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Dynamic Characters

Characterization-Fiction, FICTION

By: Nancy Kress

Characters, they are the life of your story. Literally. As a long time reader it has always been my opinion that the greatest books are the ones with full, believable characters. You know what I mean? They make finishing a book bittersweet, you are happy to know the end and yet, sad to leave the book behind. It’s these kinds of characters that every fiction writer dreams of making. It’s these kinds of characters Nancy Kress will help you to find if you read Dynamic Characters.

Initially, buying this book was a hard choice for me. There are so many fiction techniques that I want to find out more about, dialogue, plotting, the list goes on. In the end I choose Dynamic Characters because I felt it they were the most essential technique to master. Now I doubt I’ll need the other books. The book may be called Dynamic Characters but a more apt description of it’s contents would be Dynamic Fiction.

Nancy has divided the creation of characters into three parts. Creating Strong and Believable Characters: The Externals includes chapters on Names, Setting, Dialogue, Jobs and more. This first part didn’t just teach me how to start planning my characters but how to write realistic dialogue, the importance of setting choices and cultural effects.

The second part, The Internals, delves deep into your character, and your writing too. How do you decide what elements to leave out? What to include? How do you make a villain that’s as exciting to read about as your hero? When assumptions really do make an a** out of you and me and so much more than you would expect.

The final part is Character and Plot, with chapters that touch on conflict, point of view, and adaptations of plot. Of course, it also has a strong emphasis on the relationship between plot and character and how to make the plot naturally evolve from your character. When you finally finish this book you will not only have learned how to make Dynamic Characters but you will have completed all the sketching out of your complete novel, including setting, conflict and plot.

Though it’s a wealth of information, Nancy Kress never lets you feel like you are reading a textbook. She manages to squeeze it all in with a light conversational tone that educates and befriends the reader. I really enjoyed spending my time in this book and recommend it to all you fiction writers who are looking to make your work just that little bit better. Whether you write shorts, or novels and no matter the genre, this versatile book will soon become your best friend and adviser.

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