Book Review: Elements of Fiction Writing - Characters & Viewpoint, by Orson Scott Card

For science fiction fans, the name Orson Scott Card is held in high esteem. The author of books like Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead has won both the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award, among many others. So it stands to reason that a book on writing might be worthwhile.

Elements of Fiction Writing--Characters & Viewpoint is a book for authors of all genres, who want to breathe life into their characters. Card helps the writer invent characters (part 1), construct characters (part 2), and teaches how to make characters perform (part 3).

Card, in conversational style, explains the ins and outs of character in ways that new writers can understand, while experienced writers still find something new.

From keeping a "character bible" to raising the emotional stakes, from transformations to the finesse of which tense to use, Card covers a lot of ground. Not sure about whether to try writing an unreliable narrator? (or maybe you feel the need for a definition of it) Or maybe there's a need for explanation of the differences between minor characters and walk-ons. You'll find it here.

I like this part of the back cover copy: "This book is a set of tools: literary crowbars, chisels, mallets, pliers and tongs. Use them to pry, chip, yank and sift good characters out of the place where they live in your memory, your imagination, and your soul."

For more about Orson Scott Card, check out his main website, with links to all his online activities, or his fascinating site, Hatrack River. Writers might also be interested in his two-day writing class, or his week-long writing boot camp. Both sessions are held in August.

Need more book recommendations? Check them out here.


  1. A link to this post came into my inbox today (May 13). I'm frustrated with Blogger's outage and wanted to see if I could comment. So, Hi. If this works.-Stacy

  2. Isn't that weird? I wonder if they're reposting all the previous posts. Your guest post was supposed to be up today, but I have no idea how soon they're going to get it all fixed. Major bummer. At least the comments worked.




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