7 Resources on Characterization

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Some authors are plot heavy in their writing and others are into the characterization. The reality is, without both, your story will feel off balanced. Engage all of your reader and have both.
This week, peek into my writer’s library and discover 7 sources on Characterization.  Next week, look for more information on Plot.
Jeff Gerke’s book is easy to read. He talks about layered characters, the emotional journey, the three-act story structure that will sustain your character arc, backstory and who plot and character intertwine.
Draws on the Method acting theory that theater professionals have used for decades, this in-depth guide explains seven characterization techniques and adapts them for the novelist’s use. She uses examples from classic and contemporary novels show you how these techniques have been used to dazzling effect.
You’ll learn to:
  • Create characters whose distinctive traits become plot components
  • Determine each character’s specific objectives and motivations
  • Write natural-sounding dialogue rich in meaning
  • Endow your characters with three-dimensional emotional lives
  • Use character to bring action sequences to exuberant life
  • Write convincingly about any character facing any circumstance
Without goals, your story will ramble. Without motivation, your characters won’t be real(no one in their right mind would do THAT!). Without conflict there would be no interest – your story will flat line. Debra makes the concept of GMC easy enough for all to grasp and apply to their writing.
Have you ever been at a loss when it was time to name your characters? Have you ever wanted to name your characters based on what the name means? This book is for you. It contains a listing of names by ethinic background. Is your story set in the middle east? Choose an authentic name from their listing. Each name also has its meaning listed alongside it.
WARNING: Do not use this book to build stereotypical characters. Use this as a catalyst to get you thinking in the right direction. Some situations are easy enough to figure out by putting yourself into your characters shoes, but you don’t want all your characters responding the way YOU would to a situation.
Perhaps you don’t understand how someone who has a psychological disorder might behave (How do you walk in those shoes if you have never been there?). This is written by a psychologist who delves into the why’s of certain personality types and their behaviors. She has some answers for you.
WARNING: Do not use this book to build stereotypical characters. While Edelstein’s book delves into the character’s psyche, McCutcheon’s book looks to their actions.  
He has provided a character questionnaire to help you think through who your character is. He asks things you might never think you would want to know about your character. Most of it you will never pass on directly to your reader. But these background tidbits make for a fuller character.
You will also find a Character Thesaurus. A listing of different ways to voice what you want to say about your character. Words to use as you seek to show instead of tell your story. Instead of saying your protagonist is old, you might use descriptions like cadaverous, careworn, haggard or hair sprouting from moles.
Again, use this as a catalyst to find your own words in your own voice.
Part One: The internals including decription, monikers, setting, work and dialogue.
Part Two: The externals including attitude, her thoughts, avoiding assumptions, dreams, villians and a dossier you can fill out to help you pinpoint what you need to know about your character.
Part Three: Character and Plot. How to get where you’re going, conflict and violence, point of view, secondary characters, character change intertwining with plot and based on real-life events.
She includes a summary at the end of each chapter for easy review.

I hope you find a book that is helpful. Remember, if your budget is tight, see if your local library carries any of these. Do you have a different book in your library? Tell us about it and help us build a better resource list.

Angela D. Meyer

Angela D. Meyer

Angela D. Meyer lives in NE with her husband and two children whom they homeschool - recently graduating their son. She has taught Bible class for over 35 years and is on the leadership team of her local Christian writers group. She loves God, her family, the ocean, good stories, connecting with friends, taking pictures, quiet evenings and a good laugh. Someday she wants to ride in a hot air balloon and vacation by the sea.
Angela D. Meyer

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