A Writer's Guide to Characterization by Victoria Lynn Schmidt
A Writer’s Guide to Characterization is one of several books by Victoria Lynn Schmidt focusing on different aspects of the storyteller’s craft. Its blurb talks about dealing with archetypes, heroic journeys, and dynamic character development, holding out the promise of a style of character writing with similar mythical boldness to Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
Schmidt’s books often provide templates and guidance for using them in building a story. Unlike books such as Save the Cat that claim to provide a single framework for all stories to work off, Schmidt provides a range of different patterns and encourages the reader to play with them. In this case, the templates are for different types of characters, with a focus on what motivates them, how they interact with the world, and in particular how they interact with each other. It’s an approach that defines characters as much through their relationships with each other as through anything fundamental to the individual.
Should You Buy?
This is a book that’s useful in providing archetypal characters and relationships to build stories around. Its focus on defining characters in relation to each other and not in isolation is a useful reminder that no-one exists in a vacuum. But it’s a not a book that provides the introduction to fundamentals its title promises, and it has some awkward assumptions baked in. Useful, but to be used with care.