Read The Art of Character: Creating Memorable Characters for Fiction, Film, and TV by David Corbett Online


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 insiFormer 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....

Title : The Art of Character: Creating Memorable Characters for Fiction, Film, and TV
Author :
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ISBN : 9780143121572
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 416 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Art of Character: Creating Memorable Characters for Fiction, Film, and TV Reviews

  • Rose
    2019-06-10 08:55

    Pre-read thoughts: Yet another book I randomly bought from my university's bookstore (and yeah I've splurge spent on a number of fiction reads and writing guides in recent weeks). I'll probably be using it quite soon because I'm trying to re-examine some of my characters from my WIPs. Hope it turns out worth the read and buy.Post read thoughts: Worth every penny. I'm definitely going to be revisiting this guide more often. What I liked about it was that the book constructively examines aspects of character motivation, conflict, internal rationale, among other dimensions to make it possible to delve into a deeper POV set. There were exercises at the end of each chapter to not only look into your own experiences as a guide for character (because people are the characters of their own stories), but also active exercises to refer to and examine in your own WIPs. I liked that the examples given from multiple sources of media were plausible and great examples, but it may be limiting for some depending on whether or not you've watched/perused that show or series. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this and I will be using it as an active guide. I would highly recommend it for anyone who want to develop their characters more in their stories.

  • Dave
    2019-06-14 06:58

    This book on character starts and ends with examining your own life and using that as source for writing. There are other sources for character which Corbett explains and they can be used with your own examined life to form real characters. The Art of Character tackles character in the first third - about 100 pages with lots of excercises and examples from a variety of books, plays, movies and TV shows. It also covers other writing topics such as scenes, dialogue, perspective and voice. I found the character and scene help to be the best.

  • Charlotte Morganti
    2019-06-14 04:24

    David Corbett’s recent book, The Art of Character, is hanging out, not on the shelves with the other book on the craft of writing, but on my desk, an easy grab-distance away. Why? Well, frankly, I was getting tired of the trips to the bookcase. I’ll bet I put a few miles on the old slippers daily, checking out what he has to say on the subject of character.Because Mr. Corbett is an accomplished writer and teacher, and because he’s obviously a student of the craft of fiction and of characterization, there’s a lot that’s great about The Art of Character. Let me tell you four of the greatest elements:1. You can read the book your way Definitely, you can read this book in an orderly fashion from start to finish, which is fine if you are in “learn the craft” mode. But, because Mr. Corbett has organized his presentation well, you can also pick your sections based on your own preferences or needs. This is a fantastic element if, like me, you are often in “help, I need specific help” mode.Whichever approach to the book you decide to take, you’ll find enlightening and practical discussions about topics such as scenes, protagonists (and thankfully, how to solve problems with them), antagonists, point of view, dialogue, and conflict. 2. The army of secondary charactersMost of us have several secondary characters in our stories. In The Art of Character Mr. Corbett analyzes the roles that those secondary characters can, or should, play in order to strengthen your work. Roles such as the crucial ally, the betrayer, the village, the stranger, the ghost. Understanding those roles and reviewing your manuscript with them in mind is an eye-opening, jaw-dropping experience. At least it was for me. 3. Helpful examplesMr. Corbett illustrates the principles discussed in The Art of Character with examples from books and films that you are likely to recognize. For me, concrete examples help me understand the technique or lesson and to analyze how I might utilize it in my writing.4. ExercisesAt the end of every chapter there are exercises to help you apply the principles discussed. The great thing about these exercises are that they permit you to focus on your work in progress, so that in addition to working on the technique in question, you are able to move your own project forward. Always a good thing.The Art of Character is a worthwhile addition to every writer’s toolbox.

