Online: Zoom

Novel Essentials: Introducing Characters

Friday, March 4th, 10:30am-1:30pm.
Online: Zoom
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Level: For Everyone
Adult (18+)
13 seats max

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.

Class Format

This class will take place using Zoom videoconferencing. About 15 minutes before your class is scheduled to begin, you'll receive an email from your instructor with a link to join the class meeting!

GrubStreet Vaccine Protocol

Please submit your proof of vaccination here at least 48 hours before your class begins. If you are not able to fill out our vaccination form 48 hours before your class begins, please bring your vaccine card (or a photo of it) with you to the building. Please note that if you arrive for class and you have not filled out the form and do not have proof of vaccination with you, you will not be allowed to participate in the class. And don’t forget your mask! In accordance with the City of Boston, masks will be required at all times while inside the building. Click here to read GrubStreet's full Vaccination and Masking Policy.

Need help getting vaccinated? It’s free and easy to receive a COVID-19 vaccine! Please visit Massachusetts’ VaxFinder page to find a vaccination site near you. If you'd like to learn more, you can read the answers to some commonly asked questions about COVID vaccination here.

Scholarship Information

Thanks to the excellent literary citizenship of our donors, scholarships are available for all GrubStreet classes. To apply, click the gray "APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP" button. In order to be considered for a scholarship, you must complete your application at least one week before the start date of a class. Please await our scholarship committee's decision before registering for the class. We cannot hold spots in classes, so the sooner you apply, the better. Scholarships cannot be applied retroactively.

For more more detailed information about GrubStreet scholarships, including how to contribute to scholarship funds for other students, click here.

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Ursula DeYoung
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Previous Students Say

  • "Inspired Me to Write More"
  • "Inundated with Great Info"


  • Study Published Writing
  • Class Discussion
  • In-Class Writing


  • The Novel

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