Creating Captivating Characters-Novel Writing Blueprint Class 3 | Susan Palmquist | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Creating Captivating Characters-Novel Writing Blueprint Class 3

teacher avatar Susan Palmquist, Author, Dream Inspirer and Writing Guru

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

4 Lessons (17m)
    • 1. Introduction to Captivating Characters

    • 2. Lesson One-What Makes a Great Character for a Story?

    • 3. Lesson Two-Creating the Memorable Character

    • 4. Lesson Three-Character Building Excercises

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels
  • Beg/Int level
  • Int/Adv level

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class


In this class you'll learn how to create captivating characters each time you write a story. I'll tell you about ways you can make a reader become invested in your character and offer some exercises to help you get to know your character before you start writing.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Susan Palmquist

Author, Dream Inspirer and Writing Guru



I’m Susan Palmquist and for the last 20 years I’ve been an author, freelance writer, editor, blogger, teacher and tutor, (and before that I was a publicist).

It feels like I’ve squeezed a lot into two decades and it’s my tips and experience that I’ve learned along the way that I’m now happy to share with you here at Skillshare.

I’d like to show you how you too can write for fun or even for a living whether it be fiction or non-fiction.

Getting published wasn’t easy for me but I’m now the author, (under my own name and pen name Vanessa Devereaux), of 100 plus books and counting. There’s nothing I love more than helping others do the same thing.

