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Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors
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Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  451 ratings  ·  78 reviews
Proven techniques for creating vivid, believable characters

Want to bring characters to life on the page as vividly as fine actors do on the stage or screen? Getting into Character will give you a whole new way of thinking about your writing. Drawing on the Method acting theory that theater professionals have used for decades, this in-depth guide explains seven characteriz
Paperback, 224 pages
Published March 11th 2002 by Wiley (first published March 1st 2002)
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Average rating 4.15  · 
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Stefan Emunds
Nov 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
All stories are subjective. 100%. A good fiction author doesn't tell a story, he describes how characters react to situations, people, and things. Otherwise, he would describe his reaction to said situations, people, and things ;-) That's why the prime exercise of any fiction author is bringing his/her characters to life. This book tells you how to do that using seven (secret) principles derived from Stansislavsky's techniques of "method acting." The book is to the point, easy to digest, and com ...more
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-on-writing
Probably the best book about character that I've read. I liked the uniqueness of Collins' approach in borrowing from method actors, and her advice was both clearly explained (with plenteous use of examples) and also quite helpful! I learned a fair bit from her myself as a writer and now have a new book I'm planning on recommending to my writing students. If you're a fiction writer trying to study the art of character, this is a fine resource to utilize.

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Very Good).
Apr 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Quick review for a quick read. Oh, this was a good one. Very well organized and appropriate link to how writers can employ actor's techniques in helping them craft their fiction. I was fascinated by the premise of this book, so I took no hesitation in picking it up. The book revolves around describing seven techniques that actors use to convey their performances of character, and Brandilyn Collins expands on these techniques to show how writers can make their characters (and stories) more effect ...more
Jan 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
What I liked about "Getting into Character" is that the author breaks down what most books on writing leave vague. Brandilyn Collins provides examples of what she is trying to convey to authors on writing quality. These examples help set in and reconfirm her advice on writing techniques. The topic's provided in this book are unique; Coloring Passions, Inner Rhythm, Restraint and Control and Emotion Memory, these are my favorite topics from the book. Brandilyn Collins was able to hit on the mark ...more
Jan 22, 2010 rated it did not like it
Lacking in depth--

When I found this book, I was ecstatic because I had been meaning to study Stanislavsky's Method acting to enrich my fiction. I started reading it with gushing enthusiasm.

What a disappointment.

Granted, the author does offer some interesting advice, but over all, it is thoroughly disappointing for its lack of depth and complete failure to deliver what it promises (e.g. "Through releasing the sensations of your own experiences, emotion memory allows you a surprising glimpse into
Lee Howell
Jul 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I have just finished reading this book. Even though I bought it a while ago I wished that I had read it sooner. It gives clear and thoughtful explanations that help you easily understand what a good book should feature when written. It compares the lessons learned from actors and reports how a novelist can use these same lessons learnt successfully as features in their own writing. It shows you easily how you as a writer can train your self to incorporate these ideas by giving you easy technique ...more
Jun 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
A must read for novelists!

Thinking that actors are the cousins to writers was an interesting idea. There is so much to learn about writing from examining method acting. What I loved about the book was after she explained the particular secret, she gave different examples, *and* included a follow-up. So even if you missed the point in the example, she drove it home with her commentary afterward.

Best quote: Strong writing requires an intimate knowledge of humanity.

Connie Cockrell
Apr 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I saw this book mentioned on a blog over a year ago, sorry blogger, I don't remember which one, and added it to my Christmas wish list. Last December, hubby got it for me.

Getting Into Character, Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors seems, from the title, like a short read. Just seven secrets? Sure, I can read that in a day. Uh, not so much. The deceptively simple title covers an in-depth look at how Stanislavsky's techniques for method actors can be used by writers to create deeper, m
Dec 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
Excellent book on characterization. At the start of the chapter for each of the seven "secrets" there are two paragraphs: "Actor's Technique" and "Novelist's Adaption" and that provides a great roadmap for what you will learn in the chapter. Just really good instruction here with exercise and samples to make it all sink in. ...more
Adam Ross
Nov 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-writing
A great book that uses acting methods to explore the dimensions of your characters. As one who was a theater minor in college, this really helped me understand my characters.
Lauricia Matuska
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: writers, authors
Shelves: writing-how-to
Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors, by Brandilyn Collins, is not your average writing how-to resource. I began reading this book with the expectation that I would find basic ideas about character development. However, I was delighted to find that, while the book does deliver those ideas, it also does so much more.

