Creating Characters: How to Build Story People

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University of Oklahoma Press, Nov 28, 2012 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 208 pages
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A jargon-free manual on the basics of developing interesting fictional characters

Vibrant, believable characters help drive a fictional story. Along with a clever plot, well-drawn characters make us want to continue reading a novel or finish watching a movie. In Creating Characters, Dwight V. Swain shows how writers can invent interesting characters and improve them so that they move a story along.

“The core of character,” he says in chapter 1, “lies in each individual story person’s ability to care about something; to feel implicitly or explicitly, that something is important.” Building on that foundation—the capacity to care—Swain takes the would-be writer step-by-step through the fundamentals of finding and developing “characters who turn you on.” This basic but thought-provoking how-to is a valuable tool for both the novice and the seasoned writer.

 

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Contents

Whats the one key element any major character must have? The ability to care
1
How do you find the right character? You scan the applicants until you locate one who turns you on and fits the part
5
Why do you label a character? Your reader needs some clue or two to help him recognize each of your story people
15
Chapter 4 How do you make a character real? You provide him or her with appropriate tags traits and relationships
21
1 How do you motivate a character? You devise something that he or she must change in order to win happiness
33
2 How do you keep a character moving? You point that character towards his or her private future
39
How do you bring a character to life? You make the character reveal emotion
53
How much background should you give a character? Only enough to make your readerand youbelieve in him
61
Chapter 11 The Light Touch How do you make a character amusing? You replace reader assumptions with offbeat alternatives
108
Chapter 12 The Right Words How do you describe a character effectively? You build the character with significant specifics that lead readers to feel t...
128
How do you write good dialogue? You pay as much attention to feelings as to words
137
How do you treat characters in the various lengths media and genres? You design you people to fit your market
146
How can you get people to read about characters in unfamiliar worlds? You provide emotional insight into the world and individuals involved
157
How do you cope when readers dont believe in your characters and stories? You plug the gaps where belief leaks out
169
How do you maintain your cutting edge as a writer You draw on the stiumlus of story people
182
Appendix 1 For Further Reading
187

What goes into building an ofbeat character? The same elements that you use in creating and story persononly more so
76
How do you treat a hero? You shape the hero to fit the job he or she has to do
88

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About the author (2012)

Dwight V. Swain spent a lifetime writing newspaper and magazine articles, pulp fiction, and screenplays. For more than twenty years he taught in the Professional Writing Program at the University of Oklahoma. His popular books, Techniques of the Selling Writer and Creating Characters: How to Build Story People are published by the University of Oklahoma Press.

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