13 Authors in Search of their Characters: ‘Making Characters’ day at Winchester Discovery Centre


Thank you very much to the 13 enthusiastic, hard-working, and lively writers who voluntarily spent 6 hours trapped in a room with me last Saturday – learning as much as I could cram in about characters for fiction. This was my second fiction workshop at Winchester DC (after my Flash Fiction workshop in December), and it was again really good to see lots of new faces, alongside my highly-valued ‘regulars’. I seem to be tapping into different circles of writers with these fiction workshops, and it’s nice to meet you! I hope it keeps happening.

It was a very busy day: characters being the foundation of fiction, it was a huge topic. We started by looking at ways to create characters – or find them, having them come to us seemingly ready-made, which is a magical thing when it happens. I took everyone through a few ways to do this, from using real people, to starting with something intangible like a smell, and finally allowing characters to emerge spontaneously just through the act of writing. Then we worked on ways to deepen and develop a character: not just the good old Character Checklist, valuable as that is, but also more intuitive methods which can replicate the surprises and contradictions of real people.  Characterisation came next: how to show characters to the reader. Not just at what characters do and look like, but also focusing especially on the subtle aspects that fiction can convey so well – voice, what characters notice and think about, and the exact language and process of thoughts. Finally I did some work on character and plotting: not as much as I’d like to (I’ll need another day for that – watch this space!), but focusing on ways to mesh character and plot, so they connect in satisfying ways. We had a wide range of experience in the room, from absolute beginner to three or four novels written; but everyone said they got a lot from it.

And I’m pleased to say that the Discovery Centre has asked me to keep the series of workshops going by running three half-day classes for NaNoWriMo.

  1. 27th October: ‘Preparing for NaNoWriMo’
  2. 17th November: ‘Getting through the Marathon …With Style!:
  3. 8th December: ‘After NaNoWriMo:  What Next?’

All sessions run from 10 till 1 and cost £15 (concessions are available). Booking will be through the Discovery Centre soon – if you’d like me to let you know when tickets are available, please email me and I’ll do so. Hope to see you there.

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