Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Dynamic Characters and Effective Viewpoints
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Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Dynamic Characters and Effective Viewpoints (Write Great Fiction)

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  760 ratings  ·  74 reviews
Create Complex Characters

How do you create a main character readers won't forget? How do you write a book in multiple-third-person point of view without confusing your readers (or yourself)? How do you plant essential information about a character's past into a story?

Write Great Fiction: Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint by award-winning author Nancy Kress answers all of...more
Paperback, First Edition, 232 pages
Published March 15th 2005 by Writer's Digest Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,783)
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Jul 21, 2013 David rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: writers, especially head-hopping melodramatic writers
Eventually, reading books about how to write is just another way to put off writing. I've said before that I think I've exhausted what I can gain from such books, not because I'm now the best writer I can be (I'm not, or at least I hope I'm not) but because you have to learn by doing, not by reading about it.

That said, I begin to distinguish between writing advice books aimed at "beginning," "intermediate," and "advanced" writers. Though the latter is hypothetical - an "advanced" writer would pr...more
Colin Smith
As the title says, this is a craft book for writers giving helpful guidance on creating believable characters, using emotion effectively and in a way that helps build character and add to the story, and choosing the correct point of view for your story. Nancy Kress is a published author of both fiction and non-fiction.

The more craft books I read, the less often I find anything really new to offer in terms of tips and advice. Usually it's the same information in different dress. Sometimes I find...more
Don Incognito
This is a helpful book on creating character and one of the more helpful writing books I've read overall. As a writer, for some regrettable reason I have a hard time absorbing the lessons in writing books; this one actually reaches me somewhat. Excellent exercises. Writers should read it unless they've already read many books on character.
Lisa M
4.5*s This book is a bit weak on developing characters (see below), but strong on what to do with your characters once you develop them. Topics such as motivation, emotion, dialogue, point of view, etc. are covered.

If you're looking for examples of characters, try The Complete Writer's Guide to Heroes and Heroines or 45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters. There are a number of other similar books, but those are two that I'm familiar with.
Roya Shaban
اخيراً انتهيت منه

قراءت هذا الكتاب علي دفعات طويــــــله
هو كتاب جيد للاشخاص المهتمين بالكتابه
و يتضن افكار و ملاحظات و اشياء مهمه

حول صناعه الشخصية في الرواية
مع مجموعه من النمادخ و التطبيقات

يشبه كثيراً المنهج الدراسي لحد كبير
حتي انه في نهايه كل فصل يوجد بعد التدريبات للقراي ليمارسها

علي الرغم من ان فيه تكرار كثير

لكنه اعجبني نوع ما و جعلني انتبه للاشياء كثيرة

ربما اعود لبعض الملاحظات وانا اكتب رواياتي

علي كل حال لن اقوم بتقيمه
Debbie Johansson
I found this a very helpful book on characters, setting and explaining the differences with points of view. I wish I had read this book earlier as I could have saved myself a lot of hassle with re-writes. Now that I've read it, I will be working through the exercises within the book to improve my own writing. Highly recommended.
This book is part of the "Write Great Fiction" series, where a whole volume tackles a certain issue in writing. This book starts by identifying character types and strengthening them so they seem like real people. Some of the best advice I gleaned from this section was that you have to put everything about the character on the page, without overstating or making it read like pure description. The hardest thing for me in writing is realizing that no one knows what I know. I wrote a short story on...more
Need help with characters? I do. Since non-fiction is more my thing, I was hoping that this book would assist me with character development. It does! Author Nancy Kress makes good on her promise to provide “Techniques and exercises for crafting dynamic characters and effective viewpoints”.

The author of sixteen novels, Kress is well versed in what makes characters tick. From defining what readers want to putting it all together, she outlines everything needed to create compelling characters. She...more
Originally posted on

This book is part of the Write Great Fiction series. I bought the whole series a couple years ago at a great price and I've been working my way through them (life makes me a slow reader sometimes).