  • Mark Stevens
    2019-05-27 09:14

    To anyone out there crafting the next best-seller for the waiting universe of hungry readers, stop your clacking keyboard for a few hours and read "The Art of Character." David Corbett makes a convincing case that all fiction starts with developing the right character and giving that character the right traits, issues, background, history and depth.Corbett’s standards are high and his examples are strong and diverse, from movies to the stage to novels. His references run the gamut, from Patricia Highsmith, Jim Harrison, Cormac McCarthy, Elmore Leonard and Joseph Conrad to "The Godfather," "Michael Clayton" and "Slumdog Millionaire."Corbett occasionally points out what doesn’t work (and frankly, I wish there was more examples of why some stories or movies fall flat). Corbett urges writers to conduct an “unflinching” analysis of their own identity to understand their characters. He wants scenes that allow characters to meaningfully engage characters in conflict with each other and recommends character biographies created from scenes over the traditional inventory-based approach. And he shows you how to develop an intuitive grasp of your character by understanding moments of profound emotional impact—shame, fear, pride, regret, forgiveness. "The Art of Character" is a toolkit and my copy is heavily marked-up with pages and paragraphs that resonate. Corbett’s style is breezy and conversational.One of the most interesting sections is “The Army of Others: Secondary Characters,” including Corbett’s detailed description of the role he calls “The Revenant,” the character in successful stories who forces the protagonist to work through her issues, particularly her biggest fears.“A hero may grow purely from the pressure of external events, but it’s doubtful she can transform, moving beyond a previous flaw or limitation, without the challenging or supportive scrutiny of another person. We don’t know ourselves by ourselves, as the saying goes, and it’s no less true of fiction than real life.”Put "The Art of Character" on your shelf of books about writing. If you’re stuck, browse for a few minutes and try out one of the exercises. I doubt you’ll be stuck for long.

  • Ali M.
    2019-06-06 04:19

    Incredibly helpful. The first two chapters had me worried that this was going to be more of an abstract treatise than a practical guide (Corbett's prose can sound a bit pretentious off the bat), but as I got further in I started scrutinizing my own characters so much that the margins were soon overflowing with hasty scribbles. I even filled up the four blank pages in the back of the book with walls of text – I just had to think things through with a pen. Certain sections made me panic a bit too much: I would think "Oh no! My story is missing this KEY ELEMENT" only to realize that yes, that element exists, I'd just forgotten about it – or failed to draw it out. But that's what made the book so invaluable: it really forced me to step back and assess things as objectively as possible (even though I know that's always an oxymoron when you're talking about your own work). Since so much of the character building process comes from understanding how people tick, Corbett naturally delves into some more philosophical questions about human nature, and I found myself appreciating his point of view more often than not. I especially liked what he had to say about politics, religion, and the other hot-button issues that so commonly tangle people up, but are an inescapable part of who we are and why we behave the way we do. Judging the antagonists in your story prevents you from understanding them (as in life), and turns them into caricatures – you need to be willing to see the world through their eyes, as abhorrent as their actions or viewpoint might be to you. As Chesterton put it: "A good novel tells us the truth about people; a bad novel tells us the truth about its author."Each chapter ends with a series of exercises, some of which were more helpful than others. But I definitely intend to return to a few of them once I'm in the revision stages of my own beastly manuscript (God help me).

  • Peter Lewis
    2019-06-05 06:58

    I've been a fan of David Corbett since reading Blood of Paradise, and subsequently Do They Know I'm Running? and Done For a Dime. Each of these books is notable for the depth and vibrancy of the characters, who typically inhabit a dark, desperate and violent world. So, it was with great eagerness that I bought "The Art of Character," which ought to be a standard reference work for any writer, screenwriter or playwright. I've also noticed that "The Art of Character" has affected my reading, as now I can't embrace new characters in fiction -- or even nonfiction -- without measuring them against Corbett's standards. Which is a good thing; it allows me to enjoy interesting protagonists, villains, and supporting cast members all the more. Corbett's gritty fiction, much of it set south of the U.S.-Mexican border, might not appeal to everyone, but "The Art of Character" is a master class for novice and experienced writers alike. Highly recommended.

  • Gerry Wilson
    2019-06-09 09:19

    Corbett's book is the most in-depth study of character I've ever read. His thorough treatment of character genesis and development is exhaustive. I often re-read passages, wishing I could commit them to memory. It's a book I'll turn to again as a resource, particularly while the characters for a new book project are taking shape. The Art of Character is an invaluable resource for fiction writers.

  • Olga Tsygankova
    2019-06-09 07:12

    As the author himself states in the book, what works like magic for one writer, falls completely flat for another. Well, that is, unfortunately, my story with this book. I've read it through and through, tried a lot of exercises, but none of them seemed to work or result in any usable piece of writing. Probably, the author and I exist in parallel writing universes. That being said, the book is well-written, goes much deeper than the usual "write that story" lot, and provides plenty of useful insights into psychology of characterization.

