Please join us in extending a warm congratulations to David Corbett, WU contributor and author extraordinaire, on the November 19th release of his latest nonfiction title The Compass of Character.
David Corbett is the award-winning author of the writing guides The Art of Character (“A writer’s bible” – Elizabeth Brundage) and The Compass of Character, coming in November 2019. He has published six novels, including The Long-Lost Love Letters of Doc Holliday, nominated for the Lefty Award for Best Historical Mystery, and scheduled for re-release in Spring 2020 by Suspense Press. His short fiction has been selected twice for Best American Mystery Stories, and his non-fiction has appeared in the New York Times, Narrative, Bright Ideas, and Writer’s Digest, where he is a contributing editor. He has taught at the UCLA Writer’s Program, Litreactor, and at writing conferences across North America and Mexico, and is a monthly contributor to Writer Unboxed, an award-winning blog dedicated to the craft and business of fiction. www.davidcorbett.com
“David Corbett is the grandmaster of character development. He adroitly reconciles the complex interplay of forces in every character’s life so that writers can create true depth on the page. His exercises make that complexity manageable, and the examples he provides are remarkably incisive.” —Donald Maass, author of The Emotional Craft of Fiction
“With a deft hand, David takes us past writing clichés, charting a new course forward into developing resonant characters in film and print today. His insights have the potential to revolutionize the way writers understand the characters they develop.” —Steven James, bestselling author of Story Trumps Structure
Corbett told us, “The reason these two quotes mean so much to me is that I respect both these authors immensely, and both have taught me a lot.”
David, thank you for taking the time to join us today to answer a few questions about your new book and what it can do for writers and their characters!
Q1: Can you give us an introduction to The Compass of Character, and how it’s unique in the market?
The original impetus for this approach arose from my reading of Robert Olen Butler’s From Where You Dream, in which he discusses the concept of Yearning. It seemed to me that this was one of those “simple things” my math professors told me deserved deep thought, so I began thinking of each character’s life as defined by a deep-seated need to live up to what she considered her dream of life: the kind of person she wanted to be, the way of life she hoped to live. That naturally gave rise to the question: Why does that dream remain unfulfilled? That led me to an understanding that each individual confronts two equally powerful—and equally justifiable—forces in life: the pursuit of the promise of life versus protection from the pain of life. The book is an elaboration upon the methodology that arises from that insight.
Q2: Why this book now? How have industry changes affected the way you approach teaching the craft of writing?