As the title states, this book is all about characters. Kress covers a lot of topics in this. From choosing and defining your characters, to properly expressing their emotions, to deciding what kind of point of view is best for your story.

What I l...more
Out of the entire write Great Fiction series, this may be my favorite. Nancy Kress reviews basic components of putting together a good story and gives great tips on not only creating three-dimensional characters, but on plotting a new story, writing style, and more. There are helpful exercises and further resources, and I would highly recommend it to any new writer, as well as old hands who are looking for fresh ideas to rejuvenate their words.
Palindrome Mordnilap
Some excellent material here for aspiring writers. The single greatest lesson it teaches is the importance of characters and how much they drive the plot of any successful story. All too often, writers (even published writers) treat their characters as secondary to the story, forgetting that it is generally the characters themselves that most readers will seek to identify with, love with or despise. It is the connection between a reader and a character that matters most, and Nancy Kress emphasis...more
Suzanne Mishkovski
This book, by Nancy Kress, was OK. Sure, it got me thinking about my characters but.. did it really do anything else?

I read the majority of it, occasionally skipped around. [I don't need to read about first person, I'm in third. I don't need to choose genre characters, it's literary.] It was helpful but... I just didn't care for it much.

And yet I find myself wanting to suggest it to people. There are some really good ideas in it, and true I am thinking about my characters differently. But I thin...more
Greg Scowen
I bought a copy of Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint very early into my writing career. I had a story I wanted to tell but no idea how one actually goes about doing it. Certainly, I had left high school with the feeling that I didn't have an artistic bone in my body. The whole Write Great Fiction series came to my rescue.

In this title, an author learns through example. The book is full of great tips, backgrounds on rules and why they are so, and examples of poor writing alongside improved vers...more
I think I'm going to end up liking this entire series. This book was slightly more obvious to me, but only because I've professionally studied literature for so long. However, one should never underestimate the need to read those tips that seem "obvious," at least as a reminder to 1)Remember what you're doing and 2)Realize that you know what you're doing (at least part of the time). I also learned about several aspects that I had never really considered, and I find these exercises perhaps even m...more
Ali Elle Morris
I learnt so much from this book and cannot recommend it highly enough. Any writer, especially new writer, who may be struggling with a few concepts, will benefit so much from the clarity this text brings.
Debra Daniels-zeller
I got this book from the library but I'm ready to buy my own copy. A great refrence for firction writers, this book has lots of information about crafting characters and point-of-view. Anything you want to know about creating three-diimensional characters is in this book. From introducing characters to character change, each chapter is broken up into sections for easy reading and refrence and ends with a number of exercises, to get the reader to think in depth about not just the main character,...more
3.5. Helpful. Contains a few very good insights. The exercises are certain to make characters more dynamic and believable.
Rebecca Schwarz
It's funny, Nancy Kress' stories don't always do it for me, but she knows her writing chops. I've gotten feedback that people don't always connect emotionally with the characters in my stories. After reading this book I have some specific ideas how to address this. The book benefits by not having to cover every aspect of writing (there are other books in this series on dialogue, plotting, description, etc.). I know of Nancy Kress because of her genre writing, and this book is definitely genre fr...more
This book was more textbook-like than most of the writing books I have, but I found it quite useful, even if it was slow reading (But not dry! The writing was entertaining.). The parts I found most useful were about using humor and emotion, and the differences between types of point of view. I often get confused between the various types of third person and omniscient, so it was nice to have it explained and see some examples. There are also writing exercises at the end of each section. I haven’...more
Great handbook for anyone who loves to write. I've read many how-to-write books and many of them seems quite basic, repeating the same concepts from different perspectives, but I found this one to deal with more complicate and subtle issues on how to make rounder characters (how to make contradictory emotions believable, etc.)

