Thursday, June 13, 2013

Review of The Mythic Guide to Characters by Antonio Del Drago

Today I'm reviewing The Mythic Guide to Characters by Antonio Del Drago of For
your information, here's the book description from

As a professor, writer, and philosopher, Dr. Antonio del Drago has immersed himself in the literary and mythological traditions of the world. 

Applying this knowledge to the writing of characters, he has developed a systematic, layered approach to character development that is based on psychology and archetypes.

In this guide, you will discover:

  • The secret to writing multidimensional characters
  • How to develop your character's unconscious motivations
  • Four ways in which characters interact with their worlds
  • Five formative relationships that shape your character
  • Nine mythic character archetypes and how to use them
  • The difference between proactive and reactive protagonists
  • Ways to define a character through dialogue and physicality
The guide also includes a detailed worksheet that walks you through the stages of character development.

This is more than a book on how to write characters. This guide offers a practical, step-by-step approach to character creation that is sure to take your writing to the next level.

Now for the review:

Overall, I give this book 3.5 stars.

I was a little on the fence with this book when I received it. It's got some good writing advice in it, but I'm a little wary of a "how-to" writing book by an author who, as far as I can tell, has never published anything outside this book (though he does have a PhD and runs his own writing forum). That alone would prevent me from picking The Mythic Guide to Characters off the shelf at the book store, but since I got a free copy, I decided to give it a go.

The book reads like a popular essay, which is different form many of the writing books I've read. Drago is really good at giving examples (drawn from well-known books and movies) of varying character and relationship types. I especially liked the connection between how a person plays a video game and how a character interacts with his world.

The book dives into the ideas of "enneagrams," archetypes, and soul triptychs, which made for an interesting and enlightening read.

I didn't entirely agree with the section on physical characteristics--I think there was a lot of general assumption being thrown around, and the advice flip-flopped a little. Drago also addresses the use of "real-life" dialogue (writing as people actually speak) in a way that almost went overboard for me. Sort of like he was venting a pet peeve. (I will note that I've never seen broken, "natural" dialogue in any amateur [or professional] writing. Bad dialogue, yes, but not in the way this book describes.)

With all that said, if you're a beginning writer (especially in the fantasy or science-fiction genre) and can get
this book at a good price, go for it. It has some insightful, psychological insights on character, as well as some handy worksheets in the back. And if you do read it, let me know what you think!


  1. Thanks for the review. From the blurb it sounds really good. But I'm not so sure after your review. Thanks for letting us know what you thought of it.

  2. I appreciate your review of this novel. I can understand your apprehension regarding the book if there's nothing else out by this author. Rather interesting, actually.

  3. I've read the Guide to Characters and it's a pretty good book overall. It'd be a better read for those early in their writing career as opposed to later their career.

  4. Sounds interesting! But you're right, it is strange that someone who is not a novelist would write a book on the subject.

  5. I was a little disappointed. Based purely on the title, I thought it might delve into the different types of mythic beasts/characters that occur through human history - I'd love a book that was a sort of encyclopedia of things like unicorns and dragons and tree nymphs.
    Although this book does sound like it kind of neat, just not as cool as what I was hoping it was from the title.

  6. Thanks for the review. I may try checking it out of the library and giving it a go.


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