Write Characters-Creating People Readers Will Love | Susan Palmquist | Skillshare

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Write Characters-Creating People Readers Will Love

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

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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

13 Lessons (21m)
    • 1. Write Characters Creating People Readers Will Love

    • 2. Lesson One-Great Characters

    • 3. Lesson Two-Character Sketch

    • 4. Lesson Three-Character Profile

    • 5. Lesson Four-Top Ten Lists

    • 6. Lesson Five-The Bucket List

    • 7. Lesson Six-Important People and Places

    • 8. Lesson Seven-A Conversation

    • 9. Lesson Eight-Stuck in an Elevator

    • 10. Lesson Nine-A Short Story

    • 11. Lesson Ten-First Three Pages

    • 12. Lesson Eleven-Saying Goodbye

    • 13. Wrap Up and Thank You

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About This Class

It isn’t always the plot readers remember the most about a great book but a character or characters that captures their attention, holds their interest, and makes them want to read on to find out what happens to them.

They’re the people who beckon to you from page one and say I’ve got this story to tell you, do you want to come along for the ride?

Sometimes it’s not always the plot that keeps you captivated throughout the whole length of the book but the character or characters who are living that plot.

This class isn't so much a how to create a great character but a set of exercises for you to try that I think will help you in creating great ones every time you sit down to write a story.

Once you’ve tackled all ten of them, you’ll know your character like your best friend and may even know them better than you know yourself.

And if you're an acting student I think you might find this class can help you prepare for an audition or role.

