I want you to know right away that I give these books all 5 star ratings. However, on my blog, I give a 100 point rating, and I will try to explain as best as why I give the score I do.
I need $125 by October 30th, 2017. Anything you can give will help.
I have never done 3 books at once for a review, so I am looking forward to this challenge. The three books I am reviewing today:
- Positive Traits Thesaurus
- Negative Traits Thesaurus
- Emotional Thesaurus
Positive Traits Thesaurus
Before we get into the meat of the book, we are greeted by a few articles dealing with the importance of creating realistic characters. It is important to do this as our readers need to relate to the characters, especially with so many stories published today.
We then get a discussion of terminology that Traits can be described as attributes (or Positive attributes) or flaws (or negative traits). Move past that, we have a discussion of morals, how our perceived right and wrong can shape our attributes.
We also discuss needs. I am a bit impressed here that our two authors discuss Hierarchy of Needs (or Need Hierarchy Theory). This is a very good system to use to understand how how far up the chain they are to being a complete person. Of all the examinations of personalities and traits, this is the first time I’ve seen anyone else (except me) use this model.
We have a brief discussion about different types of attributes, and how they develop for a character. It even talks about giving positive traits to villains, which is a key thing to do to make lasting characters.
Also a brief discussion about how to show attributes in a story, and lastly pitfalls in character creation.
Now this doesn’t hold your hand through all of it. It won’t teach you everything you must know, however, it will give you a good introduction to some of these complex issues. A seasoned writer will see it as review whereas a brand new writer will begin thinking about their story in ways they haven’t ever thought of.
What of the list of words? I love this section of the book. First it gives you a brief definition, and then identifies the type of attribute it is. It goes over how the attribute can develop and common behavior associated with it.
It also goes over thoughts and emotions, as well as positive and negative aspects. It shows some examples in literature and media and some conflicting emotions from supporting characters. Lastly, giving us some challenges the characters may face.
Negative Traits Thesaurus
One thing I like about this book in conjunction with the Positive traits is that each book has a different beginning section. I could understand if they wrote one section for both books, but they go into different discussions for Negative traits.
One of the things that this book points out, that it is chiefly important in character development that it’s not just about Positive Traits. Some beginning writers focus on positive traits and make their character’s really awesome then have difficulty understanding why people don’t like their characters. We are all flawed people, and want our characters to be equally flawed.
The book goes into how Negative Traits are essentially Flaws. It talks about how flaws develop and how characters try to hide their flaws. The great thing about flaws as detailed in this book is how it can generate friction between characters within a story. Also goes into giving your villains flaws (big discussion on this, it is a complicated issue).
It tells us how to show flaws within a story and difficulties on creating flaws for characters.
The list of words is the exact same format as Positive traits. The end of both books have extras. Negative Traits analyzes the Need Hierarchy Theory and associated lies. Highly interesting.
In this book, we go into Verbal and Non-Verbal emotions. Then discussing “showing, not telling”. This is a hard thing for all writers, as you will always hear people say, “Show, Don’t Tell” but there are times where telling is better than showing. Hard thing to learn.
The book talks about using cliché descriptions for emotions and intensity of emotion. Next goes into dialogue. Should the writer describe emotion with internal thought, dialogue with other characters, or in the narrative?
The list itself features a definition, physical signals of emotions, internal sensations, and mental responses. It also goes into what long-term effect can occur from this emotion and what can happen if a character tries to suppress them.
This book does something unique the other two don’t. It offers writing tips for each words about how to draw the reader in with their emotions and the character emotions.
What I don’t like
1) This is true for all the books. I don’t like that it is called a thesaurus. A Thesaurus, like a Dictionary, is a word book. Where a Dictionary is one that gives definitions, a Thesaurus gives synonyms and antonyms. In the Traits book, it does give similar attributes/flaw, but uses words not featured in the book and only 2 – 3 words. Also give conflicting attributes/flaws for other characters, but I wouldn’t say these are antonyms. It gives a small sample size of synonyms, but not antonyms.
Calling it a Thesaurus undervalues what it is. It is more of a reference book or a basic Encyclopedia. For it to be a thesaurus, it would need to feature more words associated with it. However, I am thankful it is not that.
2) In the Emotion Thesaurus, they listed other emotions that one could evolve to over the long term, with numbers beside them. At first, I thought this was a percentage of how likely they would develop an emotion. Makes sense. Until I figured out it was page numbers.
In all 3 books, there was no information of how the book is structured and more explanation of the categories. There is also inconsistency in all 3 books. Such as the Positive Traits having Challenging Scenarios for characters, but this is missing in Negative and Emotions. Or the Writer’s Tip in Emotions missing in the Traits book.
Looking at the good and the bad of the books, I still feel they are 5 star books.
Positive Traits: 96%
Negative Traits: 96%
I have a tough grading system, but I do try to be fair. All 3 of these books should be on your bookshelf. Don’t let the difference of ratings convince you that Emotion Thesaurus is less important than the Traits books.
If you were to pick one book of the three that I feel is the most important, I would tell you to get Negative Traits. They are the hardest to deal with and often get overlooked in character development.
Definitely check out the co-Authors site, Writers Helping Writers. They also have what looks like a new Thesaurus they are working on, for Traits and Skills. The cover many things such as Archery, Hotwiring a Car, and even Parkour.
You can find more information about each book below:
I need $125 by October 30th, 2017. Anything you can give will help.