  • Dan
    2019-06-05 07:55

    I bought this book without reading anything about it. What a good surprise! Deep, full of useful tips and thoughts. Very helpful.

  • Shawn Scarber Deggans
    2019-06-09 07:58

    An excellent guide for creating characterCorbett's guide is more than just some paint-by-numbers attempt at creating story character, nor does it suggest a number of details or attributes needed to make a fictional character work. The Art of Character is an examination of the process for creating emotionally rich and deeply engaging story people. With meaningful examples from film, television, novels, and plays Corbett shows how the aspects of fictional character development work. A number of helpful exercises are included with each chapter to help further illustrate the process and enlighten the writer. I would definitely recommend this book for any author wanting a better understanding of how character relates to plot and how characters can relate to each other in meaningful ways. This will be the book I turn to again and again for story creation directions.

  • Keenan Powell
    2019-05-28 04:55

    This book is advanced level characterization. I've read a lot of how-to books and I've attended a lot of seminars and they all sound the same after a while. But this book is different. It explains the process of accessing one's characters in depth, of knowing them as well as you would know your best friend of twenty years, not as you would observe the stranger in a cafe. There is nothing formulaic about it. What you get out of the material will directly reflect what you're willing to put into it. So make some time to settle in with this book, whip out your highlighter, keep a writing pad and/or laptop nearby and get to work. You'll be glad you did.PS Don't lend it out. You won't get it back.

  • Steven
    2019-05-29 00:55

    Not surprisingly, because they are the ones who write based on craft, Corbett borrows heavily from the Film and TV writing bibles, and also from numerous psychologists, for his source material to help flesh out characters in a way that is designed to make them seem like real people. He has the further goal to also make the characters function well in plots, and to that end his emphasis is to place the characters in scenes and see how they respond. The exercises are designed to put you to work along those lines: create characters that have the heft and surprise of real people and plop them into scenes and see how they perform. The exercises are hard work but will yield rewards. If you struggle with characters, or are just looking for a fresh approach, this book is a gold mine.

  • Jessica Capelle
    2019-06-14 03:57

    After attending a class presented by the author, I knew I had to get this book. I had to digest it very slowly because it really resonated with me. Now I plan to go back & use the exercises with my current manuscript. This book will have a permanent place on my desk along with only a handful of other craft books. The insight into character and how to effectively mold your characters and use them to shape your plot is superb.

  • AO
    2019-06-21 05:01

    "Look to the writers you admire, study them, learn from them, obsess on their work like a jealous lover. Gain a sense for the relentless search for worth in their writing, the reckless adventure of a meaningful life, not just the thrills and giggles. Attend to detail and steal wisely. Beyond that, you're on your own." - David Corbett

  • Robert
    2019-05-29 03:57

    I decided not to finish. I prefer a book centered on books. I almost said centered on writing, but screen writing is writing, and the author indicates in the title he is going there. I just didn't enjoy it as much as a book that addresses books only. My bias. And I like movies. Go figure.

  • Karen Chung
    2019-06-15 04:21

    "Everything starts with a *desire*."

  • Kristen Lamb
    2019-06-17 07:11

    A must-have for writers. Tremendous resource and a beautiful read.

  • Jenny Holmström
    2019-06-24 01:22

    A book well worth reading. Great tips and excercises.

  • محمد
    2019-06-01 07:04

    هذا الكتاب لا يستحق إلا الخمسة نجوم، وفي ذلك سأطيل الشرح في الريفيو بعد أن أفرغ منه :)

