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THE ART OF CHARACTER

Creating Memorable Characters, for Fiction, Film and TV

Dear David,
I have finished The Art of Character, and will no doubt read it several times more. Couldn't put it down. I love learning more about my craft, and this was a treat. I'm sure my next two books, currently in the planning stage, will be far richer for it. Full of ideas. It was not only educational, it was full of wisdom for life.

Thank you,
Anne Perry
International Bestselling Historical Novelist


The Art of Character
Now Available
from Penguin Books

"The Art of Character is a writer's bible that will lead to your character's soul."
—Bestselling Author Elizabeth Brundage

"David Corbett has written a wise, inspiring love letter to all the imaginary creatures inside our minds."
—Bestselling Author Cheryl Strayed

"Indispensable. Few are the writer's guides that are written as beautifully, cogently, and intelligently as a well-wrought novel. This is one of those books."
—Edgar-Winning Author Megan Abbott

Read more praise

Read an excerpt

See David's free, two-hour online video workshop titled "The Outer Limits of Inner Life: Bringing Character to Life by Looking Within" (David's lecture begins at the 10:20 mark.)

Buy the book


With its:

  • Depth of insight into human behavior and its artistic rendering;
  • Thematic unity, emphasizing the inextricable link between story and character;
  • Wealth of details, from fiction, film and TV;
  • Practicality, with an eye always on the how of characterization, not just the what:

THE ART OF CHARACTER is destined to become the one desktop reference every writer requires on the craft of characterization.

THE ART OF CHARACTER delves deeply and thoughtfully into the human heart of characterization, showing students and readers how to plumb the rich source material in their own lives and the world around them to fashion credible, compelling characters. No book on character has ever addressed this material as profoundly, extensively or pragmatically.

Most importantly, unlike mere craft manuals and how-to books, THE ART OF CHARACTER is elegantly written: a thoughtful, literate gem. It is a gratifying and illuminating—a delight to read—and will not just instruct but inspire.

Corbett, a New York Times Notable Author of four critically acclaimed novels praised specifically for their vivid, compelling and realistic characters, is singularly qualified to address the issue of characterization; he has taught to enthusiastic student response for years at some of the most prestigious writing programs in the country, including the UCLA Extension Writers' Program, The San Francisco Writers Grotto, 826 Valencia, and Chuck Palahniuk's Litreactor, as well as at numerous conferences and through Book Passage, one of the country's premier independent bookstores.


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Penguin Books, Paperback, January 2013, ISBN-13: 978-0143121572


ADDITIONAL PRAISE FOR THE ART OF CHARACTER

"David Corbett has written a wise, inspiring love letter to all the imaginary creatures inside our minds—so we might conjure them whole on the page. I predict that massively underscored copies of
The Art of Character will rest close at hand on writers' desks for many years to come."
—Cheryl Strayed, Best Selling Author of Wild and Torch

"Corbett's The Art of Character is no "how to" book or "writing by numbers" manual. It is an artful testament to the writers' credo—that a story is only as affecting and meaningful as the characters who tell it—that writing, essentially, is character. Corbett writes with the grace and authority of a seasoned professional, but offers much more than the usual inventory of method and strategy. With clarity and compassion, he gets to the very thing that lies deep within us, that longing we share to discover that one distinct and authentic voice. The Art of Character is itself a work of art, an indispensible resource for writers of any genre, and a pedagogical tool for teachers of writing at any level."

   —Elizabeth Brundage, Best Selling Author of A Stranger Like You and The Doctor's Wife

"This act of generosity and wisdom from a very good writer will help anyone who is staring at a blank page, any day, any time.
Highly recommended."
—Luis Alberto Urrea, Pulitzer Finalist and Bestselling Author of
The Hummingbird's Daughter

"David Corbett's The Art of Character offers a deep inquiry into the creation of character for the novice writer, with valuable nuggets of wisdom for the seasoned storyteller. If you are a writer, it should be on your desk."
—Jacqueline Winspear, National Best Selling Author of
A Lesson in Secrets

"David Corbett's The Art of Character belongs on every writer's shelf beside Elizabeth George's Write Away and Stephen King's On Writing. An invaluable resource for both the novice and the experienced hand, it's as much fun to read as a great novel."

   —Deborah Crombie, New York Times best-selling author of Water Like a Stone

"The topic of character development begins and ends with David Corbett's The Art of Character. This is the book on the subject, destined to stand among the writings of John Gardner, Joseph Campbell, and the others of that select few whose work is fundamental to understanding the craft of storytelling."
   —Craig Clevenger, author of The Contortionist's Handbook and Dermaphoria

"David Corbett, himself a master crafter of riveting and remarkable narratives, delivers up in this highly readable guide, a smorgasbord of smart examples of memorable characters from literature and popular culture, to create an addictive and helpful primer on this most central of narrative ingredients. Clear-headed and confident, Corbett takes us through the steps in a manner that resists formula while at the same time demystifying a process that has likely daunted every writer since Homer."

   —Robin Hemley, Award-Winning Author of Turning Life into Fiction

"David Corbett has combined his unique talents as a gifted writer and an extraordinary teacher to create a superb resource on character development. Deftly crafted and impeccably researched, The Art of Character is a thoughtful and insightful book that is immensely readable and practical. Suitable for beginners to best-selling authors, The Art of Character should be on every serious writer's shelf next to Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, and Stephen King's On Writing. Highly recommended."
   —Sheldon Siegel, New York Times Best Selling Author of Perfect Alibi

"Indispensable. Few are the writer's guides that are written as beautifully, cogently, and intelligently as a well-wrought novel. This is one of those books."

   —Megan Abbott, Edgar-Winning author of The End of Everything and Dare Me

"It is rare to find the deep philosophical questions of literature (and life) met with such straight-forward and inspiring instruction. But David Corbett is that writer, and The Art of Character is that book."
   —Robert Mailer Anderson, author "Boonville"

"David Corbett is a guy who knows his business. Reading this book, I learned things I didn't know and was reminded of ones I did. I recommend The Art of Character to every writer, at any level."

   —SJ Rozan, Award-Winning author of Ghost Hero

"This fine book is about as thorough an examination of character and what it means in all sorts of imaginative writing as you're likely to find anywhere. A terrific starting place for those who wish to sharpen or enhance their skill at making sharp, believable, meaningful characters, it also has practical uses that go far beyond the ordinary creative writing text. This is an exploration of the phenomenon of character—in as wide a variety of fiction and drama as there is. It will help any writer create and sustain human beings who make you forget you're reading, who are alive, who are worthy of our attention and sympathy."
   —Robert Bausch, Prize-Winning Author of Out of Season

"Character is the beating heart of fiction and with The Art of Character novelist David Corbett has written a clear, in-depth, and highly entertaining exploration of how to create remarkable characters. This an essential guide to students of the writer's craft at all levels."

   —Mark Haskell Smith, Author of Baked

"Writers—pay attention! The Art of Character is a tremendously useful and important book. David Corbett delivers in-depth analysis and practical wisdom on every page."
   —Sam Barry, Author of Write That Book Already! The Tough Love You Need to Get Published Now

"Both inspiring and practical, The Art of Character belongs on every writer's shelf. David Corbett brilliantly illustrates those elusive tools writers need to breathe life into their characters with greater confidence and deeper insight."

   —Cara Black, best-selling author of Murder in the Lanterne Rouge



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