I've never read any of Nancy Kress's novels (I provably should), but this is the second handbook that I've read from her (the first being Beginnins, Middles and Ends), and...more
I'm so glad I stumbled upon the Write Great Fiction series at the public library. These books are especially helpful for beginning writers like myself. I've gained a better understanding of what it takes to create compelling characters. There were certain chapters that I would have liked to have been longer, such as the chapters on different point-of-views. If you're looking for a broad overview on what it takes to create characters, this definitely helps and provides much food for thought.
Zoe Scrivener
While Kress had some valuable ideas for characterization and viewpoint, I was quite disappointed by this book. The excerpts she chose to illustrate her point were often inappropriate, either indecently referencing sex or including the s-word or f-bomb. I got to the point where I was constantly skipping over the illustrations because I had no intention of reading such filth. Recommended for the nuggets of helpfulness, not recommended for content. Read with caution.
Quite a good explanation of the mentioned parts of the craft-- the author delves into the pros and cons of a lot of different techniques, with examples and points I hadn't thought of before. Definitely worth reading for the chapters on emotion. Although I skimmed through the viewpoint chapters and the exercises, I think it will be good to go back through and consider/do each as it's supposed to be considered/done. I enjoyed this a lot.
Jody Shee
This is a book to read before getting started writing a fiction novel. I had hoped to gain insight into how to develop great characters, emit emotion, and how to determine the viewpoint to use throughout the novel. I had read the book "Plot & Structure" by James Scott Bell before I read this one, and this was too light, compared to that. It just wasn't that helpful, and didn't say much that I couldn't have figured out myself.
After reading this you realize writing is a very inherent process at times. Some of the questions I had about characters were resolved, once I thought about them more in depth.

It's a great companion book and it teaches you basic rules about characters and the way they should react and behave to certain situations, but none of this information can help you if you have yet to really get to know your characters.

Dawn Turner
This book wasn't helpful for me. I prefer a book that gets right to the point, provides lot of examples, and doesn't beat around the bush at all or spend all kinds of time explaining things in vague terms. For someone who likes a softer, less direct approach (and quite possibly thinks/reasons very differently from me), this book might be a great reference. For me, it proved useless and it's going out the door.
This book focused a lot on characters, their background, what type of person they are, and their emotions. At least those were major points I found the most interesting. The exercises helped flesh out my characters and really instilled the fact that they are a majority of the story. A weak character can be the downfall of a potentially well-liked book. So, yeah. I got what I need out of this.
Wonderful book that explains a great deal about the writing process. Would make an excellent teaching book, too, as there are exercises in the back of each chapter. The author explains a topic, gives examples from other published books, recaps and has exercises. Very nicely done and this had to have taken a great deal of time to put together. Excellent tool!
Title's promise was delivered. This entire series was a great jumping off point for a beginning reader. This title in particular is clear to understand and the exercises provided at each chapter's end drive the points home.
It has improved my understanding of storytelling and characters, as a reader and budding writer.
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  • Description & Setting
  • Dialogue: Techniques and exercises for crafting effective dialogue
  • Revision & Self-Editing: Techniques for Transforming Your First Draft Into a Finished Novel
  • Scene and Structure (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Description
  • Plot
  • Characters and Viewpoint (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go
  • Conflict, Action and Suspense (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great
  • What Would Your Character Do?: Personality Quizzes for Analyzing Your Characters
  • Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time
  • The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
  • Story Structure Architect: A Writer's Guide to Building Dramatic Situations and Compelling Characters
  • Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors
  • The Writer's Guide to Character Traits: Includes Profiles of Human Behaviors and Personality Types
  • Bullies, Bastards & Bitches: How to Write the Bad Guys of Fiction
  • Complete Writer's Guide to Heroes and Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes
Nancy Kress is an American science fiction writer. She began writing in 1976 but has achieved her greatest notice since the publication of her Hugo and Nebula-winning 1991 novella Beggars in Spain which was later expanded into a novel with the same title. In addition to her novels, Kress has written numerous short stories and is a regular columnist for Writer's Digest. She is a regular at Clarion...more
More about Nancy Kress...
Beggars in Spain (Sleepless, #1) Beggars and Choosers (Sleepless, #2) Beginnings, Middles & Ends (Elements of Fiction Writing) Beggars Ride (Sleepless, #3) After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall

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