"The most complete and comprehensive guide to character I've ever read." - Adam Croft
Character is at the heart of every story. We love stories because we fall in love with characters, we want to see what happens to them and we want to see them experience hope and despair. Yet, a lot of storytelling books focus on structure and plot, when those things are worthless without a character an audience wants to go through that structure and plot with.
International Emmy nominated writer, Mark Boutros, offers a guide to creating characters who are engaging, emotionally driven and memorable. With experience as a screenwriter, novelist, creative writing teacher and mentor, Mark shares a mixture of theory and exercises to get you thinking about the questions to have in your mind during character creation.
A lot of stories are perfectly functional, hitting all the right beats, but often fall short due to a thin or obvious character. Problems people think are related to plot are often symptoms of a deeper issue with the characters. Mark highlights what is at the core of character, the importance of motivation, trauma, obstacles and how every little detail can enrich an experience for an audience and ultimately make people care.
How do you get to know people? By asking questions and getting to know them so you move past the shallow. Do the same during character development and your story will be so much more engaging for it.
Each chapter focuses on an aspect important to character development and ends with exercises so you can apply the concepts to your work. The book includes:
Goals, desires, lessonsStakes to your character's goalCharacter flawsDeveloping your character's voice and world viewGenerating truthful obstaclesHow to write anti-heroes and compelling villainsCharacter and personality traitsCommon mistakes in character writingCharacter researchA character questionnaire
The majority of the ideas originate from the author's screenwriting experience, but they apply to all forms of story, whether it be fiction writing or playwriting, because the focus is on what really makes a character stand out and memorable.
The job of the writer is to deliver an emotional experience. Character is the heart of that. This is an invaluable tool for beginner and experienced writers.
The chance to really get to know your characters
The Craft of Character is one of the best books on character I've ever come across.
Mark is funny, knowledgeable and never patronising. The simple but fundamental concepts he touches upon make the difference between a two-and a three-dimensional character. The examples and especially the exercises force you to step away from yourself and give your characters a real chance.
Reading the book between drafts really helped me pause and think about where my protagonist was headed and why. Before reading the book, my characters were acquaintances, casual friends. Now they are like siblings or best friends. I know what they're thinking, on and off the pages of my screenplay. Sounds a bit creepy, yes.
The book structure is great too, starting from the essential building blocks, then moving on to the presentation - Mark's tips on character descriptions are a personal favourite.
Would 100% recommend not only for beginners, but also for experienced writers looking to get to know their characters better. A bit like writer-character therapy.