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

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1. Write Characters Creating People Readers Will Love: hello and welcome to write characters creating people. Readers will love my name, Susan Palmquist, and this is another one of my writing instruction classes for skill share. I don't know about you, but sometimes when I think about a good book I've read, it's not so much that the plot was great. But it was the characters who grabbed my attention, held my attention on, made me want to turn the pages until I got to the very end. And it's one of the reasons I've created this class. It's not so much a hell to create a character but more off exercises that will train you to work on making three dimensional characters lifelike characters not only for the book you're working on but future stories, too. And I think it's a valuable skill toe have not only for unpublished writers, but published writers, too. So I think there's there's a whole audience of you out there who could benefit from this cloth on. As I said, it's a Siri's off 10 very easy exercises that you can use. You can attempt to tackle all of them, one of them or just a few of them, but I think it will really will be an aid in helping you flesh out your character and delve into their psyche. So I hope you'll ah, click the enroll button and joined May, and I hope to see you in Listen one. 2. Lesson One-Great Characters: hello and welcome to write characters. Thank you so much for joining May before we get into the exercises. I'd like to go over what I think is actually what makes a great character on. The first quality, I think, is that they're identifiable well, like to read about people who are similar to ourselves. So I think if you give your character qualities that most of us have, even goals that we all have well want to the best for our families. We want to be happy. We want to be happy when we grow old and have a family members around us. So I think that the more they can identify with the character you create, so much the better, and they'll want to read on the second quality. They have a past. We all have a past history, and sometimes it effects who we are now and even who will be in the future. So I think the key is to fill the reader in on the characters past and kind of what makes them tick. What is it that's happened in their past? That makes them the people that they are? When your story begins, I think that that's an important element to add to your story. The third quality is they're believable. And, ah, I know lots of people think, Oh, you can create a villain and they're all bad Or you can create the good guy and the rule Good. But I think everyone is is neither good or bad. Everyone's kind of a mix of those, so don't make them too goody goody and don't like them to evil. But make them come across this believable. And the fourth element is that they change and grow throughout the course of your story. The people that they are at the beginning of the story, they shouldn't be. At the end of the story, something in your plot has changed them. Maybe people that they've met along the way has changed them, and they grow for that experience. They might mature. They may look at life in a different way, but they changed their never static throughout the whole length of your story On Finally, I think a great character is someone readers really care about. I know for May if I pick up a book and I'm not really connecting with a character, I really don't like them. I don't want to read on. But if I do connect with that person, I do want to know what happens to them. And it kind of adds that some conflict intention, which is another element you need in a story for them to want to read on. I want to see that that person is okay that they overcame obstacles may be defeated the bad guys, so that it's very important on. As we work our way through these exercises, I think that you'll be able to incorporate all these qualities into your character, so I'll see you in the next lesson. 3. Lesson Two-Character Sketch: hello and welcome back. And now we're going to start diving into the actual exercises on the 1st 1 is the character profile on this is something that you might even keep on your computer and fill in each time you create a story. Now, these are the kind of basic that I've listed here, and you might to want to kind of expand on certain things, depending on what type of story you're working on. But these are the very basics, and one is obviously your character's name. A nickname is sometimes helpful to include, because that can sometimes give you an insight into their personality and maybe what other people think about them, their place of birth, where they live. Now if it's different to where they were born, there occupation their family. Ah, their parents still alive. Did they have a happy childhood that this kind of reflects back on the past history that I mentioned in the previous lesson? What are their social and political beliefs? Sometimes that can really have ah major factor on who they are and maybe something in the storyline you're working on. What are their hobbies? Uh, all they involved in any groups. If so, which ones? That they'll give you some insight into a character illnesses and accidents that might impact their road personality. Maybe they were in a car accident when they were child. Our schooling? What did they study past relationships? Have they been engaged or married before? And do they have Children? Sometimes that's a great factor to bring into a storyline. And how do they feel about getting involved in a relationship at this point in their lives ? Off your you know, the point that you start your story sometimes that can start a whole new storyline going for you. So these are the very basics that I think that you should work on. And as I said, depending on what story you're working on, you may want to, uh, dive into more elements, maybe like family or political beliefs. And for each story, you might want to tweak the character profile a little bit, but I would start with this and and see where it takes you and go from there on. I'll see you in the next lesson. 4. Lesson Three-Character Profile: Hello and welcome back, and we're at the character interview, which is actually one of my favorite exercises. When I'm creating a character for this one, I want you to pretend that you're a journalist and your editors just assigned you the task of interviewing your character for a pro fall in the magazine. First of all, our sit down and think about the questions you'd like to ask your character. Once you have the questions in hand, the next step is to pretend that you are your character. I want you to answer each question, how you feel. They would answer it, and this is optional. But as a final step, you might want to step back into the roll off the journalist and write the actual profile. Sometimes that's really fun to do, And you can come up with some things that you wouldn't have thought off when you first thought about. Creating this character really does give you a good insight into who they are, and it might even spark another story idea. So, uh, look at it and think what an article about your character would read like and use it throughout the story. Maybe refer back to it as you write on. As I said, it's one of my favorite things to do. And if you don't try any of the other exercises in this court, definitely try this one. That's it for this lesson and also you in the next one. 5. Lesson Four-Top Ten Lists: Hello and welcome back on. The next exercise is called the Top 10 list, which I think it another actually fun exercise to try. And here's the scenario your character is asleep on. Here's their smoke alarm. Pierce the silence. They rush out of their bedroom to see flames engulfing part of their home. Now they know they only have a certain amount of time to get out, but they know that they probably have enough time to take some precious belongings with them. I want you to write down what 10 items would your character carry out off their home on? Once you have that list next to each item, I want you to write an explanation as to why they chose it. Simple exercise. But I think it's a fun one, and there again give you great insight into your character is on. I'll see you in the next exercise 6. Lesson Five-The Bucket List: Hello. I'm welcome back and we're at the next exercise, which is one of the shortest of the bunch. And it's the bucket list. Ah, your characters decides to sit down and write their bucket list. And I want you Teoh. No, what's on it and the reason it's on it. Maybe they have some ah wishes. Like most people travel the world. Maybe they want to learn a foreign language. Learn to play a musical instrument, delve into that and think about what your character would put on their bucket list and why there again show exercise but a fun one, and I'll see you in the next lesson. 7. Lesson Six-Important People and Places: Hello and welcome back on. We're at the next exercise, which is people and events on. We all have memorable people on events in our lives, and your characters need them, too. On here are a few things that I wish jot down when I'm in the process of creating a character, and yours might be different on there again. You might expand upon any of these or tweaked them, ADM. