Breathing Life Into Your Characters

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Writer's Digest Books, Mar 1, 2009 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 256 pages
4 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 write about being a prisoner if you've never been to jail? You can do all the research you want, but the question still remains: How do you convincingly portray characters if you've never lived in their skin?

In Breathing Life Into Your Characters, writing consultant and professional psychotherapist Rachel Ballon, Ph. D., shows you how to get in touch with the thoughts and feelings necessary to truly understand your characters—no matter what their background or life experiences. She'll show you how to:

  • Develop a psychological profile for every character
  • Turn archetypes into conflicted characters
  • Think like a criminal to convincingly write one
  • Reveal personalities through the use of nonverbal communication
In addition, you'll learn how to effectively use Ballon's "Method Writing" system—taught previously only in her writing workshops—to explore your own feelings, memories, and emotions to create characters of astonishing depth and complexity!


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User Review  - Caits - Borders

I bought this book on a whim one Saturday; a few of my friends have really in-depth Characterization books and Psychological Profile books, so I thought I would find one that was different and give it ... Read full review

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User Review  -

Rachel Ballons work as a therapist and writing instructor provides a wonderful journey through the psyche of characters. Informative wellorganized and thoughtful. Read full review


writing characters from the inside out
ghosts of the past your characters backstories
pulling the strings character motivation
less of you creating characters different from yourself
the psychology of characters and the writer what makes them tick
creating your villain tapping the shadow
the heart of drama injecting feelings into your characters
coping with conflict characters defense mechanisms and masks
dysfunctional families secrets myths and lies
creating real people disorders and troubled personalities
lasting impressions body language dialogue and subtext

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About the author (2009)

Rachel Ballon, Ph.D., is a licensed psychotherapist and the founder and director of the Writer's Center in Los Angeles. She is the author of four other books for Writer's Digest. She has reviewed hundreds of scripts for major Hollywood studios. A master teacher and noted success coach, she has taught as an adjunct professor at USC School of Cinema and Television. She lives in Los Angeles.

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