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The Art of Character: Creating Memorable Characters for Fiction, Film, and TV [Kindle Edition]

David Corbett
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Praise for The Art of Character

"David Corbett has written a wise, inspiring love letter to all the imaginary creatures inside our minds—so we might conjure them whole on the page. I predict that massively underscored copies of The Art of Character will rest close at hand on writers’ desks for many years to come."—Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild and Torch

“David Corbett has combined his unique talents as a gifted writer and an extraordinary teacher to create a superb resource on character development. Deftly crafted and impeccably researched, The Art of Character is a thoughtful and insightful book that is immensely readable and practical. Suitable for beginners to best-selling authors, The Art of Character should be on every serious writer's shelf next to Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, and Stephen King's On Writing. Highly recommended.”—Sheldon Siegel, New York Times Best Selling Author of Perfect Alibi and Incriminating Evidence

“I once made the mistake of writing a story with David Corbett.  The man smoked me.  He can delineate the character and personality of an accordion on three strokes.  I didn't even know accordions had character.  Imagine what he can do with people. This act of generosity and wisdom from a very good writer will help anyone who is staring at a blank page, any day, any time. Highly recommended.”—Luis Alberto Urrea, author of Queen of America and The Hummingbird’s Daughter

“Corbett’s The Art of Character is no "how to" book or "writing by numbers" manual. It is an artful testament to the writers’ credo – that a story is only as affecting and meaningful as the characters who tell it – that writing, essentially, is character. The Art of Character is a writer’s bible that will lead to your character’s soul. Corbett writes with the grace and authority of a seasoned professional, but offers much more than the usual inventory of method and strategy. With clarity and compassion, he gets to the very thing that lies deep within us, that longing we share to discover that one distinct and authentic voice. The Art of Character is itself a work of art, an indispensable resource for writers of any genre, and a pedagogical tool for teachers of writing at any level.”—Elizabeth Brundage, author of A Stranger Like You and The Doctor’s Wife.

"Well-delivered character development - an issue that can so easily intimidate a writer - is crucial to the richness of the narrative, because characters are not simply at the heart of the story - they are the story.  David Corbett's The Art of Character offers a deep inquiry into the creation of character for the novice writer, with valuable nuggets of wisdom for the seasoned storyteller. If you are a writer, it should be on your desk."—Jacqueline Winspear, New York Times Bestselling Author of Elegy for Eddie and Maisie Dobbs

"Corbett shares his secrets for making characters come to life on the page, from presenting their back stories and motivations to crafting memorable dialogue and great scenes that flesh out characters and move the plot forward at a compelling, tension-fueled pace. Corbett has a clear and elegant style that’s easy for would-be writers to absorb..”—The Writer Magazine,
selected as one of the Top 13 Writing Guides of 2013

 “Both inspiring and practical, The Art of Character belongs on every writer’s shelf. David Corbett brilliantly illustrates those elusive tools writers need to breathe life into their characters with greater confidence and deeper insight.”—Cara Black, bestselling author of Murder at the Lanterne Rouge

"David Corbett's The Art of Character belongs on every writer's shelf beside Elizabeth George's Write Away and Stephen King's On Writing. An invaluable resource for both the novice and the experienced novelist, it's as much fun to read as a great novel."—Deborah Crombie, author of No Mark Upon Her

"David Corbett is a guy who knows his business. Reading this book, I learned things I didn't know and was reminded of ones I did. I recommend The Art of Character to every writer, at any level."—S. J. Rozan, award-winning author of Ghost Hero

“Indispensable. Few are the writer’s guides that are written as beautifully, cogently, and intelligently as a well-wrought novel (or a well-rendered character) itself. This is one of those books.”—Megan Abbott, Edgar Award-Winning author of The End of Everything and Dare Me


"The topic of character development begins and ends with David Corbett’s The Art of Character. This is the book on the subject, destined to stand among the writings of John Gardner, Joseph Campbell, and the others of that select few whose work is fundamental to understanding the craft of storytelling."—Craig Clevenger, author of The Contortionist’s Handbook

"It is rare to find the deep philosophical questions of literature (and life) met with such straight-forward and inspiring instruction. But David Corbett is that writer, and The Art of Character is that book."—Robert Mailer Anderson, author Boonville

 “David Corbett, himself a master crafter of riveting and remarkable narratives, delivers up in this highly readable guide, a smorgasbord of smart examples of memorable characters from literature and popular culture, to create an addictive and helpful primer on this most central of narrative ingredients.  Clear-headed and confident, Corbett takes us through the steps in a manner that resists formula while at the same time demystifying a process that has likely daunted every writer since Homer.”—Robin Hemley, author of Turning Life into Fiction

 “This fine book is about as thorough an examination of character and what it means in all sorts of imaginative writing as you're likely to find anywhere. A terrific starting place for those who wish to sharpen or enhance their skill at making sharp, believable, meaningful characters, it also has practical uses that go far beyond the ordinary creative writing text. This is an exploration of the phenomenon of character -- in as wide a variety of fiction and drama as there is. It will help any writer create and sustain human beings who make you forget you're reading, who are alive, who are worthy of our attention and sympathy.”—Robert Bausch, author of Out of Season

“Writers—pay attention! The Art of Character is a tremendously useful and important book. David Corbett delivers in-depth analysis and practical wisdom on every page.”—Sam Barry, author of Write That Book Already! The Tough Love You Need to Get Published Now

 “Character is the beating heart of fiction and with The Art of Character novelist David Corbett has written a clear, in-depth, and highly entertaining exploration of how to create remarkable characters. This an essential guide to students of the writer’s craft at all levels.”—Mark Haskell Smith, author of Baked


