The key to creating interesting characters.

Last year I grew as a writer. All thanks to Martyn Bedford. This special, kind and giving English gentleman walked me through some marvelous moments in character building and on creating interesting characters. Martyn Bedford was our main teacher at the Art of Writing last June. His teaching techniques were sublime. Not only do we LOVE Martyn’s books, we also love that he is a Creative Writing teacher who actually writes. So much easier to trust a teacher who does what they teach.

Here are some of Martyn’s valuable words of wisdom on creating interesting characters.

For me, character is the key to any piece of fiction. It is more important than plot, because if we aren’t interested in the character(s) we won’t be interested in what they do or in what happens to them.

Drama is human, not inanimate.

So give them desires, fears, attitudes, emotions. Ask yourself: What motivates my protagonist? Who is she/he? What does she/he want and why?

Become an actor playing the part of that character. In each scene, get inside their head, or put yourself in their position, and let that inform how they speak, think, behave, feel. Take us inside your character’s thoughts, let us see through her/his eyes.

Wherever possible, instead of telling the reader about your character, show her/his inaction and dialogue. Let us see for ourselves what she/he is like.

Be sure to make your hero or heroine central to the plot – the story’s driving force, its beating heart. And take care that she/he is active rather than passive. In other words, don’t make the main character little more than a window on the story or a piece of driftwood floating on the tide of other character’s actions.

Martyn Bedford:

This year Jane Corry will be our Art of Writing teacher, in Florence, from June 3-8.

This is Jane’s second time with the Art of Writing because we adore how she teaches us to infuse suspense into all our projects. Let’s face it, nowadays if you don’t hook your reader quickly, your readers won’t want to turn the page. No matter what you are writing, a family history, historical fiction, a romantic comedy or your own memoir, engaging your readers immediately is more essential than ever.

More on Martyn’s character building tips next week. And all the very best to you from a freezing Florence. It snowed in the mountains around Florence yesterday. Very conducive to writing.

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