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Elements of Fiction Writing (Elements of Fiction Writing)

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  2,655 ratings  ·  231 reviews
Vivid and memorable characters aren't "born": they have to be "made" This book is a set of tools: literary crowbars, chisels, mallets, pliers and tongs. Use them to pry, chip, yank and sift good characters out of the place where they live in your imagination.

Award-winning author Orson Scott Card explains in depth the techniques of inventing, developing and presenting chara
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ebook, 242 pages
Published December 1st 2010 by Writers Digest Books (first published 1988)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Samir Rawas Sarayji
Characters & Viewpoint is another book by Orson Scott Card from the Writer's Digest Books that failed to impress. The book is 182 pages and is divided into 3 main sections, 'Inventing Characters', 'Constructing Characters', and 'Performing Characters'. Each part is, in turn, divided into smaller chapters.

The first part covers topics that are really for the novice writer, someone who never wrote fiction and one day decided he/she wanted to... It explains how characters can come from people yo
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Melissa
Not my cup of tea when it comes to writing advice. This WD book was very basic and most of the guidance on characterization is focused on creating characters before you start writing and not fleshing out those characters on the page. Toward the end of the book when Card does finally begin to address what happens to characters in the actual novel/manuscript he gets a bit preachy and theoretical and makes more than few statements that I do not believe are accurate around POV and tense.

Overall I f
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Alex Sarll
I've just remembered that I read the noted homophobe's writing guide back in my early teens. Even then, I could tell that a lot of his advice was bollocks - I especially remember the bit about how erudite types were inherently unsympathetic, and a smart hero would have to punch a couple of guys for every time he demonstrated his brains. Yep, as demonstrated by the lamentable obscurity in which characters like Poirot and Sherlock Holmes have long languished, right? Pillock.
Eric
I read this book at a point where I'd already read a couple dozen books, a hundred Writers Digest magazines, and a zillion web pages on writing. Upon reading this book, I was EMBARRASSED by how much I didn't know! Characters and Viewpoint is required reading for all fiction writers.
Richard
Characters and Viewpoint
By: Orson Scott Card
Writer’s Digest Books

Tools for Creating Vibrant Memorable Characters

In “Characters and Viewpoints” Orson Scott Card provides the writer with the tools for constructing colorful credible characters.

Card grabbed my attention as I scanned the table of contents. I immediately followed this by perusing the bold headings within the chapters.

The book is divided into three parts. Card begins with pointers on inventing characters, where they come from, potenti
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Amanda
This book has some good tips for anyone who wants to evolve their characterizations skills.

Unfortunately, the book is not crammed with such tips on every page. A lot of time is spent rehashing the same point over and over from several perspectives until your eyes start to glaze. It is possible that this would be helpful for a complete novice, but for someone who has already got a lot of this writing stuff figured out, it just comes across as a lot of fluff and filler. I will keep the book as a
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John
In this book, Card delved deeper into the subject matter than I've ever seen anyone do before. This is a book I think anyone serious about writing a novel ought to read. It's made even better by the fact that Card's insights apply equally to both literary and mainstream fiction.
Newton Nitro
Personagens bem construídos é o segredo de qualquer narrativa que prende o leitor. Dentre os livros com dicas para escritores focado na criação e desenvolvimento de personagens na narrativa, Character and Viewpoint, do Orson Scott Card (o autor de Ender’s Game), é um dos mais famosos.

O livro está dividido em três partes, respectivamente, a Invenção de Personagens, a Construção de Personagens e a Representação de Personagens. Cada uma das partes é repleta de dicas para as diversas etapas da carac
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Taka
Solid book on writing--

While some information is pretty basic and somewhat outdated (I'd have to disagree with the author's contention that the present-tense first person doesn't work), this book offers a whole range of invaluable advice on characters. The book is divided into three parts, not all of which provide the same quality of advice and information.