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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5.0 von 5 Sternen New Ways to Get to know Your Character 21. Mai 2013
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
There are new things in here a writer can learn. The biggest tip is: Write in scenes! Instead of writing a biography from outside, describe the childhood of your character in small scenes. Don't write: He was always sick. Describe EVERY sickness in his life and which role it plays in the STORY you are writing. Good book. By it. Study it!
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.7 von 5 Sternen  38 Rezensionen
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Ask yourself: Who am I? 25. Februar 2013
Von Phil Semler - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Full disclosure: I've read all of Corbett's novels. He's one of my favorite crime writers. I've also taken a writing class with him, which isn't cheap. His help on my book was invaluable. Now for only $17 or less, you can get a valuable book on writing, like taking a master class. Thing is, it's not about "character," it's about how to create a living person in your work. A living person with drives, wants, and needs, values, an unconscious, with secrets and contradictions, and wounds. A person with heart rather than a "personality type." On and on the book goes from a simple premise, like a philosophical treatise, getting deeper and deeper into the self, the examined life, even marveling at the ultimate fiction of this self. A very rich and profound writing book. The many examples were very helpful. Finally, my epiphany: other characters define the main characters. "We don't know ourselves by ourselves," Corbett writes. For me, this book is a godsend. It helps lift me out of my overbearing subjectivity when I write, and helps me to really create fully realized characters in a "teeming" world. My only negative is that he also used some examples from television, which I didn't know about--but after all, the book is for "fiction, film, and TV."
26 von 28 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Believe the reviews—this is a must-have book 22. Februar 2013
Von Theresa Rogers - Veröffentlicht auf
I know, I know, like you, I always read the professional reviews with a weather eye. But this time they're right. I have spent years reading books on different aspects of the craft of writing and few make it to my "go to" shelf. This one goes there immediately.

Why? This book works because it brings together two often unlinked approaches: First, the very practical and full-of-examples chapters invite us to uncover the concrete, specific details that make the difference between a character that needs to tell us who they are and one who can show us. They help us slow down, drop in, and see and feel the people we’re creating.

When I did the exercises (and they can be tough, as some ask us to delve into our own experiences of, for example, pain and loss, to remember their power), they helped me forge an intuitive connection to my characters, even though they’re nothing like me, which is allowing me to be much more authentic when I write scenes. The insights I’ve gotten are also informing every aspect of the plot I’m weaving. The emotional arc of my characters came vividly to life in a way that not only clarified the story I was trying to tell, it also suggested ways in which I could tell it.

This happened through Corbett’s second approach, which is to ground those details in action. Corbett continually exhorts us to “see in scenes,” not in graphs or charts or character biographies, and this takes us out of the realm of the abstract character “in our heads” and into the world of grounded reality.

I wrote scenes where my characters interacted with their childhood bully, got slapped in public, laughed until wine came out of their noses, got their hearts broken, had to live through the times they felt greatest joy and greatest shame, and the numerous other things Corbett suggests we do with them. By actually working with the details I’d created, I could see and feel, without abstraction, where my characters were at my story’s start and where they needed to be by story’s end. This suggested scene after scene I needed to write to show their lives authentically as well as craft, among other things, their emotional arc.

Ultimately the gift of Corbett’s book is that it trains us as writers to get into the concrete. Excellent characterization takes place in the details, and this book takes you by the hand and shows you how to martial those details so necessary to crafting complex characters and then take those characters to the page, where they can get down to the business of bringing stories to life. This is the deepest, and most fruitful, exploration of character I’ve found.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Good For Your Writing, Your Reading, And Your Self-Reflections 11. Februar 2013
Von Matt Duckworth - Veröffentlicht auf
David Corbett is an excellent novelist who writes about crime; mostly, he writes about humanity and inhumanity. Here, in "The Art of Character," Corbett guides you into the heart of any good writing: character, characterization, character in action. Practical, convincing, witty: what's not to love? Also, while there are plenty of pragmatic breakdowns for creating and developing characters and storylines, Corbett also knows that formulas are never enough, and he'll lead you beyond mere formula time and again. Excellent book, one that I am glad that I have.

Also, even if you never write a story of your own, you'll read differently, better, after reading Corbett's book.

I'm a college English teacher who dabbles in a bit of fiction and non-fiction; I want to dig deeper and produce worthy material, and this book will help me. In fact, "The Art of Character" will inform my own writing, my teaching and reading, and my self-reflections, my thinking about my own character. I recommend this book heartily. Get it; read it; go.

Finally, if you ever have a chance to catch David Corbett in person, at a book reading or a workshop, do so. He's the real deal, practical and personable and even inspiring at times.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Very helpful - should be bedtime reading for any author (or writer) 3. März 2014
Von Kind, Jovial, Dedicated - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
First, I have to make a confession and nail my colours firmly to the front of this review (not a misspelling, I'm Irish). I won this book in a character-focused writing competition.

I'm a self-taught, 'seat of the pants' writer and rarely read non-fiction, 'how-to' books, but of course, have read this book cover to cover, and I'm damned glad I did so. Full of informative tips and exercises, this definitive work is a must for any writer/author of character-based fiction. In fact, any writer/author at all. The chapters are clearly presented and end with a writing exercise that really work.

I'm not sure I'll ever be as good an author as I want to be, but David Corbett's The Art of Character is helping me and worthy of a place on any writer/author's bookshelf.

Nice one Mr Corbett, thanks for all the help.
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Comprehensive 16. August 2013
Von manndrake - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
If you are a beginning writer, looking for instruction on the aspects that make up compelling fiction, this is the book to buy for creating living, breathing characters. It covers every topic from heroes to villains to minor characters, and does it comprehensively. It will give you plenty of ideas for strengthening your characters. I don't see any reason to buy another book on this subject.
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