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What Would Your Character Do:
Personality Quizzes for Analyzing Your Characters

by Eric Maisel, Ph. D. and Ann Maisel

Writer's Digest Books

2006, 276 Pages

Reviewed by Beth Morrow


Being an inquisitive sort (mom calls it ‘nosy’), I’ve always loved playing games like 20 Questions and Scruples to get insight on topics not often discussed in casual conversation with my friends.

One more than on occasion, I’ve thought about how fun it would be to play these games with characters from my works-in-progress. Problem is—I stink when it comes to asking the questions. I’m usually the lame friend in the group repeating an old question or asking something too simple because I just can’t come up with those good questions that will really get conversation (and thought) flowing.

Luckily for me, Eric Maisel, Ph.D and Ann Maisel have helped solve my dilemma—for fiction, anyway—with their What Would Your Character Do: Personality Quizzes for Analyzing Your Characters.

Now, I hear some of you regular readers saying, "But you reviewed a character building book last month…." Yes, that’s true. I really didn’t expect to review the same type of book in subsequent reviews, but from the moment I picked this gem up off the shelf I was hooked. I learned more about my heroine (and not just her hair color, eye color and favorite food) from one of the thirty exercises inside that I’d learned from all the character question lists I’ve accumulated over the years.

The Maisel’s book begins with a short introduction to the importance of knowing your characters from every angle. Thoughtfully concise and interesting, the authors approach the introduction by comparing the psychology of creating fictional characters to the reality of human psychology and do an outstanding job of reminding authors just how much fun the process of creating dynamic characters can be.

From there, we move on to the meat of the book: thirty real-life, character-driven scenarios to get you thinking of how your character would react in the given situation and what those glimpses can add to your story. Each scenario is followed by six questions with multiple-choice answers, an accompanying description of the psychology behind your character’s reaction and additional situations to consider your character in as it relates to the scenario. Additionally, each section includes further in-depth knowledge to add to your files on future character behaviors based on specific situations. For example, the "Elegant Party" scenario includes information on the stages of alcoholism, "Diagnosed With An Illness" offers common reactions to traumatic news and "Blowing the Whistle" delves into the need to conform to societal rules and expectations.

Even if you think you’re read every book on character you can stand to read, do yourself and your characters a favor and pick up What Would Your Character Do? Personality Quizzes for Analyzing Your Characters….because you can never know too much about your characters before they come to life.


About the author: Beth Morrow has more characters in her mind than she can ever write about and isn’t afraid to admit it. When she isn’t discovering why her heroine has such an aversion to her father, she can be found freelancing or teaching English as a Second Language to middle school students. Visit her on the web at: www.bethmorrow.com



         Last updated: June 26, 2007