Write Brain: Creating Effective Characters

Class: Creating Effective Characters

Thumpthumpthump…this was one of the Lifelong Learning classes that made my heart race. The anxiety kind, not the overjoyed and giddy kind. I have observed, appreciated, and absorbed characters, but trying to develop and write a story about fictional characters would have left me with 200 pages of blank, or worse, 200 pages of boring, one-dimensional blah. That was precisely why I thought this would be a good challenge. Somehow I needed to overcome my sixth-grade fear of fictional writing.

What I realized is that writing creatively is not magic and it’s not instant. It can be magical, but it takes a lot of reading, thinking, studying, observing, and revising to create a compelling story. Our instructor, Kara, shared writing techniques and exercises that can help develop the dimensions of a character, and I think I took more notes and drew almost as many diagrams as in my irrigation class. My classmates seemed to have a deeper mastery of the novel-writing process since some of them had, well, already written novels. That could have been intimidating, but instead it confirmed how much practice and work a story takes for most writers.


The only fictional stories that I have not been too embarrassed to save are from when I was in elementary school. These stories are not spectacular and typically end with “and they lived happily ever after,” but they are pre-fear. With a bit more confidence and a few rewrites, I have the first two pages of a story about an inventive owl. 198 to go.