Skip to main content

Elements of Fiction Writing: Characters & Viewpoint

Create vivid and memorable characters for your fiction with this classic resource.
  • Author:
  • Publish date:


Elements of Fiction Writing: Characters & Viewpoint
by Orson Scott Card
Writer's Digest Books, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-59963-212-4
$14.99, paperback, 240 pages

Image placeholder title

Read an Excerpt
Award-winning author Oson Scott Card discusses the relationship between stereotypes and fictional characters. This excerpt from Elements of Writing Fiction: Characters & Viewpoint shows you how to avoid common pitfalls and how to use stereotypes to your advantage as a writer

About the Book

This book is a set of tools: literary crowbars, chisels, mallets, pliers, and tongs. Use them to pry, chip, yank, and sift good characters out of the place where they live in your imagination.

Award-winning author Orson Scott Card explains in depth the techniques of inventing, developing, and presenting characters, plus handling viewpoint in novels and short stories. With specific examples, he spells out your narrative options—the choices you’ll make in creating fictional people so “real” that readers will feel they know them like members of their own families.

You’ll learn how to:

• Draw characters from a variety of sources
• Make characters show who they are by the things they do and say, and by their individual “style”
• Develop characters readers will love—or love to hate
• Distinguish among major characters, minor characters, and walk-ons, and develop each appropriately
• Choose the most effective viewpoint to reveal the characters and move the storytelling
• Decide how deeply you should explore your characters’ thoughts, emotions, and attitudes

About the Author

Orson Scott Card is an award-winning science fiction novelist whose credits include the Hugo Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. His novels include Ender’s Game, Shadow of Hegemon, and Speaker for the Dead, among others. 

Writer’s Digest Official Book Club Selection: Portrait of a Thief

Writer’s Digest Official Book Club Selection: Portrait of a Thief

The editors of Writer’s Digest are proud to bring you the first book club pick, Portrait of a Thief, to read along with us.

6 Ways To Fight Your Inner Critics

6 Ways To Fight Your Inner Critics

For many writers, self-critique gets in the way of making much progress. Here, author Julia Crouch shares 6 ways to fight your inner critics.

Writing Allegory: A Convenient Place to Hide

Writing Allegory: A Convenient Place to Hide

Where realistic fiction felt both too restrictive and too revealing for author Susan Speranza’s transition from poetry to fiction, she turned to allegory. Here, she shares examples of famous allegories throughout history and how allegorical writing helped shape her novel, Ice Out.

Instagram: An Underutilized Tool for the Freelance Writer

Instagram: An Underutilized Tool for the Freelance Writer

In this post, author C. Hope Clark shares tips on how freelance writers can use Instagram as a tool to find more freelance writing connections, assignments, and overall success.

Jane Porter: On the Joy of Writing Mature Characters

Jane Porter: On the Joy of Writing Mature Characters

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jane Porter discusses celebrating the nature of getting older in her new romance novel, Flirting With Fifty.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 610

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a "different way of seeing the world" poem.

How To Research Topics Like a Journalist

How To Research Topics Like a Journalist

From in-person interviews to scouring the web for credible sources, journalist Alison Hill shares tips on how to research topics like a journalist.

Can I Have Your Attention?

Can I Have Your Attention?

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, an announcement is about to change the course of history.

Glenn Boozan: On the Funny Side of Parenting

Glenn Boozan: On the Funny Side of Parenting

Emmy nominated comedy writer Glenn Boozan discusses how a funny piece of perspective turned into her new humor book, There Are Moms Way Worse Than You.