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The Art of Character: Creating Memorable Characters for Fiction, Film, and TV

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Former private investigator and New York Times notable author David Corbett offers a unique and indispensable toolkit for creating characters that come vividly to life on the page and linger in memory. Corbett provides an inventive, inspiring, and vastly entertaining blueprint to all the elements of characterization-from initial inspiration to realization-with special insi Former private investigator and New York Times notable author David Corbett offers a unique and indispensable toolkit for creating characters that come vividly to life on the page and linger in memory. Corbett provides an inventive, inspiring, and vastly entertaining blueprint to all the elements of characterization-from initial inspiration to realization-with special insights into the power of secrets and contradictions, the embodiment of roles, managing the "tyranny of motive," and mastering crucial techniques required for memorable dialogue and unforgettable scenes. This is a how-to guide for both aspiring and accomplished writers that renders all other books of its kind obsolete.


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Former private investigator and New York Times notable author David Corbett offers a unique and indispensable toolkit for creating characters that come vividly to life on the page and linger in memory. Corbett provides an inventive, inspiring, and vastly entertaining blueprint to all the elements of characterization-from initial inspiration to realization-with special insi Former private investigator and New York Times notable author David Corbett offers a unique and indispensable toolkit for creating characters that come vividly to life on the page and linger in memory. Corbett provides an inventive, inspiring, and vastly entertaining blueprint to all the elements of characterization-from initial inspiration to realization-with special insights into the power of secrets and contradictions, the embodiment of roles, managing the "tyranny of motive," and mastering crucial techniques required for memorable dialogue and unforgettable scenes. This is a how-to guide for both aspiring and accomplished writers that renders all other books of its kind obsolete.

30 review for The Art of Character: Creating Memorable Characters for Fiction, Film, and TV

  1. 4 out of 5

    Spencer Orey

    There's a ton of info here for anyone who wants to write better characters. I know I'll be coming back to this one a lot in revisions, trying to strengthen and imagine characters in different ways. Each chapter is pretty short and targeted, to make it easier to use as a tool kit. For some reason, the examples from literature and film all fell totally flat with me. None of them felt inspiring or particularly interesting. They were simply examples, and they each showed a point. I guess that's good There's a ton of info here for anyone who wants to write better characters. I know I'll be coming back to this one a lot in revisions, trying to strengthen and imagine characters in different ways. Each chapter is pretty short and targeted, to make it easier to use as a tool kit. For some reason, the examples from literature and film all fell totally flat with me. None of them felt inspiring or particularly interesting. They were simply examples, and they each showed a point. I guess that's good? I'm not sure. But as a how to write better book, this is helpful.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rose

    Pre-read thoughts: Yet another book I randomly bought from my university's bookstore (and yeah I've splurge spent on a number of fiction reads and writing guides in recent weeks). I'll probably be using it quite soon because I'm trying to re-examine some of my characters from my WIPs. Hope it turns out worth the read and buy. Post read thoughts: Worth every penny. I'm definitely going to be revisiting this guide more often. What I liked about it was that the book constructively examines aspects o Pre-read thoughts: Yet another book I randomly bought from my university's bookstore (and yeah I've splurge spent on a number of fiction reads and writing guides in recent weeks). I'll probably be using it quite soon because I'm trying to re-examine some of my characters from my WIPs. Hope it turns out worth the read and buy. Post read thoughts: Worth every penny. I'm definitely going to be revisiting this guide more often. What I liked about it was that the book constructively examines aspects of character motivation, conflict, internal rationale, among other dimensions to make it possible to delve into a deeper POV set. There were exercises at the end of each chapter to not only look into your own experiences as a guide for character (because people are the characters of their own stories), but also active exercises to refer to and examine in your own WIPs. I liked that the examples given from multiple sources of media were plausible and great examples, but it may be limiting for some depending on whether or not you've watched/perused that show or series. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this and I will be using it as an active guide. I would highly recommend it for anyone who want to develop their characters more in their stories.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte Morganti

