Thursday, July 27, 2006

What Would Your Character Do?

Just a caveat up front: I skimmed the second half of this book.

You may think that would disqualify me from writing a review, but I would submit that the fact that I skimmed is indicative of the book's problem. This month's book is What Would Your Character Do? by Dr. Eric Maisel and Ann Maisel.

The premise for the book appeared solid. Dr. Maisel, a psychologist, had written thrity personality quizzes that you can drop your story's characters into. How would he/she react if placed in this or that situation. On the surface, it seemed like a really good idea. Even if your character isn't going on a road trip (Quiz #15), you can see different facets of his/her personality that will help your writing.

At least, that's what I thought would happen. Not exactly the case.

First of all, the way that Dr. Maisel worded the questions and the scenarios he chose aren't quite as helpful as I thought they'd be. It might help shed some light on your character in a very general way, but it seems more like these quizzes would help you write very specific stories about very specific characters. For example, Quiz #6, "Stranger in Town", deals with how your character would react if he/she was stranded in a strange town and the townsfolk were acting hostile or suspicious. That'd be a great story, but really, how is that supposed to help me write a sci-fi story?

The second major problem (and the reason why I skimmed the end of the book) is the fact that for each answer, Dr. Maisel tries to layer on extra psycho-analysis, most of which I thought was either arbitrary or shallow.

This book might be helpful to a writer so long as you ignore Dr. Maisel's additional comments. It could also be useful to brainstorm story ideas. But I'm not sure it's worth the money I plunked down for it.

1 comment:

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