For Christmas in our house, everyone gets a few books. Even me. : ) In December, I was browsing in a used bookstore, and I came across Fiction is Folks: How to Create Unforgettable Characters, by Robert Newton Peck.
It's an old book. Out of print. Sometimes books like these can be lemons, but then I read that the author also wrote A Day No Pigs Would Die. I decided to take a chance on it. Besides, it was only a dollar.
I'm glad I did. There are few craft books that are difficult to put down. This is one of them. Peck is funny. Sarcastic. Entertaining. And in between the entertaining words, the reader finds Peck has hammered home every one of his points. The subtitle is absolutely correct: Characters are what readers remember, what editors look for, and what turn aspiring writers into published authors.
In Fiction is Folks, writers will learn:
~how to use yourself as a character--and when not to
~how to write about people the way they actually are--instead of how they ought to be
~what homework you need to do on each of your characters--and how to use the results
~"narrative drag"--what it is and how to cure it
~how to create believable villains
~how to turn what bugs you into a salable idea
~how to take a short story and turn it into a novel
~why you should invite trouble into your story.
Really. You should find this book. Buy it used on Amazon, or check out PaperbackSwap or BookMooch. I couldn't find out if Peck is still living (he was born in 1928), but he's a fascinating guy. He's the first of his entire family to read and write. And Fred Rogers (yes, that Mr. Rogers) was his best man. Add this book to your library.