    David Corbett’s recent book, The Art of Character, is hanging out, not on the shelves with the other book on the craft of writing, but on my desk, an easy grab-distance away. Why? Well, frankly, I was getting tired of the trips to the bookcase. I’ll bet I put a few miles on the old slippers daily, checking out what he has to say on the subject of character. Because Mr. Corbett is an accomplished writer and teacher, and because he’s obviously a student of the craft of fiction and of characterizati David Corbett’s recent book, The Art of Character, is hanging out, not on the shelves with the other book on the craft of writing, but on my desk, an easy grab-distance away. Why? Well, frankly, I was getting tired of the trips to the bookcase. I’ll bet I put a few miles on the old slippers daily, checking out what he has to say on the subject of character. Because Mr. Corbett is an accomplished writer and teacher, and because he’s obviously a student of the craft of fiction and of characterization, there’s a lot that’s great about The Art of Character. Let me tell you four of the greatest elements: 1. You can read the book your way Definitely, you can read this book in an orderly fashion from start to finish, which is fine if you are in “learn the craft” mode. But, because Mr. Corbett has organized his presentation well, you can also pick your sections based on your own preferences or needs. This is a fantastic element if, like me, you are often in “help, I need specific help” mode. Whichever approach to the book you decide to take, you’ll find enlightening and practical discussions about topics such as scenes, protagonists (and thankfully, how to solve problems with them), antagonists, point of view, dialogue, and conflict. 2. The army of secondary characters Most of us have several secondary characters in our stories. In The Art of Character Mr. Corbett analyzes the roles that those secondary characters can, or should, play in order to strengthen your work. Roles such as the crucial ally, the betrayer, the village, the stranger, the ghost. Understanding those roles and reviewing your manuscript with them in mind is an eye-opening, jaw-dropping experience. At least it was for me. 3. Helpful examples Mr. Corbett illustrates the principles discussed in The Art of Character with examples from books and films that you are likely to recognize. For me, concrete examples help me understand the technique or lesson and to analyze how I might utilize it in my writing. 4. Exercises At the end of every chapter there are exercises to help you apply the principles discussed. The great thing about these exercises are that they permit you to focus on your work in progress, so that in addition to working on the technique in question, you are able to move your own project forward. Always a good thing. The Art of Character is a worthwhile addition to every writer’s toolbox.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mark Stevens

    To anyone out there crafting the next best-seller for the waiting universe of hungry readers, stop your clacking keyboard for a few hours and read "The Art of Character." David Corbett makes a convincing case that all fiction starts with developing the right character and giving that character the right traits, issues, background, history and depth. Corbett’s standards are high and his examples are strong and diverse, from movies to the stage to novels. His references run the gamut, from Patricia To anyone out there crafting the next best-seller for the waiting universe of hungry readers, stop your clacking keyboard for a few hours and read "The Art of Character." David Corbett makes a convincing case that all fiction starts with developing the right character and giving that character the right traits, issues, background, history and depth. Corbett’s standards are high and his examples are strong and diverse, from movies to the stage to novels. His references run the gamut, from Patricia Highsmith, Jim Harrison, Cormac McCarthy, Elmore Leonard and Joseph Conrad to "The Godfather," "Michael Clayton" and "Slumdog Millionaire." Corbett occasionally points out what doesn’t work (and frankly, I wish there was more examples of why some stories or movies fall flat). Corbett urges writers to conduct an “unflinching” analysis of their own identity to understand their characters. He wants scenes that allow characters to meaningfully engage characters in conflict with each other and recommends character biographies created from scenes over the traditional inventory-based approach. And he shows you how to develop an intuitive grasp of your character by understanding moments of profound emotional impact—shame, fear, pride, regret, forgiveness. "The Art of Character" is a toolkit and my copy is heavily marked-up with pages and paragraphs that resonate. Corbett’s style is breezy and conversational. One of the most interesting sections is “The Army of Others: Secondary Characters,” including Corbett’s detailed description of the role he calls “The Revenant,” the character in successful stories who forces the protagonist to work through her issues, particularly her biggest fears. “A hero may grow purely from the pressure of external events, but it’s doubtful she can transform, moving beyond a previous flaw or limitation, without the challenging or supportive scrutiny of another person. We don’t know ourselves by ourselves, as the saying goes, and it’s no less true of fiction than real life.” Put "The Art of Character" on your shelf of books about writing. If you’re stuck, browse for a few minutes and try out one of the exercises. I doubt you’ll be stuck for long.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Devyn Price

