Fiction Folk

Characters: Make them live and breathe.

Long after the twists and turns of your story has been forgotten, wonderful characters will live on in the reader’s imagination, drawing them back to your writing for more. Even the purely plot-driven story can benefit from vivid characters. Learn how to build characters, layer by layer, until they walk, talk and move about your story like real people, then explore the techniques that make them truly memorable, so that your characters draw your reader deep into your story world and makes your reader care what happens to them.

Course Outline

Character 101

  • Major characters
  • Minor characters
  • Spear carriers
  • Walk-ons and cameos

Character 201 -- A Cast of Thousands

  • Heroes & Heroines
  • Villains
  • Anti-heroes
  • Ensemble casts
  • Round and flat characters
  • Stereotypes vs. character types

Character 301 -- Warning! Character under construction.

  • Motive!
  • Main trait
  • Background details
  • Character profiles
  • Stereotypes ... and when to use them.


  • Getting ideas for characters
  • "Collecting" characters
  • Ideas from setting & situation
  • Characters from plot

Advanced techniques -- making your character live

  • Individualising your character
  • Habits, mannerisms
  • The five senses
  • Walk & gesture
  • Appearance
  • Facial dynamics
  • Dialogue
  • Tone of voice
  • Choice of words
  • Tempo
  • Figures of speech
  • Internalisation
  • Cause and effect considerations

Master techniques -- making your character unforgettable

  • Raising the emotional stakes
  • First impressions
  • Love or hate? How-to.
  • Mythical vs. realistic characters
  • Contrasts

Market demands

  • The type of story
  • POV
  • Degree of development
  • Limits and prohibitions
  • Reader expectations
  • Market expectations
  • The suspension of disbelief factor
  • Romantic vs. Realistic
  • Current social trends 

Contact Susan Lieberman, Writing Works Manager, at Grant MacEwan Community College for enrolment information.

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