"She always seemed interested in what we wrote and her comments were always kind, yet informative. ...our instructor was wonderful!"
- Melissa G.
in Biography, Memoir & Fiction
Facilitator: Sarah Zale
writers, we want our characters to emerge three-dimensional from the page. We
want them to live with our readers as they read and to deliciously haunt long
after the final page is turned. One way to work on developing authentic
characters is to begin with the most three-dimensional character we know: our
self. Starting with the genre of memoir, then proceeding to biography and
fiction, you will work on using words to bring flesh and bone to your
One: Giving Birth to a Character
will begin the process of what a writer must do to create a character the reader
truly cares about. Exercises in observation, role-play, and imagination will
start here and continue throughout all four weeks.
Two: Becoming The Main Character in Memoir
where we take a look at our Self, the character we know best. Memoir is often
the first genre choice of new writers because they figure that right from the
get-go they’re ahead: Character development? Check. Cross that off the list.
We’ll take a closer look.
Three: Developing The Main
Character in Biography
do we go about writing about someone we know really well? Or how do we go about
learning enough about a person to write their “true” story?
Four: Creating Character in Fiction
the easiest way to just make a character up from scratch? Why do so many writers
fail to create believable characters?
the end of the course, each student will have the questions and some of the
answers and many tools to continue learning about character, as writers do, through
their own practice of writing.
About the facilitator: Sarah Zale has a Masters in English Literature and a Masters in Rhetoric and the Teaching of Writing from the University of Colorado. She is a freelance writer who has published her poetry, essays, and short stories. Recently she completed a collection of biographies of women sailing the world.
Books recommended on this page are not required reading for participation in the course. Required materials, if any, are listed in the course syllabus.
Stereotypes exist for a reason; usually, because there's
an element of truth to them. With The Writer's Guide to Character Traits,
You won't just read this book--you'll use it. Creating
characters provides an endless source of inspiration in helping the writer
develop, motivate, and describe fictional people readers will love, hate,
or relate to.