Arts & Entertainment, Writing

Creating Memorable Characters - Part 1

Judy Blume

Lesson time 12:54 min

Compelling and layered characters drive stories forward and keep readers wanting to turn the page. But before that happens, writers need to get to know their characters as if they were real people.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Spend Time With Your Characters • Make Your Characters Real • Margaret Character Example • Convey Emotion by Showing, Not Telling • Work with Conflicting Emotions


There's nothing more important than character when you're writing. And know I think if you ask any writer, no matter what that person writes, it's going to be the same thing because any book is about the characters more than plot or anything else. It's the characters that make the story work. So I would, if I were you guys, really work at developing character. So, how do you do that? You have to get to know who your characters are, and I think there are different approaches. My approach is often is, always, I have to write it to find out who it is. When I start on day one, no matter how much I think I know because I've been keeping this notebook, and I have back story, and I have little details to come and use for security, I still, on day one, I don't know that character. I don't know how that character is going to surprise me. And that's how I get to know my characters. My characters will surprise me. This is good for me. This is very good. So I can sit at the dinner table that night and say to my family, you will never believe what Karen did today, and then they listen. They humor me as if I'm talking about real people, because to me they are real people, and they're becoming more real every day as I find out who they are. That's the thing. You have to know them, you have to get to know them, you have to believe in them as if they are real people, because to you they are. They may only exist in a book, but they are real. That's the only way I think to make your reader feel deeply connected to your characters, for your readers to say I felt that I was reading about myself, or I felt that I was reading about friends, I felt that I was reading about real people, that's because they are that way to you. So character is everything. Without character, there's nothing. So you know spend a lot of time with your characters and getting to know them. And the way that you get to know them can be different from the way I get to know them, but my way is they don't come alive until I write about them, until I put them down on paper. Well, how do you build characters? I mean, what is the character? A character is what you're thinking, the inner voice, what you're saying versus what you're thinking, and a series of details. And I don't mean little quirks that you should repeat throughout like, she licked her lips, and then 10 pages later, she licked her lips, and 10 pages after that, she licked her lips, but you want to find very real details. I once had a letter from a kid that said, you know what I love about your books? They brush their teeth, they go to the bathroom, they do things that regular people do. And I think she was talking about the scene in Margaret where early on they've just moved to the suburbs and grandma comes unannounced from the city to the door carrying bags from her deli in New York sure that they wouldn't have the same ki...

About the Instructor

Judy Blume broke the rules. Her refreshingly honest children’s books were banned by hundreds of libraries and loved by generations of readers, who bought 85 million copies of classics like Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret and Superfudge. In her first online writing class, the award-winning author teaches you how to invent vivid characters, write realistic dialogue, and turn your experiences into stories people will treasure.

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Judy Blume

In 24 lessons, Judy Blume will show you how to develop vibrant characters and hook your readers.

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