Breathing Life into Your Charactersby Rachel Ballon
Psychotherapist Dr. Rachel Ballon provides the answers! She teaches writers
Writers often ask themselves the following questions: What if my novel stops dead in its tracks because my characters seem stereotypical, unrealistic or mysterious? How can I create characters so real that readers believe in them? How can I make my story more credible and interesting?
Psychotherapist Dr. Rachel Ballon provides the answers! She teaches writers how to use the principles of psychology to understand their characters better than they ever thought possible. Through a mix of instruction, examples from film and fiction, and writing and visualization exercises, readers learn how to tap into their own stories and emotions to create realistic, complex characters.
Chapters focus on various aspects of characterization, such as:creating back stories and case historiesexploring motivations-both the character's and the writer'sunderstanding what makes a character tickcreating villains by exploring one's "shadow self"showing a character's emotional growth and transformationand much more!
Employing these methods, readers will begin to create more interesting, unique and realistic characters-story people that make their fiction more credible and interesting.
- F+W Media
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- 6.14(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.91(d)
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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.
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!
Breathing Life into your Characters How to give your characters emotional and psychological depth Rachel Ballon, PhD ©2003 Writers Digest Press ISBN 1-58297-181-1 (ppbk.) 238 pp. plus index The author is a psychologist and obviously knows a great deal about psychology and emotions. The book is NOT well written because the author repeats statements and ideas over and over, sometimes two or three times within the same paragraph. If you can put up with the repetition, which feels like Ballon doesn’t trust her readers to understand, or is padding the book to produce more pages, you can learn some facts about writing better characters.
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