    If I were teaching a class in writing, this would be a required text. This book contains everything from the thoughtful to the practical. I can see myself combing through this book over and over again with every work I begin.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    I never imagined I'd read a writing craft book that would make me sad, but this book did exactly that. A very strange thing to say, I know. I'm as surprised as you are. But let me drop a few quotes from the text and maybe you'll understand why: "Death transforms us by forcing us to reshape our wants, our identities, our lives in the face of inescapable disconnection." "Vulnerability reacquaints us with what Camus describes as the 'benign indifference of the universe,' and our relative insignifican I never imagined I'd read a writing craft book that would make me sad, but this book did exactly that. A very strange thing to say, I know. I'm as surprised as you are. But let me drop a few quotes from the text and maybe you'll understand why: "Death transforms us by forcing us to reshape our wants, our identities, our lives in the face of inescapable disconnection." "Vulnerability reacquaints us with what Camus describes as the 'benign indifference of the universe,' and our relative insignificance in the scheme of things." "Our pains, sorrows, miscues, and wrongs misshape us, disfiguring our spirits, our hearts, our consciences. We become brittle, self-protective, mistaken, false. We unknowingly chase the ghost of our past through the labyrinth of our days." "Every notion of mankind that conjectures immutable laws of behavior... stumbles over the idea of freedom. If everything is already predetermined-same as it ever was-how can our indecision, our anxiety, our planning, our choices be anything but illusion, the drama of our ignorance?" ...I came here for writing advice, not an existential crisis. To be fair, there was some genuinely useful content in this book, as well as discussions of things I already knew, but which were good refreshers nonetheless. I particularly liked the bits about The Revenant, The Ghost, The Counterweight, etc. It's an undeniably thorough book too, and Corbett is always sure to include references to other works of literature/films to illustrate his points. Every chapter ends with a couple of different writing exercises for you to try if you find those sorts of things helpful. To be perfectly honest, however, any inspiration I might have gotten from reading this was immediately snuffed out by how oddly hollow this book made me feel. I doubt every reader will be bothered by this, and most might not even notice it at all. Heck, maybe an argument could even be made that such inclusions are necessary for a book that aims to thoroughly examine characterization, I don't know - I just know it wasn't my cup of tea. Thankfully, I annotated this so the next time I want to reference anything in here I can skip the unnecessarily depressing bits and go straight for the pertinent stuff.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ali M.

    Incredibly helpful. The first two chapters had me worried that this was going to be more of an abstract treatise than a practical guide (Corbett's prose can sound a bit pretentious off the bat), but as I got further in I started scrutinizing my own characters so much that the margins were soon overflowing with hasty scribbles. I even filled up the four blank pages in the back of the book with walls of text – I just had to think things through with a pen. Certain sections made me panic a bit too Incredibly helpful. The first two chapters had me worried that this was going to be more of an abstract treatise than a practical guide (Corbett's prose can sound a bit pretentious off the bat), but as I got further in I started scrutinizing my own characters so much that the margins were soon overflowing with hasty scribbles. I even filled up the four blank pages in the back of the book with walls of text – I just had to think things through with a pen. Certain sections made me panic a bit too much: I would think "Oh no! My story is missing this KEY ELEMENT" only to realize that yes, that element exists, I'd just forgotten about it – or failed to draw it out. But that's what made the book so invaluable: it really forced me to step back and assess things as objectively as possible (even though I know that's always an oxymoron when you're talking about your own work). Since so much of the character building process comes from understanding how people tick, Corbett naturally delves into some more philosophical questions about human nature, and I found myself appreciating his point of view more often than not. I especially liked what he had to say about politics, religion, and the other hot-button issues that so commonly tangle people up, but are an inescapable part of who we are and why we behave the way we do. Judging the antagonists in your story prevents you from understanding them (as in life), and turns them into caricatures – you need to be willing to see the world through their eyes, as abhorrent as their actions or viewpoint might be to you. As Chesterton put it: "A good novel tells us the truth about people; a bad novel tells us the truth about its author." Each chapter ends with a series of exercises, some of which were more helpful than others. But I definitely intend to return to a few of them once I'm in the revision stages of my own beastly manuscript (God help me).

