Novel Essentials: Introducing Characters

Friday, October 20th, 10:30am-1:30pm
Remote (Live Zoom Meetings)
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Level: For Everyone
Adult (18+)
This class is full

One of the most exciting experiences in reading fiction, when you are in the hands of a talented writer, is meeting a new character. Add one or two paragraphs of description, whether the character appears at the book’s opening or as an unexpected arrival halfway through, and the reader will be intrigued. But in order for an introduction to be effective, the description must be able to invoke a unique personality with just a few sentences. All too often one reads about a “tall, dark, handsome man” or a “blue-eyed, pretty blonde.” Introduce a generic character, and the reader’s mind begins to wander; when the character appears next, the reader may not even remember who it is. Yet a skilled writer, sometimes with only a single turn of phrase or one memorable descriptor, can make a character instantly stand out as an individual.

In this seminar, we will talk about the best ways of introducing a character memorably and distinctly. We will look at several examples from published authors, analyzing their various techniques, and we will try our own hands at introducing new characters who grab the reader’s attention. By the time the seminar is over, we will have articulated several methods by which a generic type can be transformed into an unforgettable figure.

Part of GrubStreet's Novel Essentials Series, led by Ursula DeYoung and dedicated to exploring the fundamental building blocks of the novel. Classes include:

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Ursula DeYoung
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Previous Students Say

  • "Generative"
  • "Supportive Environment"
  • "Inundated with Great Info"


  • Generate New Work
  • Craft Lessons
  • In-Class Writing
  • Instructor Feedback
  • Workshop
  • Revision Assignments
  • Lecture
  • Class Discussion
  • Reading Homework
  • Writing Homework
  • Concept Development


  • The Novel

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