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review 2014-06-02 04:13
Review: Getting into Character by Brandilyn Collins
Getting into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors - Brandilyn Collins

Quick review for a quick read. Oh, this was a good one. Very well organized and appropriate link to how writers can employ actor's techniques in helping them craft their fiction. I was fascinated by the premise of this book, so I took no hesitation in picking it up. The book revolves around describing seven techniques that actors use to convey their performances of character, and Brandilyn Collins expands on these techniques to show how writers can make their characters (and stories) more effective by using a step by step process for each consideration.

The seven "secrets" this book expounds upon are:

1. Personalizing
2. Action Objectives (Four Ds - Desire, Distancing, Denial, Devastation)
3. Subtexting
4. Coloring Passions
5. Inner Rhythm
6. Restraint and Control
7. Emotion Memory

Much of this text was a refresher to me for techniques that I employ, because I always say that the best stories can provide you a vivid sense of showing the dynamic of a story playing out in you mind. Personalizing had to do with shaping the character and individual aspects that make them stand out. Action Objectives had to do with the character's desired goal through the narrative, and breaks it down into Desire, Distancing (how far the character has to reach or what barricades block them from reaching the desire), Denial (character questioning abililty to reach goal, and Devastation (optional, but ultimately the character not being able to get what he/she wants).

Subtexting covers everything that a character isn't explicitly saying, but is implied or beneath the scene in dialogue among other measures within a scene. Coloring Passions is self-expansive, as it deals with conveying the dimensional passions of a character. Inner Rhythm means showing the progression of a character's emotions and roots. Restraint and Control shows appropriating techniques that match the intention of a scene (action scenes requiring shorter sentences, etc.) Last, Emotion Memory relies on how events can shape the emotional landscape of a character, and how an writer can use their own emotional memories to shape their characters.

It's definitely a book I would recommend picking up for any writer that wants to deepen the portrayal and experiences presented with the characters in their stories.

Overall score: 4/5 stars.

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text 2014-05-31 00:19
Ugh, Uni Library, you are not helping me with my book queue
Bullies, Bastards And Bitches: How To Write The Bad Guys Of Fiction - Jessica Page Morrell
Getting into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors - Brandilyn Collins
Deepening Fiction: A Practical Guide for Intermediate and Advanced Writers - Sarah Stone,Ron Nyren
On Writing Horror: A Handbook by the Horror Writer's of America - Mort Castle
The Joy of Writing Sex: A Guide for Fiction Writers - Elizabeth Benedict

Just checked the above books out of the library today, between running a lot of errands this evening for personal and family matters.  I'm not so tired so as not to do some reading, but this is not helping my TBR, which is piling up.


I'm probably going to be cleaning my place/doing spring cleaning between reading some books though.  Hopefully I can start clearing a backlog of reviews tonight.

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review 2013-10-27 12:07
Gone to Ground: A Novel - Brandilyn Collins

A fantastic small town murder mystery full of twists and turns that kept me guessing right until the end. i love small town murder mysteries and this book did everything right. I found it browsing through Netgalley and my request to view was approved almost immediately, (though it took me a while to get round to reading it) when I did, I read it fairly quickly. Fast moving plot, great characters and a fascinating depiction of a small town dealing with a killer in their mists and the people who were the suspects.

The story is told from three different points of view from three townswomen who each think someone they know is responsible, and how they deal with the knowledge that that person might be a killer. They collect their own evidence and as things progress, eventually they are brought together. I loved the three view points from very different women, I enjoyed seeing how each of them coped and how they bonded together throughout the investigation. 

Also, smart characters too, who didn't do things recklessly and stupidly. Who thought things through and involved the police when necessary. The plot twisted and turned and just when you think the three women have figured it all out the plot twists again. I didn't see the end result coming the way it did.

A fantastic read and I would definitely be interested in reading other books by this author. So thank you Netgalley for the approval to view the title.