  • Bill Adams111
    2019-06-17 02:11

    The first 120 pages, and the last 65 pages of this book are worth reading. Those are packed with insights. In the middle, the book degenerates into long, annotated lists without much analysis.Corbett cites The Art of Dramatic Writing, by Lajos Egri, which itemizes how to construct a character in terms of physical appearance, psychological traits, and sociological factors. Corbett spends 80 pages going over Egri’s list in detail that adds little to its understanding. (Is your character comfortable with sex? Does your character have a good fashion sense? What are your character’s favorite foods?). The point of this drawn-out exercise is to expand the range of choices you might consider when crafting a character, a worthy consideration, but his instruction is swamped by tedious examples from books, TV, and movies. Do we really need to be reminded that James Joyce took seriously the religion of his characters?Part III is another long list, this time of all the possible roles a character can take, such as protagonist, antagonist, the steadfast character, the sleepwalker, the ghost, the betrayer and other Joseph Campbell-y reductionistic stereotypes. There are other similar lists out there, equally informative (e.g., Story Structure Architect, by V.L. Schmidt.)So let’s look at the “good” 185 pages of the book, at the beginning and at the end. In the beginning section, Corbett starts with the classical, Aristotelian character arc but comes to a startling conclusion. Revelation of the character’s hidden weakness or Achilles’ Heel, does not result in epiphany, as Aristotle suggested, but in shame. This was an insight for me, and I realized that the whole notion of the epiphany is an intellectual artifice. Shame is a much more likely reaction. The character must then find a way to believe in his/her self-worth again to overcome that shame, or at least deal with it, as it’s possible that shame can never be undone. Corbett’s discussion of secrets is likewise insightful. All characters have secrets, even secondary characters, and that’s a good way to animate a character and drive a story. Secrets produce contradictions: a hugely useful insight. The use of contradictory traits in the same character is an old trick, hard to do, but Corbett makes it seem reasonable and interesting with his examples (love v. duty, addiction v. propriety, poverty v. pretension, sex v. everything, etc.) The section on “voice,” both the narrator’s and the character’s (often they are different) was disappointing, but perhaps there is nothing to say about voice. Everybody wants it but nobody can say what it is or how to get it. The section on dialog was only cursory, but there was a useful list of nuts-and-bolts techniques. The exercises at the end of each chapter seemed formulaic but I imagine if you actually did them (I didn’t), they’d be helpful. The lessons of the book apply equally well to fiction, TV and movies, as the subtitle suggests, but aside from a brief and dubious discussion of the camera as narrator in visual storytelling, the book is not customized for screenwriting.Overall, I’d say this book has useful reminders about what’s possible in developing character, tips that prevent you from falling into a rut, and is spiced by some insights into character development, and it all adds up to a compendium of information on the art of character that is worth having.

  • Anne
    2019-06-22 09:15

    If you're looking for a quick read, this is not it. In fact it's rather a slow read. However, the insights it provides are invaluable to writers - way beyond what does your character desire, far past making lists of character traits. This book explains how to plumb the inner worlds of your characters to make your fiction sing with depth.

  • Domenico Saridis
    2019-05-29 02:13

    This book is a great tool for every aspiring writer. It coud be called "How to develop a character 101". All the chapters are short (running from five to fifteen pages) and on point, with examples drawn from books, movies, and TV shows alike. I highly recommend it.

  • Kirkley
    2019-06-07 08:14

    Really filled to the brim with insights and writing exercises on character-building. Corbett has a thorough understanding of his topic and brings a lot of wisdom to the endeavor. It’s highly recommended to have a good grasp of story structure before reading this book.

  • Trent
    2019-06-21 01:55

    While there is tons of content and useful exercises, overall the writing was a tad dry for my taste.

  • christina
    2019-06-21 06:02

    Outstanding. One of the most productive, articulate, helpful, and explicit books on writing that I've ever read. I'm looking forward to reading and working from it all year.

  • Sarah Anthony
    2019-05-28 06:23

    If you’re stuck on how to build or establish your characters, this book covers everything. A good guide to have on hand.

  • Schp
    2019-05-29 09:16

    As far as I can judge, the book provides sound and practical advice mixed with some questionable traditional or original theory and beliefs. Good to have at hand!