  8. 5 out of 5

    Peter Lewis

    I've been a fan of David Corbett since reading Blood of Paradise, and subsequently Do They Know I'm Running? and Done For a Dime. Each of these books is notable for the depth and vibrancy of the characters, who typically inhabit a dark, desperate and violent world. So, it was with great eagerness that I bought "The Art of Character," which ought to be a standard reference work for any writer, screenwriter or playwright. I've also noticed that "The Art of Character" has affected my reading, as no I've been a fan of David Corbett since reading Blood of Paradise, and subsequently Do They Know I'm Running? and Done For a Dime. Each of these books is notable for the depth and vibrancy of the characters, who typically inhabit a dark, desperate and violent world. So, it was with great eagerness that I bought "The Art of Character," which ought to be a standard reference work for any writer, screenwriter or playwright. I've also noticed that "The Art of Character" has affected my reading, as now I can't embrace new characters in fiction -- or even nonfiction -- without measuring them against Corbett's standards. Which is a good thing; it allows me to enjoy interesting protagonists, villains, and supporting cast members all the more. Corbett's gritty fiction, much of it set south of the U.S.-Mexican border, might not appeal to everyone, but "The Art of Character" is a master class for novice and experienced writers alike. Highly recommended.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    This book on character starts and ends with examining your own life and using that as source for writing. There are other sources for character which Corbett explains and they can be used with your own examined life to form real characters. The Art of Character tackles character in the first third - about 100 pages with lots of excercises and examples from a variety of books, plays, movies and TV shows. It also covers other writing topics such as scenes, dialogue, perspective and voice. I found This book on character starts and ends with examining your own life and using that as source for writing. There are other sources for character which Corbett explains and they can be used with your own examined life to form real characters. The Art of Character tackles character in the first third - about 100 pages with lots of excercises and examples from a variety of books, plays, movies and TV shows. It also covers other writing topics such as scenes, dialogue, perspective and voice. I found the character and scene help to be the best.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gerry Wilson

    Corbett's book is the most in-depth study of character I've ever read. His thorough treatment of character genesis and development is exhaustive. I often re-read passages, wishing I could commit them to memory. It's a book I'll turn to again as a resource, particularly while the characters for a new book project are taking shape. The Art of Character is an invaluable resource for fiction writers. Corbett's book is the most in-depth study of character I've ever read. His thorough treatment of character genesis and development is exhaustive. I often re-read passages, wishing I could commit them to memory. It's a book I'll turn to again as a resource, particularly while the characters for a new book project are taking shape. The Art of Character is an invaluable resource for fiction writers.

  11. 5 out of 5

    elif

    Great but not godtier - but I suspect the author knew this anyway. I wonder if this will get better when I go back to it for reference.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Olga Tsygankova

    As the author himself states in the book, what works like magic for one writer, falls completely flat for another. Well, that is, unfortunately, my story with this book. I've read it through and through, tried a lot of exercises, but none of them seemed to work or result in any usable piece of writing. Probably, the author and I exist in parallel writing universes. That being said, the book is well-written, goes much deeper than the usual "write that story" lot, and provides plenty of useful ins As the author himself states in the book, what works like magic for one writer, falls completely flat for another. Well, that is, unfortunately, my story with this book. I've read it through and through, tried a lot of exercises, but none of them seemed to work or result in any usable piece of writing. Probably, the author and I exist in parallel writing universes. That being said, the book is well-written, goes much deeper than the usual "write that story" lot, and provides plenty of useful insights into psychology of characterization.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    I bought this book without reading anything about it. What a good surprise! Deep, full of useful tips and thoughts. Very helpful.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Boze Herrington

