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Breathing Life Into Your Characters: How to Give Your Characters Emotional and Psychological Depth
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Breathing Life Into Your Characters: How to Give Your Characters Emotional and Psychological Depth

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  191 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Create Convincing Characters That Readers--and Editors--Can't Resist!It's the question that eternally plagues all good writers: How can you describe the thoughts and feelings of characters who have backgrounds or psychological aberrations with which you have no personal experience?

How can you describe the feelings of a drug addict if you've never been one? How can you writ
Paperback, 242 pages
Published March 29th 2009 by Writer's Digest Books (first published October 21st 2003)
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3.80  · 
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 ·  191 ratings  ·  17 reviews

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May 20, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Uggg, this is going to be hard to review.

I do not want to be overly hard on this, but I really cannot give this book anything above "it was ok" for a rating. It really proved to be of limited value for the purpose I was reading it (attempting to add depth to Non-Player Characters in a role play game), and seemed to lack many insights for writing overall. Ballon uses a repetitive style to kind of bludgeon her points home, but I did not see them as original or all that helpful.

The tactics are not
Apr 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-writing
Creating characters based on psychology sounds like an interesting premise, but Ballon's theory is that to truly connect with a character you must connect with your own emotions. Many of her exercises have the reader asking themselves how they feel and memories to arouse certain situations.

You're either going to buy the idea that to create fully fleshed characters you need to be one with your emotions or you're going to believe the whole concept to be hokey.

I kept a middle of the road approach,
Leena Chandan
Well crafted book for fiction writers especially those facing procrastination
Sep 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, writing
There's a lot of very good thought-provoking material in this book, but I had a difficult time moving through it because the approach taken is to first look at oneself and the experiences we've had in our lives, write them down so that we can immerse ourselves in the sensory details of that experience, and then apply the same technique to a character we're creating. How we wrote about ourselves is how we need to let our character write about him- or herself.

I think it would be a very helpful res
Feb 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, writer-reads
I took my time with this one and should probably go through it again. It reads like an overview on Psychology — call it Psych 101 — and less like a book on writing. That is precisely what I was looking for.

There are exercises throughout the book, none of which I followed. But they are there. Perhaps on a second pass.

What I really wanted from a book like this was the idea of melding dialogue with subtext, emotions and mannerisms, and ideas on the escalation of a psychological issue along with all
Disorganized, humorless and vapid. Author writes in a near stream-of-consciousness, repeats herself, meanders around unrelated topics. She seems to have a hang-up about weight and keeps working it into analogies. 'Woman wants to lose weight, she easily loses a massive amount of weight by 'not eating candy', she finds love and is happy.' This is meant to be an example of good plotting that really delves into the character's psychology. Sub-101 information on both psychology and writing but any ot ...more
As a fiction writer, I'm charged with creating characters that my audience will enjoy. Ballon's book takes writers thru the process of creating well-rounded characters using various psychological techniques. She describes lots of ways to make quirky, real characters by allowing yourself to examine them as they interact the real world. This books has lots of exercises and does get into how to make villians (shadow characters) as well. It was a good read and I'll be using many techniques in my own ...more
Monica Rodriguez
Dec 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing, psychology
Breathing Life into Your Characters has been a terrific help to me in improving my WIP (work in progress). The information was laid out clearly with great examples, and exercises followed every section so you could try out what you just learned. To the very end I was returning to my manuscript to use what I had learned. Without a doubt, my characters will be fuller, more real creations because of Ballon's book.
Jason Koivu
Dec 31, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: how-to, writing
Ballon's book is almost more about psychology than writing, which was what I was looking for. The need to add detail to layer your fictional creations is driven home time and fact, once or twice I thought I was rereading the same chapter. I don't know that this book is what every writer needs, but as long as what you're writing includes human characters, reading it can only be an asset.
Linda Leon
Jan 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best books I have read on character developement. Her style is rather repetitive but I think she does that to nail in her concepts. What I liked about the book is that she teaches the importance of analyzing your character as if you were doing a psychological profile - like you were a detective or being involved in criminal investigations. When I read the chapter on creating the evil/bad guy protagonist I could literally feel chills. Would recommend.
Mar 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This reference book offers so much great insight when it comes to character development, and I highly recommend it. The author has a PH.D and is a psychotherapist, what more credentials could you ask for; it's the equivalent of getting advice on writing from a "New York Times Best Selling Author". Invest in it.
Apr 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the two best books that I've read on character development for writers.
Kay Honeyman
Jun 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book goes way beyond the normal character development strategies. The author is a psychotherapist who consults with authors. She has many valuable insights!
Apr 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-nonfiction
Great book to get into your character's head when writing.
Kevin J.
May 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: profession
Great book on the Psychology of humans, a must have for any writer!
Jul 22, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not comprehensive but with some strong points, especially the sections on psychological and personality disorders.
Cynthia Sims
Jan 24, 2010 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
A friend just gave me a boatload of encouraging writing books. I could cry. Ask if you want to borrow any.
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