Writing the Intimate Character by Jordan Rosenfield
Level: Intermediate and up. Rosenfield writes in a long form style which pays attention to every detail. A reader without experience in writing may be overwhelmed with the amount of things to juggle. Experienced writers will appreciate the depth of thought and extension of ideas.
Writing the Intimate Character: Create Unique, Compelling Characters Through Master of Point of View, by Jordan Rosenfield is an expansive overview of how to dig deep into character creation, motivation, and making your audience care. Rosenfield covers a wide array of techniques and considerations, all within the theme of broadening the reader’s tool kit for making great characters. This is an excellent resource for intermediate writers - those who have taken a few writing classes or already read a few other craft books.
Some of Rosenfield’s best and most valuable work comes when explaining minutia and details. For instance, chapter two is an overview of narrative voice and authorial intrusion. While many resources will only define these terms and give examples, Writing the Intimate Character goes one step further in showing how to identify and sort types of authorial intrusion. The book uses both classical and contemporary examples, to show how techniques have weathered or changed. This chapter also shows a writer how to differentiate between thoughts and narrative voice. Chapter six continues this trend by showing how to tighten tension in each different point of view, giving specific tips.
Another notable feature of this book is that there are a few chapters on points of view and narrative styles which are outside the box. The chapter on unreliable narrators for instance will be of use to writers looking for a new challenge. The chapter which explores forms that are not at all traditional, such as the first-person plural or chorus point of view, is something that isn’t seen too often in resources. These modes are mentioned but rarely delved too deeply into.
Finally, Rosenfield provides several exercises for writers to try at the end of each chapter, usually between two and three options. Sometimes these exercises are as simple as answering a series of questions in a character’s voice, sometimes they are more complex, such as creating an entire chorus, including who they are, why they are together, and what their collective goal is. These exercises, while simplistic, do a good job of helping the reader put the chapter’s lessons into practice.
This book might be excellent for an advanced creative writing class to work through together. While it lacks worldbuilding considerations, much of a story is wrapped up in its characters.
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