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The Writer's Guide to Character Traits: Includes Profiles of Human Behaviors and Personality Types

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3.84  ·  Rating Details  ·  862 Ratings  ·  73 Reviews
From serial killers to business tycoons to politicians, "The Writer's Guide to Character Traits" profiles the mental, emotional and physical qualities of dozens of different personality types. Featuring a highly accessible format, writers can mix and match the traits of specific personality types to create original, complex characters. Unique personality styles and types a ...more
Hardcover, 331 pages
Published October 15th 1999 by Writer's Digest Books (first published 1999)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,510)
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Rachel
Feb 18, 2013 Rachel marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
Stereotypes exist for a reason; usually, because there's an element of truth to them. With The Writer's Guide to Character Traits, psychologist-professor Linda Edelstein has created a kind of Psych 101 for Writers. Her goal is a "friendly reference" for writers who want "to create believable characters and need accurate information about personality and behavior." Sure, disparage it if you like. But wouldn't you like to know which of your protagonist's offspring is most predisposed to warming up ...more
Kelly H. (Maybedog)
This was a good idea but completely useless. Nothing went into enough depth to be useful, but the biggest problem is that although it was written in 1999, most of the sources used were already out of date and obsolete then. She uses Masters & Johnson from the 60's for information about homsexuality. Info about BDSM comes from a book written in 1964 when it was still considered a bizarre thing only freaks did. Seriously? Research as shown that as many as 70% of women claim to participate in B ...more
Theodora
Mar 27, 2008 Theodora rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who love canned characters
Recommended to Theodora by: on the shelf at the writers' colony
Shelves: books08, writing
This book really stunk.
Kathy Davie
Mar 10, 2015 Kathy Davie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, non-fiction
Edelstein calls this "a crash course in psychology for writers with information about personality and behavior to create believable and authentic characters".

My Take
I liked the differentiation Edelstein offers between character and traits. A good difference to keep in mind when creating your character while reminding the reader, er, I mean, the writer---you, that these groupings are not set in stone.

"Dorothy Parker was right: 'People are more fun than anybody.'"


While Edelstein remembers once in
...more
Josette
Aug 16, 2010 Josette marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I've read only portions of this book, but it's not exactly the type of book you can read cover-to-cover. This book is good as a reference tool for writers, because it lists personality traits and disorders that various classifications of people have, which can help writers make their characters more believable. So far I've been disappointed with the amount of information the author lists. I'm sure there's only so much a journeyed psychiatrist can include in a book that covers character traits of ...more
Hunter
Aug 02, 2012 Hunter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fiction writers
Shelves: writing
Good reference tool for creating more indepth characters, giving the writer the ability to think about the character's childhood influences and personality traits which define their actions and reactions today. Bullet-pointed and indexed to help with selection.

Naturally, there could be 200, 300 maybe 500% more careers, traits or disorders that could have been listed here, but these are good starter subjects for pointing you to where you may like to explore.

My copy was borrowed from the local l
...more
Melannie
Feb 06, 2016 Melannie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, for a book published in 2004 it's certainly out of date and disgusting.

The section about mental disorders (and the questionably separate section about eating disorders) perpetuate basic stereotypes, and the paragraph-list on the habits of homosexual teenagers left many an eyebrow quirked.

In addition, the information is not synthesized or nicely put into a paragraph format for easy digestion. Instead it leaves bare-bones lists with little elaboration on the topics mentioned, as well as no ex
...more
A. Roy King
Apr 09, 2016 A. Roy King rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing, nonfiction
This "Writer's Guide to Character Traits" is a useful reference created by professional psychologist Linda N. Edelstein. Much food for thought here to help the fiction author add depth to characters.

Particularly useful is Chapter 2, "Adult Personality Types," which outlines the traits and interpersonal attributes of 23 personality types, such as the Adventurer, the Boss, the Conformist, the Dependent, the Eccentric, the Fall Guy or Girl, the Loner, the Man's Man, and the Ultra-Feminine.

I read ma
...more
Rae
This book is more of a quick reference or jumping off point than an in-depth look. There's many lists and charts which make looking up aspects of a condition or disorder easy. Childhood and adolescence are covered as well as adulthood. In addition to various disorders and conditions the book covers group dynamics as well as body language and nonverbal cues. These sections make handy cheat sheets for any writer.

While many conditions and disorders are covered, none are covered in depth. However th
...more
Hey_jude
This book is perfect for any writer, and is by far the best character reference book I have stumbled upon. Inside are detailed chapters of all types of character traits plus numerous writing exercises that will help get into the mind of said character. I've never been so engrossed! A definite read for anyone who wants to create well rounded, eccentric characters instead of cardboard cutouts.
Michael Burton
Dec 11, 2014 Michael Burton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great reference for writers looking to study personality traits. For those that complain about "Canned Characters" I say you didn't get the point of this book at all--stereotypes exist for a reason, and you, as the writer, choose whether to stick to a stereotype, break it completely, or find the gray area in between (which is probably the most interesting way to go). This book helps you identify the types of people and backgrounds that lead to certain traits so you can understand what you are ...more
April Brown
Several stereotypes, not all correct.