Getting Into Character approaches character development through the system of Method Acting, a set of techniques formalized by Constantin Stanislavsk
Apr 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: hard-copy
Good book on craft that compares how actors prep for characters/ scenes and spelling out how novelists can use that technique to their advantage.

The application of the action objectives for each scene where the characters must have a very specific objective (not: I want to be/ have XYZ. Rather: I want to shake off my roommates from this line of questioning so that I can be alone and process what happened) was the most helpful.

The example shown: a hypochondriac character will behave very differe
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
A good look at creating greater depth not just in the creation of characters, but the portrayal of them, how they affect the plot and vice versa, and how to write stronger prose in general using the techniques originally best known to method actors.

I liked the multiple examples of actual texts (not just the authors own works but others also) for eachn and every 'secret' so you could best see how they were properly employed.
Debra Daniels-Zeller
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, writing
This is a great useful book with lots of exercises and examples that can give your characters more depth. My favorite sections include: subtexting and emotion memory. Each chapter open with an actor's technique and the novelist's adaptation, about using your own experience and accessing memories for story. Lots of great ideas in this little gem of a book. ...more
Tristen Ashchi
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Getting into character is valuable

I gave 4 stars because the book is very valuable in the knowledge, and the usefulness and digestibility of that knowledge. Only 4 because the book was a tough read at points, flowed brilliantly half of the time. It was just too easy to put this book down the other half.
Julia Garcia
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was privileged to hear this author speak at the StoryEmbers Authentic Character Summit webinar last month. This book was mentioned so I thought I'd pick it up.
The advice and admonishments within were so helpful and convicting. My brain is whirling with all of the information.
I can't wait to use what I've learned in this book and apply it to my own writings.
Peggy Miller
Oct 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hoorah for this guide!

I would recommend this Book To anyone Call himself a writer. Brandilyn Has provided invaluable insight into building your characters from flat to well rounded. She takes you step by step the create memorable people in your stories with feelings and you'll how to show. Not tell, and why they have them. Thank you!
Dave Smale
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Highly informative

Terrific use of method acting and how it translates to writing fiction. More than mere lessons on sentence structure and concise language, Collins truly causes the reader to introspect. I highly recommend this to all novelists, aspiring or multi-published.
Blossom Turner
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: completed
There is so much in this book for writers. A must read for any aspiring author. I especially loved the section on natural-sounding dialogue. I do think to get the most out of this book I will be reading and rereading.
Jill Willis
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ms. Collins draws a solid parallel between the characters actors portray and the characters novelists develop. Her advice to writers on how to round out characters is spot on. I recommend this book to all beginning fiction writers.
Laurel (Narnian)
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am definitely going to need to re-read this book so I can remember the lessons! I hope that other young writers (and not so young) read it too. :D It is awesome!
If you want to learn 7 ways how to make believable characters,
Mariposa Aristeo
Sep 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read this book after listening to Brandilyn’s talk at The Authentic Characters Summit, and I was not disappointed. This book is packed with great advice and examples and I’ve already started using several of the tips in my WIP.
Bradford Combs
Oct 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
I think this is a fantastic book on the topic of creating characters for your story or novel. Speaking as someone who struggles to read non-fiction, I was fully drawn into this book and will reference it for years to come whenever it comes time to create a new character in my stories.
Hannah Conway
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant! She's such a master at character development and weaving a story that pulls the reader in! ...more
Tim Suddeth
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great tips on how to deepen the characters in your story. The author uses good illustrations for each point. Very helpful and readable.
B.A. A. Mealer
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of those books all writers should read

This book is one of those writers should read every couple of years to refresh their memory on how to make your characters feel alive.
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is my first writing book in a long, long time and I could not be happier. Do much shit to use. I best get crackin.
Akhil Jain
Jul 25, 2019 marked it as to-read
Reco by RL Stine Masterclass
Kelley Rene
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book offers great tips on how to develop deeper characters, expounding on what makes an interesting character. It helped identify where and how I can improve as an author.
Jan 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Damn this was so refreshing to read and I learnt so much
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Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®--fast-paced, character-driven suspense with myriad twists and an interwoven thread of faith.

Brandilyn is also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons). She is a sought-after teacher and speaker at wr

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