  • K. Parker
    2019-06-10 06:04

    As a writer who is more on the "plotter" spectrum than the "pantser" spectrum, I routinely struggle with creating riveting characters. In my stories, they become plot puppets---pawns in a game of chess that I solely control, which made for lackluster storytelling. In my quest to become a better writer, I searched high and low, trying to find a book on character that would give me the most comprehensive overview possible. Ladies and gentlemen, writers of all skill levels... if you buy one book on character development in your life, I highly recommend this one.David Corbett's The Art of Character: Creating Memorable Characters for Fiction, Film, and TV is an excellent guide to creating vivid, memorable characters for whatever writing project you are working on. Utilizing examples ranging from Shakespeare's Macbeth to television's hit series "Breaking Bad," Corbett's advice is very comprehensive in all the right places. With exercises at the end of nearly every chapter and his ability to breakdown intimidating concepts into digestible bits, he manages, beautifully, to answer any and every question about character that you might have while, at the same time, leaving you with room to explore the concept of character on your own in other books. He will take you on a journey of developing your characters from the ground up---from conceiving them and giving them desires, to creating secondary characters and crafting voices for your characters.Sometimes, he goes beyond character to discuss literature itself, settling the literary-versus-genre-fiction debate through his discussion on character: "The problem lies not with genre but with formula, which consists of seeing genre conventions as restrictions rather than mere guidelines, ends in themselves rather than possibilities. The key, always, is to escape the restrictions of story by giving the characters the freedom to surprise, to step outside the story so they can live it on their own terms while still honoring the core themes and events the story demands" (Corbett 18). Corbett's deep understanding of character is what makes this book so rich and valuable. As Elizabeth Brundage says her in review of the book, The Art of Character is not a "writing by numbers" book that will leave you with a perfect character by connecting dots on a paper-thin picture. It will ask you not only to look deeply within your character fears, life, motivations, etc., but also your fears, life, motivations, etc. so that your character can be as lifelike as possible.However, a word of caution: While I do recommend this book for writers of all skill levels, Corbett does assume that you've had experience writing with characters of some sort, and feels as though he's talking to an adult writer at times. He assumes that you've at least heard of first-, second-, and third-person point of view, dialogue, and the absolute basics associated with character. In drawing from life experience to create characters, Corbett also reassures his readers not to get discouraged if their lives so far have seemed uneventful to the point of having trouble writing about moments such as their "worst failure," "worst illness," "most shattering loss other than death," "favorite coworker," "least favorite coworker," etc. At best, if you're still in college and can't really attest to "coworkers" in an actual office yet, draw from your experience in school. Who was the best in group projects? Who was the worst? Have you ever had to stay home from school for sickness? But more importantly, being honest with yourself will help you be honest with your characters. That is the takeaway here.The Art of Character is one of those books, yet again, that you will have to read twice: once for the basic gist, the second for a deeper understanding. And be sure on that second read to do the exercises and take careful notes. I highly recommend it to intermediate and advanced writers, as well as any ambitious beginning writers who aren't afraid of getting down and dirty with character.

  • Paris Chanel
    2019-06-23 02:19

    Writers possess only four tools: research, experience, empathy, and imagination. Fortunately, whole worlds can be built from them.This is such an excellent read. There's so much information and useful exercises to take in. If you're not into annotating books, you def need to keep a notebook handy for note taking, or else you'll have to invest in a bunch of post-it flags.

  • Charles Garard
    2019-06-22 08:13

    Like many of you who are authors as well as readers, I am slow when reading a book like this because I am likewise engaged in other activities -- writing my own novels or promoting them on various sites, which takes a remarkable amount of time. This was my second reading of David Corbett's THE ART OF CHARACTER: CREATING MEMORABLE CHARACTERS FOR FICTION, FILM, AND TV, checking my original highlighting and notations in order to re-emphasize them or to mark something that I has missed the first time.This was given to me by my colleague Jeanne Stahl, PhD Psychology, with the attached note: "Happy Birthday, Chukk. This book received several excellent reviews from well-known writers, so I thought you might find something interesting in it!" Yes, I found more than a little of interest both times as this author plants nuggets on every page and hands us the shovel. Reading this book, however, is not enough; swimming through it might be more accurate as one highlights (often heavily) phrases, writes words and even a definition in the margin, and draws an X or a large asterisk in the spaces -- i.e., defacing one's own copy. Obviously, this is not quick read; this is a reference tool as valuable as your American Heritage Dictionary.I have called this a DSM-5 for writers -- a tome thoughtfully and thoroughly pieced together by a literary author, psychologist, and philosopher. He gives us hope that the written word (on the page or on an e-reader, as scripts for films and on TV) is not dead.