By Orson Scott Card

Vivid and noteworthy characters are not born: they must be made

This publication is a collection of instruments: literary crowbars, chisels, mallets, pliers and tongs. Use them to pry, chip, yank and sift reliable characters out of where the place they stay on your imagination.

Award-winning writer Orson Scott Card explains intensive the ideas of inventing, constructing and proposing characters, plus dealing with perspective in novels and brief tales. With particular examples, he spells out your narrative options—the offerings you are going to make in growing fictional humans so "real" that readers will believe they be aware of them like individuals in their personal families.

You'll find out how to:

  • Draw characters from quite a few sources
  • Make characters exhibit who they're by way of the issues they do and say, and via their person "style"
  • Develop characters readers will love—or like to hate
  • Distinguish between significant characters, minor characters and walk-ons, and enhance each one appropriately
  • Choose the best perspective to bare the characters and circulate the storytelling
  • Decide how deeply you need to discover your characters' options, feelings, and attitudes

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Extra info for Elements of Fiction Writing - Characters & Viewpoint: Proven advice and timeless techniques for creating compelling characters by an award-winning author

Example text

STEREOTYPES The moment we see a stranger, we immediately start classifying her according to the groups we recognize she belongs to. We also, unconsciously, compare the stranger to ourselves. Is the stranger male or female? Old or young? Larger than me or smaller? My race or another? My nationality or another? Richer than me or poorer? Does he do the same kind of job as I do, or a job I respect, or a job I think little of? The moment we have identified the stranger with a certain group, we immediately assume that he has all the attributes we associate with that group.

Characters who violate a stereotype are interesting; by surprising us, they pique our interest, make us want to explore. As storytellers, we can’t stop our readers from making stereotype judgments. In fact, we count on it. We know of and probably share most of the prejudices and stereotypes of the community we live in. When we present a character, we can use those stereotypes to make our readers think they understand him. The old man was wearing a suit that might have been classy ten years ago when it was new, when it was worn by somebody with a body large enough to fill it.

You “know” a lot of things about people you’ve never met, just from what others say about them. The same process works in fiction — your readers will form attitudes and opinions about characters they haven’t “met” yet, just by what other characters in the story say about them. When you finally bring the character into the story in person, readers think they already know him; they already have expectations about what he’ll do. As a storyteller, you have the option of fulfilling those expectations or violating them — but if you violate them, you also have to show your readers how the character got such an incorrect reputation.

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