Publish date:

The Writer's Guide to Character Traits

A classic reference for creating realistic and distinct characters


Buy book | Amazon  | BN.com

The Writer's Guide to Character Traits

by Linda Edelstein Ph.D.
Writer's Digest Books, 2006
ISBN 978-1-58297-390-6
$16.99 paperback, 352 pages

Image placeholder title

About the Book
From Sex to Schizophrenia find out everything you need to develop your characters! What makes a person commit a white-collar crime? Who is a likely candidate to join a cult? Why do children have imaginary friends? How does birth order affect whether or not a person gets married? When does mind over matter become a crippling problem?

The Writer’s Guide to Character Traits, 2nd edition answers all of these questions and many others. With more than 400 easy-to-reference lists of traits blended from a variety of behaviors and influences, you’ll have the knowledge you need to create distinctive characters whose personalities correspond to their thoughts and actions—no matter how normal or psychotic they might be. In this updated and expanded edition, you’ll also find:

  • Comprehensive instruction on how to best use this book
  • New statistical information to help you create true-to-life characters
  • Corresponding exercises that show you how to put the material to work in your stories
  • A quick-reference index to make cross-referencing a snap
  • Exercises and idea sparkers that will help you get your thoughts out of your head and onto the page

Plus, you’ll learn about common—and not so common—psychological, physical, and relationship disorders; delve into the minds of criminals; find out what it takes to be a professional athlete, scientist, and truck driver; discover what life is like for a gang member, suicidal teen, and alcoholic; and more.

In The Writer’s Guide to Character Traits, 2nd edition, noted psychologist and author Dr. Linda Edelstein takes you beyond generic personality types and into the depths of the human psyche where you’re sure to find the resources you need to make your characters stand out from the crowd.

How I Broke Into the Traditional Publishing World as an Indie Author

How I Broke Into the Traditional Publishing World as an Indie Author

Learn the process indie author Amanda Aksel went through in getting her novel Delia Suits Up traditionally published, including questions she asked herself and weighing one strategy against the other.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: 6 New WDU Courses, An Upcoming Webinar, a Competition Deadline, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce 6 new WDU Courses, an upcoming webinar, a competition deadline, and more!

Working With a Nonfiction Book Publisher Throughout the Process

Working With a Nonfiction Book Publisher Throughout the Process

A publisher accepting your manuscript is just the beginning, not the end. Author Rick Lauber discusses how to work with a nonfiction book publisher from query letter to release date and beyond.

From Script

Writing Empowered Superheroes in CWs Supergirl and Understanding Animation From the Trenches (From Script)

In this week’s round-up brought to us by Script Magazine, story editor Katiedid “Did” Langrock speaks with Reckless Creatives podcast. Plus, one-on-one interview with CWs Supergirl actress turned scribe Azie Tesfai about her groundbreaking episode and more!

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: The Characterless Character

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: The Characterless Character

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so this series helps identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is writing a characterless character.

When Is My Novel Ready to Read: 7 Self-Editing Processes for Writers

When Is My Novel Ready to Read: 7 Self-Editing Processes for Writers

Fiction editor and author Kris Spisak ties together her seven processes for self-editing novels, including editorial road-mapping, character differentiation analysis, reverse editing, and more.

Poetic Forms

Englyn Unold Crwca: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the englyn unold crwca, a Welsh quatrain form.

5 Things for Writers to Keep in Mind When Writing About Spies

5 Things for Writers to Keep in Mind When Writing About Spies

A spy thriller requires more than a compelling story and clever plot twists—the characters need to feel real. Author Stephanie Marie Thornton offers 5 tips for constructing believable spy characters.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Unexpected Team Up

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Unexpected Team Up

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, it's time for a little unexpected team work.