Characters, Emotion, and Viewpoint: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Dynamic Characters and Effective Viewpoints by Nancy Kress Book Review

Review by: dancingonrain.


Synopsis on the back of the book:

“How do you create a main character readers won’t forget?  How do you write a book in multiple-third-person point of view without confusing your readers (or yourself)?  How do you plant essential information about a character’s past into a story?  Write Great Fiction: Characters, Emotion, and Viewpoint by award-winning author Nancy Kress answers all of these questions and more!  This accessible book is filled with interactive exercises and valuable advice that teaches you how to:

1.) Choose and execute the best point of view for your story.

2.)  Create 3-dimensional and believable characters

3.) Develop your characters’ emotions.

4.) Create realistic love, fight, and death scenes.

5.)  Use frustration to motivate your characters and drive your story.

With dozens of excerpts from some of today’s most popular writers, this book provides you with the techniques you need to create characters and stories sure to linger in the hearts and minds of agents, editors, and readers long after they’ve finished your book.”


I read this book cover-to-cover at the library, but  I also don’t think that was necessary.  Someone could have easily picked and chose certain topics or chapters that s/he specifically needed help with and only read those sections.

All-in-all the book does cover a lot of topics and I did learn a few new insights here and there.  For example, in one chapter, Kress talked about how frustration is generally the highest motivation for a character.  Yes, many other things can and will motivate that character, but in the end, s/he generally acts because they’re frustrated in some way.  So what would frustrate your character and drive them to act/behave in a certain way?  Kress obviously  explained it better in the book, but that was another way of explaining character motivation that I hadn’t heard before.

If I had to choose a number one strength of this book, it would be the exercises at the end of each chapter.  There was usually 3-6 exercises (most of them in-depth) and they definitely helped me broaden my insight to my characters and/or plot (or whatever else the chapter had discussed).

While this book did have many useful exercises and gave me some more insight, I feel like some chapters didn’t spend enough time on the topics discussed for that section.  Yes, this book went through a lot of topics, but because of that I felt that some of the topics were given the short-end of the stick.  I don’t know if I’d buy this book, but if you’re near a library, check it out and see for yourself.  It would be a nice reference to have here and there.