This nonfiction book teaches writers how to develop characters for fiction and nonfiction in a step-by-sep process.
Growing Great Characters From the Ground Up lists 70 examples from past and present literature covering a wide variety of genres to illustrate key concepts. Each chapter ends with exercises, which if followed, are designed to help readers grow their own characters. The book ends with a glossary, sample query letter and list of questions that can be used during the editing process.
What's a Character?
The old chicken and egg joke could well be rewritten for writers as follows: Which came first, the character or the plot? The answer is that it doesn't really matter. What does matter is understanding that stories must revolve around people. That's because we humans never tire of trying to figure out who we are in relation to each other and our surroundings. So if you have a basic concept in mind — for a novel, short story, creative nonfiction book, biography, etc. — this book will help you determine who will populate your story. If you're beginning with a certain character in mind, this book will help you develop the character and in turn, the story, by getting you to focus on what problems the character will have to surmount.
If you already have both a character and basic plot in mind, you might be tempted to start writing and let the tale grow as it will. While some famous writers dig in as such, most of us would hit rock almost immediately, having no idea yet as to who we're writing about or why. So instead, let your story incubate for a while as you read. Not only will you give your story the time it needs to gradually expand, but the time you'll need to plan for the actual writing. After all, creating and developing characters is remarkably similar to planting a garden, in that success depends on how well you prepare, and the more thorough the groundwork, the fewer the errors and the more spectacular the outcome. You'll end up with terrific characters while cutting your rewrite time in half.
Now that we're ready to begin, what better question to ask than, What is a character, anyway?