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review 2013-03-30 00:00
Gone to Ground: A Novel - Brandilyn Collins Originally posted on my blog Chasing Empty Pavements

This was exactly the type of book I needed to get back in the swing of things...even if it was a little rocky to start with. Murder. Mystery. The South. Do I need to say much more? I was SUPER excited to start this one since the last murder mystery novel I'd read was Gone Girl and that sort of broke my heart a little. I was being vengeful by boycotting murder mysteries for a while. Anyways, this one restored my faith.

What I loved about this novel was how true to the south it felt. Through the descriptions, dialogue and writing, I truly felt like I was in Amaryllis, Mississippi drinking sweet tea with Cherrie Mae, Tully and Deena. At first, I wasn't sure I'd enjoy this novel because it started off a little confusing. It's told in alternating POV's from Cherrie Mae, Tully and Deena--3 women in Amaryllis. After the sixth murder in their little town, all three women believe they know who the killer is. This is what makes the novel confusing at first--but ultimately, it's what makes this novel so interesting. You see the town and it's people through 3 different lenses and you wonder about all 3 men the women suspect is the killer. It really keeps you turning the page which is the most important thing in a novel like this. I loved the way their lives and the mystery intersected and even though I guessed who the killer was (I was right!), it wasn't until almost the end which is acceptable to me. Really, this was just a good, enjoyable read for me. I liked Collins voice and writing style throughout the novel and she's an author I'd like to read more from.

A couple of things irritated me about this novel as much as I liked it. Firstly, in Cherrie Mae's POV... she uses dialect that makes it apparent that Cherrie is an African-American woman. Like instead of the word "door" she uses "doh." But at the same time...it wasn't like her entire dialect was like this...just bits and pieces and it just rubbed me the wrong way. It was like, contradictory of the character and I wished she would have either used it consistently throughout or not at all. I think there were other ways to convey what she wanted without making Cherrie Mae sound like the stereotypical black southerner you see in movies/books. The other major thing that irritated me was when the identity of the killer was involved... it was like so anti-climatic. Even though it was *supposed* to feel like a big deal...I was like...hmm. okay. moving on. Just didn't hit the right climatic spots to shine. And the reasons for killing the woman were just plain stupid. Like...it's really hard for me to believe someone would kill for the reasons explained in the novel.


Overall, I had a good time reading this novel and I would recommend it for a quick, enjoyable read. If you're a hardcore murder mystery fan, this one might be a little too light for you.

**I received this book free from the publisher through www.netgalley.com. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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review 2013-03-22 00:00
Eyes of Elisha
Eyes of Elisha - Brandilyn Collins I had such a blast with this book. It catches you right in the prologue and doesn't let go of you until the very end!Our main character is Chelsea Adams. For the past year she has the gift of receiving visions, sent to her by God. Her husband and her are looking at hiring a man named Gavil to hire as the VP of her husbands business. While at the dinner meeting that she meets him she gets one of her visions. It is the worst one she has ever had and is of a young woman being murdered. When she is free of the vision, she is staring a Gavil who has a guilty expression somehow, and KNOWS it is him.Her husband doesn't believe her and nor do the police. That is, until she finds the body! The next problem is proving who the killer is. After all, visions are not proof in a court of law.As the police hone in on Gavil, making his life difficult, he hones in on Chelsea. And now we have a game of cat and mouse...This book has several questioning the faith, or lack there-of. God's will vs human will, is there a God, why is God doing this? and more are asked by various characters. So yes, for those of you who have a hard time with religious books, this is a strong Christian fiction novel.Branilyn Collins did a great job with character portrayal. I especially liked Officer Reiger. He is a stead-fast Christian walking a tough line of faith in trusting Chelsea, and finding evidence and remaining professional on the job.This story takes us through the investigation, betrayals, the court room and beyond. While the story may seem cut and dry and you think you know how it is going to end, don't bet on it too soon. After all, there is often more than what meets the eye!My only drawback to this book is that I want to know what is going to happen with certain characters and the author left that hanging. I hope some of those characters will make an appearance in the second book so I can get more answers.
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