I have my own coaching and critiquing business... See full profile

Related Skills

Writing Creative

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • Exceeded!
  • Yes
  • Somewhat
  • Not really
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction to Captivating Characters: Hello and welcome to the third installment off my novel writing blueprint class here at Skill Share My name, Susan Palmquist. On this month, we're going to be focusing on creating captivating characters. Andi, I will say I do have another class hero skill share that is just completely about creating characters. So if you want to check that out, I'll give it a shameless self promotion. Here on it goes more in depth than this particular clause. But if you're just looking for kind of, ah, you know, on over overall roundabout the cloths on creating characters, then this is for you. But if you do want to go more in depth, then I suggest you check out that that Class two. So this, as I said, is the third installment in the year long novel writing class, and I'll just go over what we've covered so far. In case showing you here on, we've worked on what sort of story you want to write and worked out your writing schedule on last month. It was all about how to plot your novel. So if you've been with me from the beginning, then you know this is following on you don't have to take them all, but I really suggest you do check them all out because I think it give you a more rounded idea of how to write a novel. If you're new on, Do you know it's something that you is on your to do list put this year? So what is this class going to be about? Well, obviously, it's going to be about characters, the people who live the story that you're going to tell Andi The focus will be on creating a character who will make a bring to sit up and take notice and also creating ones that come across as lifelike. And thirdly, it's a character who engages the reader so much that they want to read on to see what happens to this character. You know, whether they they reach their goals or not. So these are all things that will be touching upon in this class. I'm will get straight into it in less than one on. I'll see you then 2. Lesson One-What Makes a Great Character for a Story?: Hello. I'm welcome back on dime calling this lesson What makes a great character now, First of all, I want you to think about a book you really enjoyed. It might be one you read last week last year, but it's something that kind of stayed with you after you read the last sentence, you know, kind of plays in your head and you think I really enjoyed that. And I'm said that that book came to an end. Onda, uh, then I want you to think about what was it that How'd your attention Why did you love that book so much? And why do you even remember it? It could be a book that you read a decade ago. What made it so memorable to you on Dino? You. Some of you might put your answer in the comments, but without even saying that I'm guessing that 99% of you are gonna mention a character. And for May, it often is a character who kind of holds my interest. And, you know, I'm pulling for them when things are going bad in that story. And on that they just are so memorable on. That's what we want to achieve Every time we sit down, Teoh write a story for me. A good character can separate on Okay, story from the bestseller, And it also the ones that make editor sit up and take notice of your work To think about plots is only so many plots out there that you can come up with. I mean, I think someone said there's only 10 basic plots out there and we kind of us writers have to conduct play around a little bit and put a new twist on something. But what can really make, ah, a kind of, you know, hackneyed story seem different? Is the character. Each time you create a character, you're kind of creating a new plot. If if that. But Mike sent because each character, like each person in the world, is completely different, it's up to you to the writer that might show that you give the reader that experience of, uh, you know, never never met this person before. I've never met this character before, so I think it is a skill that you really do need to, um, attained. If you're really gonna be successful at novel writing on duh it's why was you know, I teach a class specifically on creating great characters for that reason, because I think that you will stand out against your competition if you know have to do that. Andi, I'll let you into secret. I also do love creating great, you know, characters. Characterisation for me is something I actually prefer to the plotting my story. So there are let you into a little secret there. So in the next lesson, we're gonna movinto how we actually do create that great character. So I'll see you then. 3. Lesson Two-Creating the Memorable Character: Hello. I'm welcome back, and in this lesson we're going to be talking about creating the memorable character, the one that lives on in the reader's memory long after they're finished reading the story . So how do we do that? Well, one thing I like to do is think that a reader wants to read about someone who has similar qualities to themselves. Maybe it's, you know, it could be a fear. It doesn't have to be anything heroic. I know most stories. We'll always think that the characters to be kind of the hero, which in a way they are because they overcome adversities in that story. But we really do want to read and identify with people that have similar qualities. And it could be maybe affair of something could be a fear of, say, spiders or being left alone. When you get old, you you've outlived your family and your friends and something like that. So look for things even within yourself. Think about your own fears or your own, want your own needs and project that into the character that you're creating. I think that that cements kind of a bond between the reader and the character, and that's what Khanna, you know, jails that together on, makes them want to read on to see what happens on The next thing is they have to be believable on. I see lots of, especially it's more TV than books. But people that are the kind of evil guy on TV or some books do this, too, and they're they're all bad, and I think they're probably all I love. You know there are a lot of very evil people in the world, but even people that are bad ah, have certain qualities that we think Oh yeah, we know why they're doing certain things, Onda, um that that makes the character more believable. You don't have to like them, but you have to believe that they could exist in real life people. I think you know they're sophisticated enough to know these aren't real people in a book, but you still want them to have that kind of escapism. I think that's why most of us, really. We know it's not real, but we want to escape our every day lives. When we dive into a book, we want to be entertained, but still we want to believe that these people could actually exist in the real world. And if you think of even, you know, like a mystery or horror story, that kind of ups are, you know, all this person this evil person could exist on, we should be scared. And that's entertaining, too. So make your character as believable as you can. And the next thing is the three dimensional, which kind of ties in with what I've said so far there? No, you know that their heroic, but not to the point. They like superheroes. They put on a cape and, you know, they they save the world every night. But they overcome something in your story. You should always have a character who needs something