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Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Dynamic Characters and Effective Viewpoints

(Write Great Fiction)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  1,983 ratings  ·  186 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 the
Paperback, First Edition, 232 pages
Published March 15th 2005 by Writer's Digest Books
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Average rating 4.03  · 
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 ·  1,983 ratings  ·  186 reviews

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Apr 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
At first this book seemed like a regurgitation of basic things I already knew. But I hung in there and learned a lot. I'd advise any aspiring author to do the same. ...more
Mar 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Characters emotions and viewpoints⭐️
Every time I pick up a new writing book I learned something different or get some other insightful tips. What I liked most about this one is that it had a lot of exercises to do writing exercises that is. So I mark them off so that way when I am stuck or I need help or I just want some thing to keep my mind writing I can’t flip to it quickly. I recommend picking up this book I enjoyed it.
Max Mulholland
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An outstanding collection of explanations, examples, & exercises to improve your writing by focusing on character development. I've learned a lot from this book and I am busy applying it to my own writing. I highly recommend it to new and emerging writers. This book will be staying on my reference shelf-or more likely, open on my desk-for some time to come. ...more
Meghal Bhatt
Jun 02, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: not-for-me
Boring and repetitive. Better books out there.
Joy Pixley
Mar 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I found this book to be very useful at helping me work through some issues with the characters in my novel. The relatively narrow focus means Kress can delve deeply into each of the issues she covers. The first seven chapters are about deciding and showing who your characters are, including how their outer presentation might not match their inner thoughts, and how they might (or might not) change over the course of the book. I appreciated the level of detail here. I thought I had a pretty good h ...more
Colin Smith
Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Mary Catelli
Sep 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: how-to-write
A how-to-write book. Covering exactly the topics described in the title.

Goes into all sort of aspects, Like complicated motives, character change, the different types of POV (first, third, omniscient, epistolary), humorous characters and how they differ from the usual rules, what you need to know about the character's background in order to write, the complications that you have view the character as the reader will, the importance of putting attitude into the description, and more.
Don Incognito
Feb 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Jan 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I've not much to say about this book as I was reading it in a bit of a hurry as it was borrowed, but I've lots of notes. ...more
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very useful and will keep in handy while out long my book series.
Bernie Gourley
Oct 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: writers wanting insight into improving character development.
This book is about how to write characters with sufficient depth that readers will follow them through to the end of a story. As the title suggests, there are three major components to the book: character building, emotional considerations, and point of view. A story requires a character who needs or wants something and faces barriers to that goal. The character has to be someone that the reader is interested in seeing through a process that involves inching toward a goal while being repeatedly ...more
Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Dynamic Characters and Effective Viewpoints (Write Great Fiction)
by Nancy Kress

This book is very similar to the author’s Dynamic Characters: How to Create Personalities That Keep Readers Captivated - some of the text is word for word.

This books covers more topics and has writing exercises at the end of each chapter. The book is written with very specific and helpful advice about the craft of writing and contains many examples
Aug 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
I found this book to be about as helpful as Orson Scott Card's Characters and Viewpoint, but more in depth. If you aren't a beginner, some of it is a refresher, but there are things I hadn't learned about before. In 16 chapters and three sections, Kress covers types of characters, introducing characters, characters' genuine selves, character motivation, character change, protagonists in genre fiction, and humorous characters. As for emotion, she talks about dialogue and thoughts, emotions throug ...more
Lisa M
Mar 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing, 2010
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
Debbie Johansson
Feb 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Amanda Patterson
Dec 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Excellent reference book for fiction writers. Most first time novelists don't realise how important viewpoint is. And characters. Everyone starts writing a novel without knowing who the baddie is - that's why they can't finish it.Great book. Highly recommended. ...more
Jonathan Peto
Dec 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book got me thinking about my writing even when the focus was old hat. What more could I ask for?
May 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Even though some of the things in here were already known to me this was still a big help. Love the exercises!
Anthony Vicino
Dec 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I've read on viewpoint. Character and emotion stuff was also very good. ...more
Doree Weller
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
People always complain that my characters are "gray," and even though I have good stories, character is the heart, and if I'm not getting that right, no one but people who love me are going to want to read my story. It's been frustrating to me because although I want to do what my critique group tells me to and give my characters more agency, I haven't seen how to do it, and trial and error wasn't working for me.

This book gives concrete examples on how to make characters more dynamic, and I fina
Patrick DiJusto
Oct 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
Remember that scene in the movie Amadeus, where Antonio Salieri complains to the priest about how badly God has treated him and his music? I feel somewhat the same way about writing fiction: "All I wanted was to write science fiction. Why did God implant the desire? Like a lust in my body! And then deny me the talent?"

So I read books like this one, which gives good, solid advice on how to develop believable fictional characters and how to place them in the right fictional situations. The advice
Ryan Patrick
May 26, 2020 rated it it was ok
I feel like I learned more about creating good characters in the Plot book in this series (Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish) than I did in this book, but otherwise it was fine - not amazing, but fine. ...more
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing, nonfiction
Great book with lots of information I loved the recap feature at the end of each chapter. Some of the sections weren’t especially useful, such as the omniscient POV section. Parts of it were slow, not because of bad writing but because of dense information. Also a few rare times the author explained a rule as it applied to a particular passage rather than in more universal terms. It still made sense but made taking notes challenging.
A. R.
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing-craft
This book is filled with ideas on how to create characters and tell their story in an easy to follow detailed manner. Kress gives many examples and exercises to help the writer learn to sharpen their skills. There is so much to consider when reading this book. I recommend taking your time and working on your writing at the same time implementing the ideas presented.
R.J. Sorrento
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very helpful guide. A resource I’ve tabbed and will revisit. My only qualm is I wanted more detail particularly regarding character emotions. Great overview, however, and the POV chapters are worth the price alone. I also appreciated her advice for writers and how not to become the “critic” of your own work early on in the process of writing.
Lee Linderman
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Sections of this book reminded me of Donald Haass's book on emotion, with more emphasis on what to keep in mind during initial drafts instead of rewrites. The section on POV is well conceived - Kress devotes far more attention to the nuances between and among POV possibilities than most books on craft. This is a book I will be returning to throughout the drafting process. ...more
Ulrike Hill
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Highly recommended

Many writers do not understand how to develop characters or which viewpoint is suitable for their story. An in-depth look at characterisation and POV. A must-read for any pre-published author.
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
This is an excellent resource for any fiction writer. Well written, great use of organization and examples. I read it straight through and will likely go back to various chapters again and again in the future.
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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 Clar ...more

Other books in the series

Write Great Fiction (5 books)
  • Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish
  • Dialogue: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Effective Dialogue (Write Great Fiction)
  • Description & Setting
  • Revision & Self-Editing: Techniques for Transforming Your First Draft Into a Finished Novel

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