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Breathing Life Into Your Characters

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2006

    A great character building guidebook

    As a mythologist who works with archetypes, I highly recommend Dr. Rachel Ballon¿s book, ¿Breathing Life Into Your Characters¿. Dr. Ballon¿s book offers a professional¿s insight into what makes characters tick. For the writer, director, or actor, this is invaluable information to help shape your story characters. I have attended seminars at the American Film Institute, UCLA, StoryCon, the Writers Store, and many other venues where Rachel leads people through exercises in understanding characters. I have listened afterwards to their comments. ¿Amazing, I didn¿t know I had that in me.¿ ¿I was afraid at first, but it really opened up a wellspring of emotion.¿ ¿The free-flow helped me free my ideas.¿ ¿There was something my character was hiding and I couldn¿t get past it. Dr. Ballon¿s exercise helped me dig deeper and find the real motivation.¿ These are the sorts of comments her work elicits. The layout of the book makes it easy to locate certain character types and flaws and then goes into clear detail about how to use these flaws to create believable story characters. Buy this book, read it through for a better understanding of human psychology, then come back to it again and again to fine-tune your characters.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2005

    As a writer, this is the most important book I've read

    I have a shelf full of writing books, but this is the one that has pushed my writing to a new level. If getting to know yourself better appeals to you--and if you are a writer, it should--Ballon's exercises amount to therapeutic devices that translate 'method acting' into 'method writing.' Actors are taught to draw on their own experiences to find the emotions their characters need to express; apply that concept to your fictional characters and you will be amazed. You can assign physical attributes and personality quirks and occupations and family histories to your characters until the cows come home, but nothing will make them as real as giving them your fear and anger and self-doubt and sadness. Ballon encourages you to recall personal experiences that relate to whatever dilemmas your characters are facing. This not only draws out buried emotions you need to release, but also gives you great things for your characters to think, feel, and say. Some of the exercises should be done at home, alone, with a glass of wine; others are fine on a hot summer day under an umbrella at Starbucks. Some examples: I used one exercise to ratchet up an argument between my hero and heroine. The question was, 'What do you care about enough that you would die for it?' What came out blew me away. It made the scene a thousand times more passionate and more interesting and revealed so much more about both characters. Another exercise, in a chapter titled 'Dysfunctional Families: Secrets, Myths, and Lies,' showed me how to mine the complexities of the relationship between my heroine and her mother by exposing the mother's jealousy of her husband's bond with his 'golden child.' I plan to use this book whenever I have a flat scene that doesn't quite work...all the while laying to rest my inner demons!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 26, 2009

    Innovative and Compelling!

    I just got this book as a birthday present and read it over the weekend very quickly. Now I go back and read again to really think about the exercises and create a personality analysis sheet for each of my characters. It is a powerful book and will assist me with future writing projects. Thanks! From Colorado

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2010

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