Creative Writing: Crafting Complex Characters (Quickly) for Short Fiction

Benjamin Woodard, Writer, Teacher, Critic, & Editor

Play Speed
  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x
8 Lessons (25m)
    • 1. Introduction and Overview

      1:56
    • 2. What is a “Character Bible”?

      1:44
    • 3. Round Vs. Flat Characters

      4:15
    • 4. Archetypes

      3:38
    • 5. Building the Character: Highs and Lows

      3:08
    • 6. Building the Character: The Speed Date

      4:42
    • 7. Building the Character: P.O.V. Paragraphs

      3:56
    • 8. Results and Closing

      1:55
14 students are watching this class

About This Class

Novelists often refer to “character bibles” when discussing the writing process. These “bibles” are intensive explorations of major characters—establishing traits, beliefs, and histories—designed to allow a novelist to understand not only who the characters are in his/her/their plot, but who they were before the novel, as well.

In this class, we’ll take this concept of character bibles and apply it to the art of short fiction, providing your protagonist with virtues and flaws, as well as investigating how thoughts and opinions change with age.

Whether you’re writing a 400 or 4000-word short story, you need to know your protagonist’s tics, joys, and sorrows in order to create a believable connection with an audience. As such, the goal of this class is to provide writers of all skill levels with a quick and easy multi-part project designed to build a credible character in under an hour. By the end of this class, you will have not only a mini character bible, but will have also “spoken” with your character, which will assist you in choosing the right point-of-view for your story. 

The skills in this class can be applied to all manner of fiction writing beyond short stories, from comic books to screenplays, as well as to elements of creative nonfiction. They also provide the author with a useful exercise to keep in a writer’s toolbox.

To take this class, one must only have access to a word processing program, a piece of paper or two, and a vivid imagination.