Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Writing Great Characters by Michael Halperin, Ph.D.

Writing Great Characters: The Psychology of Character Development in Screenplays by Michael Halperin, Ph.D. is an interesting book. Not quite what I had expected. The exercises focus on applying the ideas in the book not so much to your own writing as to the analysis of film. His perspective seems more Freudian than Jungian, overall. Not a bad thing but it’s something to consider going into it. Sometimes he references films, gives a summary of the plot but gets some of the details incorrect. Not a crisis but it does make his contentions somewhat suspect. Most disappointing is the editing where quotations that include ellipses are inevitably followed by an erroneously placed double space. In other words, when quoting and inserting an ellipses, the word that immediately follows the ellipses has a gap in it . . . so mething like this. And since I seem to be on a “poorly edited” kick lately, I may as well admit that this was annoying but not critical. I think that there’s an argument for anyone who wants to give their characters some psychological depth to read through this book (it can be read in a single day) but I don’t know that most experienced writers will not have already learned the ideas presented in the book. Not an essential book, the information is good enough to merit recommendation.

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