THE MYTHIC GUIDE TO CHARACTERS
Dr. Antonio del Drago
Published March 1, 2013
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.
Until being approached by Dr. Antonio del Drago to write a review, I was unaware of the Mythic Scribes community. I now believe that Dr. Drago included “Mythic” in his title to connect with this community, but unfortunately for me it led to some confusion when I began reading the book. The title led me to believe the author's approach to character building would be based on myths, which, to me, meant ancient Greek and Roman stories. Instead, Dr. Drago used contemporary novels, including the Harry Potter series, The Godfather and Jurassic Park, to explain his process. Not that I didn't find that very helpful once I got with the program.
Technically, the book (I read the Kindle version on my laptop) was well laid out and well edited, although I did notice a couple of small errors. The overall tone was academic (not necessarily a bad thing) and a tad cold and clinical (more like a psychiatric evaluation than meeting a new friend in a coffee shop) but still fairly straight forward to read and follow.
Dr. Drago himself admits the approach can appear complex at first sight, and I agree with him. As a writer, I'm more organic in my character development (for good or ill) and I've never been the type to fill out those incredibly complex character sheets, with spaces for astrological signs and how many times a day he or she goes to the bathroom. However, I did find value in a deeper understanding of human personalities in Dr. Drago's explanations of enneagrams, Bartle types and archetypes. As well, the book includes a reasonably succinct worksheet which leads you through Dr. Drago's method, should you wish to follow it step-by-step, which I can see as being very helpful.
Dr. Drago even goes into the physical aspects of character building. He points out that many writers begin with hair and eye colouring when describing characters, when really these are two of the least important characteristics. After all, those attributes will not affect how a character reacts to the plot in your book. However, gender, age and fitness level (as only a few examples) will actually affect how that character influences your story. I thought this was a brilliant point.
I was also struck by his explanation of how people (or in the case of fiction, characters) don't always do what's best for themselves. As well, he points out that, while two characters may have similar personality traits on the inside, they will not necessarily manifest them in the same way on the outside. That is why his way of building characters can work – just because you've written about two Achievers, for example, it doesn't mean they will both react to certain plot points in the same way.
All in all, THE MYTHIC GUIDE TO CHARACTERS provided thought-provoking concepts that can be used to write stronger, more well-rounded characters.