My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Mythic Guide to Characters seeks to help writers improve the depth of their characters by showing that characters have more than one layer. Antonio Del Drago describes those layers as the character within, the character in his or her world, and the character in the story. Del Drago also discusses physical characteristics and character patterns.
Because of the title and the author’s involvement with the fantasy community, I was concerned about its applicability to other genres. That concern was unwarranted because Del Drago does an excellent job of applying these principles to all genres. Covering such attributes as the unconscious mind and how each character handles problems, issues, and concerns, “The Mythic Guide to Characters” provides a comprehensive overview of what makes readers care about characters.
The worksheet at the end of the book makes it easy for writers to regard this book as a tool to be used many times, not just read once and forgotten. Another strength of “The Mythic Guide to Characters” is Del Drago’s multi-layered process, which means that writers need not use every tool all at once. This “peeling the onion” approach allows writers to analyze characters in steps, starting at a superficial level and exploring in greater depth as needed. Overall, this is a cleanly written book on writing that will help many writers add complexity and interest to their characters. If there is a weakness in this guide, it’s the very complexity of the mind and how people behave. Del Drago is hoping that writers will want to take the time to learn more about the minds and behaviors of their characters. For those primarily concerned with plot, this process will feel tedious and complex. However, writers concerned about creating strong characters will see “The Mythic Guide to Characters” as a valuable addition to their library.