A few good points in some places.

Looking forward to the publication of The BookShelf Muse.
Tom Bane
Jan 25, 2013 Tom Bane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Invaluable book for writers, I'll write a full review later...
MCalhen
Jun 17, 2013 MCalhen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book can help people figure out what they ought to research next in other books. And then people should find better books and references, because this is merely a guide. I see no issue in marking down a path of research if this is used like a roadmap. I give credit to books which leave you thinking, but aside from doing that, it relies too much on stereotypes, and it makes some outlandish claims.

I was particularly rankled with chapter six above anything else. Namely:

"Sadomasochistic sex i
...more
Kathy Davie
Jul 01, 2013 Kathy Davie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Edelstein calls this "a crash course in psychology for writers with information about personality and behavior to create believable and authentic characters".

My Take
I liked the differentiation Edelstein offers between character and traits. A good difference to keep in mind when creating your character while reminding the reader, er, I mean, the writer---you, that these groupings are not set in stone.

"Dorothy Parker was right: 'People are more fun than anybody.'"


While Edelstein remembers once in
...more
Hikaru
This book is a decent starting point for further research into different things...but some of the things are severely outdated ("multiple personality disorder" hasn't been used to refer to dissociative identity disorder for years now; it's well known that parenting style has nothing to do with what orientation your kid will have), and some of the sources are from the 50s and 60s--surely psychological protocols and diagnostic criteria has changed since then...

It does the job of providing a jumpin
...more
Jacob
This book contains a lot of lists, which shouldn't be a huge surprise (it's about what kinds of traits go with different kinds of people). It's not too hard to read straight through, but it really is designed primarily as a reference for those who want to write characters. I suspect it would make a pretty good idea generator for making an author fill in a bit more backstory for their characters, and should result in those characters being more realistic (and interesting).

The author is a therapis
...more
Heather Terry
May 20, 2016 Heather Terry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every writer should have this on their shelf! It is a research-based character trait analysis of personality types, behaviors, and so much more. While care must be taken not to create stereotypical characters (an urging Edelstein offers in her introduction), it can help authors create believable and well-formed characters.
Adrienne
I really enjoyed reading this book. I am interested in psychology and why humans behave the way that they do, and this book was a fascinating read....and it had writing prompts too! A great place for ideas on how to make your character unique and to find out his or her motivations from a psychological standpoint. Loved it!
B.A. Brock
Oct 25, 2015 B.A. Brock rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: research
Good book for nuts and bolts of character types. Maybe a bit outdated, but then I noticed I have an older edition? The stuff on transgender peoples, and some of the other information, seemed wrong from my experience, but then again, this was probably compiled from stuffy psychology text books.
Paul Raymer
Dec 28, 2014 Paul Raymer rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Background writer's reference
Shelves: books-on-writing
This book resides on my reference shelf, not read cover to cover, but useful in pulling highlights together particularly on issues like the development of a team psychology and a turn of events.
Angelina.horst
Somewhat helpful as a reference, but much of what I looked up (for instance, character traits of an adopted character) didn't add much to what I would have already guessed on my own.
Andi Dobek
Jun 04, 2012 Andi Dobek rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves:
This book is an absolute MUST HAVE for any serious writer. The author gives you details about every type of person and how they will act based on different environmental or biological factors, from how a middle child in a family will behave (with or without his parents divorced) to a person who is a serial killer, to how a rape victim may or may not cope...pretty soon you will realize, everyone in life is a character in some form or another, and there really is no such thing as "normal". This bo ...more
Marcia Martins
It's help to develop your character but it's not enough.
Julie theriault
I've read this book more than once I love it
Tara
Dr. Edelstein's book is well written and provides multiple methods for looking up the information she's provided. It really is an excellent resource.
Taylor
Feb 11, 2016 Taylor rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing-guides
Having personal experience with autism, this author's guide to the subject made me cringe.

Please, if you are interested in writing about autism, find a better source. Preferably one written by someone who is actually autistic. Temple Grandin has many fantastic books: "Thinking in Pictures", "The Autistic Brain", or "The Way I See It". There's also John Elder Robison's "Look Me In The Eye" and Naoki Higashida's "The Reason I Jump".

Given this entry, I'm afraid to take seriously her entries on diso
...more
Jessica
Jun 06, 2015 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty helpful, a bit textbook-y.
Triv S.
Jan 31, 2015 Triv S. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing-guide
Really helpful guide and resource!
Jacqui
I found this book difficult to use. I wanted to find traits for, say, a salesman. I've done sales so I have a general idea, but wanted a thorough discussion. The discussion is brief (about 11 bullets) and included as one of 42 careers the author discusses. No career for 'military', 'researcher', 'teenager' or 'home maker'--all careers of people in my upcoming novels.

I recognize this may be an expectation I placed on the book which was never the author's intent to fulfill. I share it so no one e
...more
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