    truly one of the best books I’ve read on the craft of writing.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    Not surprisingly, because they are the ones who write based on craft, Corbett borrows heavily from the Film and TV writing bibles, and also from numerous psychologists, for his source material to help flesh out characters in a way that is designed to make them seem like real people. He has the further goal to also make the characters function well in plots, and to that end his emphasis is to place the characters in scenes and see how they respond. The exercises are designed to put you to work al Not surprisingly, because they are the ones who write based on craft, Corbett borrows heavily from the Film and TV writing bibles, and also from numerous psychologists, for his source material to help flesh out characters in a way that is designed to make them seem like real people. He has the further goal to also make the characters function well in plots, and to that end his emphasis is to place the characters in scenes and see how they respond. The exercises are designed to put you to work along those lines: create characters that have the heft and surprise of real people and plop them into scenes and see how they perform. The exercises are hard work but will yield rewards. If you struggle with characters, or are just looking for a fresh approach, this book is a gold mine.

  16. 4 out of 5

    T

    "Look to the writers you admire, study them, learn from them, obsess on their work like a jealous lover. Gain a sense for the relentless search for worth in their writing, the reckless adventure of a meaningful life, not just the thrills and giggles. Attend to detail and steal wisely. Beyond that, you're on your own." - David Corbett "Look to the writers you admire, study them, learn from them, obsess on their work like a jealous lover. Gain a sense for the relentless search for worth in their writing, the reckless adventure of a meaningful life, not just the thrills and giggles. Attend to detail and steal wisely. Beyond that, you're on your own." - David Corbett

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    If you're looking for a quick read, this is not it. In fact it's rather a slow read. However, the insights it provides are invaluable to writers - way beyond what does your character desire, far past making lists of character traits. This book explains how to plumb the inner worlds of your characters to make your fiction sing with depth. If you're looking for a quick read, this is not it. In fact it's rather a slow read. However, the insights it provides are invaluable to writers - way beyond what does your character desire, far past making lists of character traits. This book explains how to plumb the inner worlds of your characters to make your fiction sing with depth.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    I decided not to finish. I prefer a book centered on books. I almost said centered on writing, but screen writing is writing, and the author indicates in the title he is going there. I just didn't enjoy it as much as a book that addresses books only. My bias. And I like movies. Go figure. I decided not to finish. I prefer a book centered on books. I almost said centered on writing, but screen writing is writing, and the author indicates in the title he is going there. I just didn't enjoy it as much as a book that addresses books only. My bias. And I like movies. Go figure.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kristen Lamb

    A must-have for writers. Tremendous resource and a beautiful read.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Karen Chung

    "Everything starts with a *desire*." "Everything starts with a *desire*."

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Holmström

    A book well worth reading. Great tips and excercises.