who has a goal that needs to be fulfilled, whether it's, you know, driving cross country to get to an event. And then you need something that stands in their way. And it's how they get past that, something that stands in their way that's going to make them believable and three dimensional. They're not going to just let things happen to them. They're going to be the instigators of coming over this adversity or say for example, is driving across country, you know, maybe they run out of gas that run out of money. What are they going to do to get the money to fill the car with gas so they can get to Maybe the West Coast is important interview. Or maybe they're they're meeting their long lost love. That's what makes them come across his life. Like you can identify with them and you cheer them all because you can see yourself in their position. You thinking well, they're a lot like me. What would I do? I want to read on because I want to see if they do get to the West Coast, the what else happens to them. And in that way, when they do arrive there and they met their goal, they become your hero. So in a way, they are heroic. And lastly is that identification thing. I'm more like me. Teoh have an emotional pull to someone that I can identify with that someone. They don't have to be exactly the same as may. But, uh, you know, maybe you start to feel for them because you've been in that situation. You felt that same emotion, whether It's certainly is happiness or whatever. So all these things work together and create a memorable character, someone that you cheer on. And, uh, you know, you really want to read on to see what happens to them and if they're outcome, is happy and if they get what they want, so we'll talk more about the ways that you can get all these qualities into your characters in the next lesson. So I'll see you then. 4. Lesson Three-Character Building Excercises: Hello. I am welcome back and there we've reached the character creating exercises on you'll find This is he's actually your class project, and you'll find a PdF fall in the project section that you can download on. I call this my character profile, and I made this probably about five or six years ago, because I always say anything that makes your life easier is really a good thing. And when you're writing a couple of stories a year, maybe more anything that shortens and couldn't make it easier, I think it's a good thing. So I created this profile and your, you know, please use it if you want to, uh, go ahead with the class project, you can upload it and, you know, share it with everyone what you've come up with. And it just goes to some basic things of putting together a character like where they went to school, their family, and you can feel free to add more. Or some things might be pertinent to your character. Some things might not, depending on your story. Sometimes you might use everything for the next story. You may not depends on the kind of character that you're creating on. You can use it for every character in the your story, even for people that are already on page for you know, Pedro too. Use it for every character. Sometimes I've done that, but I definitely use it for ah, my main characters. So what does it feel? Free to download that and use it and post your project in the project section and share it with everyone and you can even tell us. Ah, you know why you came up with certain things and on share it with your fellow. Also on, I've got a couple of other exercises you can use if you don't want to use the character profile on, that's to do the interview. And lots of my students have fun with this one on its you pretend that you are going to interview your character for a magazine article. They're gonna be on the front overy find much magazine. So you sit down and you come up with a set of questions that you want to ask them. Imagine that you're going to write the article on them and this these questions, they're gonna form the actual article that you write profile about them. So you come up with a set of questions, and there again, this will be different for each character for each story. But I do find it is quite fun to do this, Onda, uh, so come up with a set of questions and then you're gonna go from interviewer to interview eight. You're gonna be come the character, and you're gonna ask yourself those questions that you've put together and you're gonna our answer them as if you were that character and this might seem strange and you think, How could I possibly do that? But by getting into the character's head and having toe answer these questions, you really find out everything there is to know about that character. Stuff comes up that you think, you know, I've had stories in my head and characters in my head and I think, right, I'm ready to broad. I know everything. And then I done this interview exercise and I'm like, Wow, I didn't know that about my character that they, you know, they were traumatized by so and so when they were a little kid. It's just amazing what you can drag out this. So I really encourage you even if you are going, the character profile route is to do this interview. And like I said, I think it really is fun on the final thing you can do on day. I guess this comes out for my background in psychology is to play therapist. Imagine you're the therapist and your character walks into your office and you know you're going to do some counseling with them. Ask yourself, You know what issues came up. This could be really exciting. If you're thinking, what what's gonna be the conflict in this story? What goal are they gonna try? May What would they What would they come to you for? Counseling about? What is their issue and what do they need help with? And sometimes that is a great, um, you know, kind of spark to a story idea. Even if you've got your character and you haven't got the plot yet. If you do this sometimes the plot just falls into place. So if you're ever in that predicament, try the therapist exercise and, you know, sit there and figure out what would I say back to them? What issues air coming up. How could I help them. And, you know, a whole bunch of stuff comes out just like it would in a roux. Uh, therapy. You know, Klein situations of all these. And if you've got time and if you really want to delve into your character, then I suggest you do all three. Sometimes I do that. If I'm having trouble with kind of connecting with a character, and I'm not sure how will they would react in a certain situation or go through all three of these. And it's just it really is amazing. So I do encourage you to try it. So that's it for this month and the creating captivating characters. As you said, if you do want to go into port depth with a characterization, then please check out my character class here. It's skill share and thank you for being with me again this month and thank you if you've been with me for the, you know, called the Classes so far, hope you're enjoying it on the next month will be moving on to point of view the person who's going to tell you a story, and hopefully by then you'll have this amazing character or characters worked out. And if you have any questions pills, you know, feel free to contact me. Leave a comment on on. As you always know, if you've taken a classmate, I'm always here to help you out. I love helping aspiring writers, authors and anyone that's, you know, trying to write a novel. I think that if this is your first attempt on, I just say Go for it. So once again, thank you, and I'll see you next month. Until then, take care and happy writing.