As a relatively new stay-at-home mom, there’s nothing I love more than having a few hours to myself, perusing Amazon for a great book, selecting “Buy now with 1 click”, and settling in with a cup of coffee.  However, there’s nothing I hate more than falling victim to a well-written synopsis only to start reading a novel with flat, two-dimensional characters that ruin what would have likely been a good story. Sadly, this happens to even the most seasoned authors, especially those who are feeling the pressure from multiple deadlines. It’s why sequels are often not as good as the original. However, if you’re looking for a quick read to transform your ho-hum characters, look no further than Rachel Ballon’s Breathing Life into your Characters.

A professional psychotherapist, as well as an author, Ballon breaks down psychological profiles for both protagonists and antagonists, provides writing exercises, using her unique “Method Writing” system to help authors tap into the characters’ emotions, and teaches authors how to enhance archetypal characters into three-dimensional characters audiences can identify with. If you’re like me and you love a good villain, Ballon’s section on creating convincing bad guys by “tapping into your shadow” will also be especially helpful.

Basically, creating well-rounded characters–heroes, villains, and everything in between–can be directly linked to a sympathetic backstory that will make readers care. However, creating such complex characters will require the creation of a full psychological profile before getting into the thick of your plot. Ballon’s book is my “go-to” manual any time I am stuck or having trouble getting a character just right.  I highly recommend this book to all authors, but especially those who may be writing outside of their comfort zones.