  22. 4 out of 5

    William Adams

    The first 120 pages, and the last 65 pages of this book are worth reading. Those are packed with insights. In the middle, the book degenerates into long, annotated lists without much analysis. Corbett cites The Art of Dramatic Writing, by Lajos Egri, which itemizes how to construct a character in terms of physical appearance, psychological traits, and sociological factors. Corbett spends 80 pages going over Egri’s list in detail that adds little to its understanding. (Is your character comfortab The first 120 pages, and the last 65 pages of this book are worth reading. Those are packed with insights. In the middle, the book degenerates into long, annotated lists without much analysis. Corbett cites The Art of Dramatic Writing, by Lajos Egri, which itemizes how to construct a character in terms of physical appearance, psychological traits, and sociological factors. Corbett spends 80 pages going over Egri’s list in detail that adds little to its understanding. (Is your character comfortable with sex? Does your character have a good fashion sense? What are your character’s favorite foods?). The point of this drawn-out exercise is to expand the range of choices you might consider when crafting a character, a worthy consideration, but his instruction is swamped by tedious examples from books, TV, and movies. Do we really need to be reminded that James Joyce took seriously the religion of his characters? Part III is another long list, this time of all the possible roles a character can take, such as protagonist, antagonist, the steadfast character, the sleepwalker, the ghost, the betrayer and other Joseph Campbell-y reductionistic stereotypes. There are other similar lists out there, equally informative (e.g., Story Structure Architect, by V.L. Schmidt.) So let’s look at the “good” 185 pages of the book, at the beginning and at the end. In the beginning section, Corbett starts with the classical, Aristotelian character arc but comes to a startling conclusion. Revelation of the character’s hidden weakness or Achilles’ Heel, does not result in epiphany, as Aristotle suggested, but in shame. This was an insight for me, and I realized that the whole notion of the epiphany is an intellectual artifice. Shame is a much more likely reaction. The character must then find a way to believe in his/her self-worth again to overcome that shame, or at least deal with it, as it’s possible that shame can never be undone. Corbett’s discussion of secrets is likewise insightful. All characters have secrets, even secondary characters, and that’s a good way to animate a character and drive a story. Secrets produce contradictions: a hugely useful insight. The use of contradictory traits in the same character is an old trick, hard to do, but Corbett makes it seem reasonable and interesting with his examples (love v. duty, addiction v. propriety, poverty v. pretension, sex v. everything, etc.) The section on “voice,” both the narrator’s and the character’s (often they are different) was disappointing, but perhaps there is nothing to say about voice. Everybody wants it but nobody can say what it is or how to get it. The section on dialog was only cursory, but there was a useful list of nuts-and-bolts techniques. The exercises at the end of each chapter seemed formulaic but I imagine if you actually did them (I didn’t), they’d be helpful. The lessons of the book apply equally well to fiction, TV and movies, as the subtitle suggests, but aside from a brief and dubious discussion of the camera as narrator in visual storytelling, the book is not customized for screenwriting. Overall, I’d say this book has useful reminders about what’s possible in developing character, tips that prevent you from falling into a rut, and is spiced by some insights into character development, and it all adds up to a compendium of information on the art of character that is worth having.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Chris DiLeo

    When I started reading this a few months ago, I wasn't in the right mind frame to appreciate what Corbett was attempting. I gave it another shot a few days ago, and devoured it. Sometimes we're not ready for books, but they'll be there waiting for us when we are. There is so much to recommend about this book if you are a writer and interested in delving more deeply into creating characters. The usual advice is here—characters must want something, be complex, make readers care—but there are new ta When I started reading this a few months ago, I wasn't in the right mind frame to appreciate what Corbett was attempting. I gave it another shot a few days ago, and devoured it. Sometimes we're not ready for books, but they'll be there waiting for us when we are. There is so much to recommend about this book if you are a writer and interested in delving more deeply into creating characters. The usual advice is here—characters must want something, be complex, make readers care—but there are new takes on old saws and there is a refreshing tone throughout: encouraging, meaningful, and inspiring. The book makes use of numerous literary and cinematic examples, but unlike many books on writing that use different examples for each element/technique, Corbett illustrates his core advice through the same texts. This is helpful because the cherrypicking approach to examples usually strikes me as forced. Not every work employs every technique, but if the writing advice is meant to instruct core principles of narration then the examples should be consistent—and not Shakespearean alone. It is also incredibly refreshing that Corbett's advice is for us to return again and again to the authors we admire. Typical advice would be to "study the greats"; that might be helpful, assuming "the greats" stir me emotionally. I could examine isolated scenes, but there's no point studying writers whose writing does not give me a super-charge. That said, the books those writers scribed will be waiting for me if my time to read them ever comes.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alison Lilly

    I almost stalled out on this book during Chapters 12-16, which read a lot like your usual boring checklist of what makes up a character (physical appearance, family history, vocal tics, political opinions, etc).... I pulled through because I happened to be reading this book as part of a writers group, and I’m glad I did! There’s a ton of insight and helpful exercises in this and, perhaps more importantly, Corbett has a good handle on how questions of characterization relate to the much bigger is I almost stalled out on this book during Chapters 12-16, which read a lot like your usual boring checklist of what makes up a character (physical appearance, family history, vocal tics, political opinions, etc).... I pulled through because I happened to be reading this book as part of a writers group, and I’m glad I did! There’s a ton of insight and helpful exercises in this and, perhaps more importantly, Corbett has a good handle on how questions of characterization relate to the much bigger issues of creative process and self-discovery that motivate someone to write in the first place. Admittedly, I skimmed quite a bit of the middle of this book, but only because I’ve read a lot of what those particular chapters contained in other places. I understand why Corbett felt compelled to include these chapters anyway — the result is that this book covers a huge amount of ground and can stand on its own as an excellent resource, even if it’s the only book on character development you ever read. (Though let’s be honest, it won’t be, right?)

  25. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    It's been a long time since I've found a writing craft book that has stirred my imagination as much as this one. A well-written, focused book about writing strong characters. Good examples, good exercises if you're into that kind of thing, well laid out, well thought through. I also appreciated that multiple times Corbett reminds us not to do take on all of this at once, rather go at it bit by bit, that it is a process, that it is an art, that it requires deep thinking, rather than a check list It's been a long time since I've found a writing craft book that has stirred my imagination as much as this one. A well-written, focused book about writing strong characters. Good examples, good exercises if you're into that kind of thing, well laid out, well thought through. I also appreciated that multiple times Corbett reminds us not to do take on all of this at once, rather go at it bit by bit, that it is a process, that it is an art, that it requires deep thinking, rather than a check list or a series of rules to follow. Highly recommended for both beginning and more seasoned writers looking to deepen their understanding of character creation!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Vy Do

    I am grateful for having found this book. It's strange how a book on writing can move you so deeply. There are so many lessons to learn about desire, motivation, conflict and many other things that drive a character - all of which also drive us as human beings in real life. Writing is an act of self-discovery, and if a character appears muddled, confused or unconvincing, it is often because the writer is also unclear about himself. As the creator, you have to understand your characters inside ou I am grateful for having found this book. It's strange how a book on writing can move you so deeply. There are so many lessons to learn about desire, motivation, conflict and many other things that drive a character - all of which also drive us as human beings in real life. Writing is an act of self-discovery, and if a character appears muddled, confused or unconvincing, it is often because the writer is also unclear about himself. As the creator, you have to understand your characters inside out, but Corbett also said that no amount of psychoanalysis of a person is enough without empathy. Mere knowledge feels empty.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bob Zaslow

    A few pages into his book, David Corbet had me at, “comprehending your characters begins with an honest, unflinching understanding of yourself.” Honest, no-frills insights like that one along with nuts and bolts advice and unique writing exercises, make The Art of Character a work of utilitarian art in itself. Most importantly, as a result of taking notes and doing many of those exercises, I believe I’m a stronger writer now.

  28. 5 out of 5

    John Cooper

    Great detailed instruction on character development and application in writing. Corbett puts his principles of character into examples for real life experience. His insight into everyday angles of character is very deep and enlightening. If you followed all the advice in this book, every amateur writer could become a pro.

  29. 4 out of 5

    ria

    yes it did take me literal months to finish this (my own lack of ability to read anything, nothing to do with the book) but i found it to be very helpful and insightful. if you are a writer and want to find new ways to shape and get to know your characters, this book has some really creative and stimulating exercises

  30. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Beard

    I'm not a fan of psychoanalysis, and Corbett clearly is, so throughout the book I had to translate his advice into my own understanding of psychology. But if you're willing to do that, or else if you're just a huge fan of Freud, this book does a great job confronting you with questions and practice exercises for honing your characters and turning them into people. I'm not a fan of psychoanalysis, and Corbett clearly is, so throughout the book I had to translate his advice into my own understanding of psychology. But if you're willing to do that, or else if you're just a huge fan of Freud, this book does a great job confronting you with questions and practice exercises for honing your characters and turning them into people.

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