To understand people, to write about them, and to read about them is endlessly engaging. When we unravel their psychological puzzles, we ultimately shed light on our own lives. ~Edelstein
Want this tool? Buy it here: Writer’s Guide to Character Traits
If you struggle with devising multi-faceted and realistic characters, I strongly recommend you check out Writer’s Guide to Character Traits.
Full disclosure! I am an Amazon affiliate– but I only decided to share this particular link after thoroughly trying out the book. I encourage you to give it a whirl 100% because of how much I love, love, love her work! It is my constant companion when I am creating characters.
About the author
Linda N. Edelstein, Ph.D., graduate of Northwestern University’s counseling psychology program, has a private practice in Chicago, IL. She aspired to provide an accessible psychological reference to help writers without psychology backgrounds to explore our characters’ psyche and underlying motivations.
About the book
With over 400 lists and charts describing individual personality types, impacts of ordinary and extraordinary events, and psychological disorders along, Character Traits is truly a gold mine of information.
The book is easy to use, with a “Big Index” in addition to an intuitive flow to the format. It’s packed full of useful information, but is completely approachable and usable as a quick reference!
What you’ll find inside
Edelstein provides 19 pages of traits such as hyper, abusive or boastful wherein she identifies where the reader / writer might find personality types, disorders, or situations that tend to be associated with those indexed traits.
She also includes footnotes and a lengthy bibliography, allowing for deeper research, should the writer be so inclined, thus allowing for a deeper, more coherent character identity.
Finally, throughout the text, she includes sidebars titled “Facts and Figures,” “New Information,” and “Warm-ups, which offer additional opportunities and information in the form of statistics, additional details, and writing prompts, respectively.
My final thoughts
When I first encountered Writer’s Guide to Character Traits, I found myself wishing I had come across it years ago. Not only is it a fascinating read and easy to use (an update evident in the second edition as a result of criticism of her first version), it has already improved my characterization skills.
One concern I shared with her critics include the potential for stereotyping with a text such as this, though she is careful to explain that these are traits that simply tend to manifest based off of X disorder or B personality type, and that the writer should pick and choose from these tendencies so as to create a more realistic, well-rounded character as opposed to a stereotypical one.
Ultimately, I give a BIG seal of approval on this text. This might be the most powerful writer’s guide for characterization that I have come across.