The first part has only some useful tips and advice, covering basic grounds like where we should get ideas for characters and naming them. Hi
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Carlos Velez
Orson Scott Card writes really great characters. I've read a couple of his Ender novels, and another stand-alone novel called Empire and his characters are really smart and are able to dive into the psychology of the people around them. They understand people and why they are who they are, and why they do what they do. It is most certainly a reflection of the author's own understanding of the inner workings of himself and the people around him. He is able to take his life experiences and create ...more
Veronica Morfi
Strong and believable characters are the essence of a good book! This book is the perfect guide on how to built this kind of characters. From the very simple things, like their personality to the more complex ones, like the reasons behind their acts, this book explains them all. It is well writen and easy to understand. It can help you create and develop the characters of your story.
I never thought that characters are the most important thing in a story, even if the storyline is not that strong
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Ruth Jacobs
Aug 13, 2012 Ruth Jacobs rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Writers
Shelves: books-on-writing
Okay, so you know I'm an addict, I read a lot of books on writing, and I'm not done on reviewing them all yet. This was useful in helping me decide which viewpoint to write from and how best to do that. Also what mistakes to avoid making as well. Such as writing a whole novel in third person, when other things are occurring that the protagonist can't know about they cannot be mentioned. But there are clever ways certain things can be shown to the reader through the actions of other characters wh ...more
Grace Wagner
This is actually the latest book I've read and it's been incredibly helpful. I was having trouble with my new book because it's told from two main characters' POVs in first person. I really felt like I hadn't solidified those characters and I turned to this book to help. The thing I liked best about this book was that it didn't tell you how to create in depth characterization. It asks you the right questions so you get there on your own. It really is a book of tools, not answers, and those tools ...more
Femmy
This has got to be one of the best books about writing. It discusses characterization in depth, with practical tools you can actually use in your fiction.

Other articles I've read about characterization inevitably instructs you to create a complete profile about your character, sometimes giving you a form to fill out, with prompts like favorite color and such things, but they don't really show you how to make these details alive in your story.

Characters and Viewpoint shows you just that, how t
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Michael Thorn
OSC dropping knowledge on me once again. I bought this for the information on characterization thinking I would skip the perspective sections, but I got sucked into it, and I am glad I did. The man knows his business, and the nuanced information on varying perspective to control the reader's experience in your novel is genius stuff. As usual, OSC gets to the heart of the matter without any wasted words. Knowledge is taken from his words and inserted directly into my brain. Every time I read one ...more
Alex Ristea
Wow. This was the first I read in the Writer's Digest series, and the rest are eagerly awaiting me in my library.

If you're a writer, this is a must-read. Orson Scott Card explains key storytelling concepts so naturally that this is an absolute pleasure to read for its own sake.

I would recommend this even if you have no intentions of writing your own prose. You will have a better appreciation and understanding of narrative and characters after this book, and your reading will never be the same.
Eben Mishkin
All the topics covered in Characters & Viewpoint are good but in several places it excels beyond most other writing books. To my knowledge no other creative writing text goes into the detail that Card does on viewpoint. Card is an exquisitely good teacher of the craft, and this book is honestly the only way to get this information anywhere close to this good. And his exploration of viewpoint is not the only section where this book puts itself above its peers. His discussion of what kind of s ...more
Mitchell
People who didn't get anything out of this are not good writers. I'm just putting it out there. I don't want to start any fights, but that's just the way it is. If you want a step by step on how to write a novel, this is NOT your book. There are tons of books like that. This is the only book I've ever read about characters and their motivations. The only reason it has so many one-two ratings is because poor writers don't know how to apply this information. It's only the people who don't understa ...more
Charles
There is nothing very new within these pages that help and aspiring writer, unless you have not read any other books. I do like Orson Scott Card and his writing advice, however, everything here he has said before and others will say again. There are simple explanations as to "Show Don't tell," but then after he states the rule, he breaks it. Some of his examples are also very dated, and most new writers today probably have no idea who Elmore Leonard or Spenser is, though they will still know who ...more
Valerie
I graduated from college in English--and yet this is the best book I've read on how to write characters. I thought it was fabulous. I love many of Card's books, so it was also nice to see into his writing mind.
Christine
This book answered some questions I still had after doing a lot of reading on the craft. It explains use of tense, line spaces, and provides tons of info on viewpoint and creating characters that come to life.
Liz B
Clear and straightforward. I think this will be a great book to recommend to certain 8th grade readers. They are dying to write fiction, and this will give them some ideas for places to start.
Lauren
This book helped me understand so much about the characterization process - I will return to it many times for reference. Incredible resource for fiction writers.
Mars Dorian
In-depth book about writing 3D, compelling characters that act interestingly and own a backstory that makes them feel real.

