setting out to do with the characters and what kind of book I'm writing, and I think this would be more useful than following a template exactly.
Examples in the book are mostly taken from literary novels, but the author does spend some time talking about the differences in practice between "literary" and "commercial" fiction.
Apart from confusing "discreet" and "discrete" and a couple of minor typos, the editing is good.
Overall, recommended for writers who want to improve their craft, and I appreciate having it recommended to me by a colleague.
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