Dynamic Characters : How to Create Personalities That Keep Readers Captivated


Dynamic Characters : How to Create Personalities That Keep Readers Captivated



By Nancy Kress, College at Brockport alumna and former faculty member.


A truly unforgettable story is defined by its characters. Their motivations, their changes, their actions compel us to read on, anxiously trying to discern what will happen next.

In Dynamic Characters, award-winning author and Writer's Digest columnist Nancy Kress explores the fundamental relationship between characterization and plot, illustrating how vibrant, well-constructed characters act as the driving force behind an exceptional story.

Kress balances her writing instruction with hands-on checklists to help you build strong characters from the outside in. Blending physical, emotional and mental characterization, you'll learn to create characters that initiate exciting action, react to tense situations, make physical and emotional transformations, and power the plot from beginning to end."



Publication Date


Publication Information

Cincinnati, Ohio : Writer's Digest Books, 2004, c1998.

264 pages ; 23 cm.


Creative Writing | Fiction




Located in Drake Library at: PN

CONTENTS: Introduction: Who are these people, and who needs them? -- Pt. 1. Creating strong and Believable Characters : The Externals. Beauty and/or the Beast : choosing descriptive details -- What's in a name? : using monikers to convey character -- Zip code, please : the role of setting in creating character -- What did you say you do? : using the world of work to enhance characterization -- Say what? : characterizing through dialogue -- The artful deception : making dialogue read naturally (even though it's not natural) -- When less is more : pruning character descriptors to a manageable number -- Don't I know you? : basing characters on real people -- Pt. 2. Creating Strong and Believable Characters : The Internals. She's got an attitude : using personal thoughts to characterize -- Lost in thought : making clear what, when and how your character Is thinking -- The Pygmalion trap : how to not let your assumptions torpedo characterization -- Airy dreams and solid news : how to use dreams and newscasts to enhance characterization -- The bad guys : how to make your villains as readable as your heroes -- Do I want to know you? : how to create an unsympathetic protagonist without driving your readers away -- The intelligence dossier : a wrap-up system for investigating your character -- Pt. 3. Character and Plot. The yellow brick road : how to start anywhere and arrive at plot -- Fight! Fight! Fight! : when conflict leads to violence -- Whose story is it, anyway? : how point of view begins with character and leads to plot -- Also featuring : secondary characters and plot construction -- The characters, they are a-changing : how to make character change a strong element of the plot -- Seeing is believing : a concrete example of how character, change and plot intertwine -- "...But it really happened!" : basing plots on real-life events -- Archetypal attractions : using rich old plots in rich new ways -- I see a pattern emerging : the connections among characters, plot and theme -- The characters and the writer.

Dynamic Characters : How to Create Personalities That Keep Readers Captivated