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Breathing Life Into Your Characters
     

Breathing Life Into Your Characters

5.0 1
by Rachel Ballon
 

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Create Convincing Characters That Readers—and Editors—Can't Resist!

It's the question that eternally plagues all good writers: How can you describe the thoughts and feelings of characters who have backgrounds or psychological aberrations with which you have no personal experience?

How can you describe the feelings of a drug addict if you've never

Overview

Create Convincing Characters That Readers—and Editors—Can't Resist!

It's the question that eternally plagues all good writers: How can you describe the thoughts and feelings of characters who have backgrounds or psychological aberrations with which you have no personal experience?

How can you describe the feelings of a drug addict if you've never been one? How can you write about being a prisoner if you've never been to jail? You can do all the research you want, but the question still remains: How do you convincingly portray characters if you've never lived in their skin?

In Breathing Life Into Your Characters, writing consultant and professional psychotherapist Rachel Ballon, Ph. D., shows you how to get in touch with the thoughts and feelings necessary to truly understand your characters—no matter what their background or life experiences. She'll show you how to:

  • Develop a psychological profile for every character
  • Turn archetypes into conflicted characters
  • Think like a criminal to convincingly write one
  • Reveal personalities through the use of nonverbal communication
In addition, you'll learn how to effectively use Ballon's "Method Writing" system—taught previously only in her writing workshops—to explore your own feelings, memories, and emotions to create characters of astonishing depth and complexity!

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781599633701
Publisher:
F+W Media
Publication date:
03/01/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
File size:
901 KB

Meet the Author

Rachel Ballon, Ph.D., is a licensed psychotherapist and the founder and director of the Writer's Center in Los Angeles. She is the author of four other books for Writer's Digest. She has reviewed hundreds of scripts for major Hollywood studios. A master teacher and noted success coach, she has taught as an adjunct professor at USC School of Cinema and Television. She lives in Los Angeles.

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4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
samcivy More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Aspen2crk More than 1 year ago
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