You learn about :
creating interesting back stories.
Making their speech compelling and yet believable.
using the right perspective at the right time (e.g. 3rd person limited)
etc.

Especially the section about viewpoints blew me away - I learned sooo much about when choosing the right perspective and the power of each. Orson goes deep and gives you excellent examples.

Highly rec
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Fairwind
This is the single most useful book I've ever read on writing. Scott Card does an excellent job at explaining relatively complex ideas in clear and concise ways, and he does it by giving examples along with his explanations, which is exactly how I learn best. If you are an aspiring writer who is willing to acknowledge you don't know everything about writing characters, then I would highly recommend this book for you. Face it, people are really complicated, and learning how to do them create them ...more
Justin
Characters and Viewpoint is a great writing reference for anyone who wants to learn about creating characters and understanding characterization. Orson Scott Card divides the book in three parts: Inventing Characters, Constructing Characters, and Performing Characters. Taking time to understand what makes a good fictional character, and planning out how characters work in your story is something every writer needs to consider. I also learned quite a bit in the third part about different types of ...more
James Thoenes
A great deal of great advice from an amazing author. I'll probably read this over from time to time.
Not just about character, but developing story also. There are plenty of examples to demonstrate what is meant so it's not just do this when you right but this is the difference it makes. There are bad examples too, I suspect some of those that give bad reviews skimmed through and saw these and assumed that is what Card was teaching.
There are lots of "authors" who go on to write books on writing a
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Selina Kyle
This book is a good insight into the process of an author who writes very memorable characters. Does it help other people write better characters? Maybe.

Some parts were in-depth and had useful examples and exercises; others were vague, barely a handful of paragraphs long, and didn't seem to add much to the book, or inspire anything out of the reader (at least when the reader is me).

On the whole I'm glad I bought it. I'm even more glad that I bought it at half price. This is a handy book, but bes
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Blak Rayne
Once in a while, I do pick up a non-fiction book. And, the last one I read certainly isn’t a title I’d recommend. The author tried to mesmerize her audience with unnecessary verbose academic language and, what I assumed she believed to be, witty remarks. Unfortunately, I didn’t care for the condescending tone of her writing and lost interest halfway through.
On the opposite end of the scale, Elements of Fiction Writing: Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card was a concise, informative and
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Maryann Spikes
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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  • Beginnings, Middles & Ends (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Scene and Structure (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Plot
  • Conflict, Action and Suspense (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Description
  • Description & Setting
  • Dialogue: Techniques and exercises for crafting effective dialogue
  • Revision & Self-Editing: Techniques for Transforming Your First Draft Into a Finished Novel
  • The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life
  • Writing the Breakout Novel
  • Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go
  • Between the Lines: Master the Subtle Elements of Fiction Writing
  • The Writer's Guide to Character Traits: Includes Profiles of Human Behaviors and Personality Types
  • Writing Dialogue
  • Story Structure Architect: A Writer's Guide to Building Dramatic Situations and Compelling Characters
  • Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time
  • 20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them
  • Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print
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Orson Scott Card is the author of the novels Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, and Speaker for the Dead, which are widely read by adults and younger readers, and are increasingly used in schools.
Besides these and other science fiction novels, Card writes contemporary fantasy (Magic Street, Enchantment, Lost Boys), biblical novels (Stone Tables, Rachel and Leah), the American frontier fantasy series Th
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More about Orson Scott Card...

Other Books in the Series

Elements of Fiction Writing (10 books)
  • Beginnings, Middles & Ends (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Conflict, Action and Suspense (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Description
  • Dialogue (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Manuscript Submission
  • Plot
  • Scene and Structure (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Setting: How to Create and Sustain a Sharp Sense of Time and Place in Your Fiction
  • Voice and Style
Ender's Game (The Ender Quintet, #1) Speaker for the Dead (The Ender Quintet, #2) Ender's Shadow (Ender's Shadow, #1) Xenocide (The Ender Quintet, #3) Children of the Mind (The Ender Quintet, #4)

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“readers tend to like a character who is at least superficially like themselves. But they quickly lose interest unless this particular character is somehow out of the ordinary. The character may wear the mask of the common man, but underneath his true face must always be the face of the hero.” 0 likes
“If there is no awe, there is no audience.” 0 likes
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