Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card

Pros: Characters are a crucial component well-served by this treatment.

Cons: Some of the material is a bit obvious.

Thoughts: The chapter on raising the emotional stakes–something every storyteller should read, even if it is the shortest chapter in the book. Part III on ‘Performing Characters’ has great coverage on the basics of viewpoint that all storytellers should understand.

Summary: Great for beginners with some key reminders for veterans.
 

Table of Contents:

    INTRODUCTION 1
    PART I: INVENTING CHARACTERS 3

  1. WHAT IS A CHARACTER? 4
  2. WHAT MAKES A GOOD FICTIONAL CHARACTER? 14
    • The Three Questions Readers Ask
    • You Are The First Audience
    • Interrogating the Character
    • From Character to Story, from Story to Character
  3. WHERE DO CHARACTERS COME FROM? 25
    • Ideas from Life
    • Ideas from the Story
    • Servants of the Idea
    • Serendipity
  4. MAKING DECISIONS
    • Names
    • Keeping a Bible

    PART II: CONSTRUCTING CHARACTERS

  5. WHAT KIND OF STORY ARE YOU TELLING? 48
    • The “MICE” Quotient
    • Milieu
    • Idea
    • Character
    • Event
    • The Contract with the Reader
  6. THE HIERARCHY 59
    • Walk-ons and Placeholders
    • Minor Characters
    • Major Characters
  7. HOW TO RAISE THE EMOTIONAL STAKES 68
    • Suffering
    • Sacrifice
    • Jeopardy
    • Sexual Tension
    • Signs and Portents
  8. WHAT SHOULD WE FEEL ABOUT THE CHARACTER? 75
    • First Impressions
    • Characters We Love
    • Characters We Hate
  9. THE HERO AND THE COMMON MAN 93
  10. THE COMIC CHARACTER: CONTROLLED DISBELIEF 99
    • Doing a “Take”
    • Exaggeration
    • Downplaying
    • Oddness
  11. THE SERIOUS CHARACTER: MAKE US BELIEVE 105
    • Elaboration of Motive
    • Attitude
    • The Remembered Past
    • Implied Past
    • Justification
  12. TRANSFORMATIONS 119
    • Why People Change
    • Justifying Changes

    PART III: PERFORMING CHARACTERS 125

  13. VOICES 126
    • Person
    • Tense
  14. PRESENTATION VS. REPRESENTATION 134
  15. DRAMATIC VS. NARRATIVE 140
  16. FIRST-PERSON NARRATIVE 143
    • Which Person Is First?
    • No Fourth Wall
    • Unreliable Narrators
    • Distance In Time
    • Withholding Information
    • Lapses
  17. THIRD PERSON 155
    • Omniscient vs. Limited Point of View
    • Making Up Your Mind
    • Levels of Penetration
  18. A PRIVATE POPULATION EXPLOSION 173
  19. INDEX 174

 
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