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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, lessons
- Stakes to your character's goal
- Character flaws
- Developing your character's voice and world view
- Generating truthful obstacles
- How to write anti-heroes and compelling villains
- Character and personality traits
- Common mistakes in character writing
- Character research
- A 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.
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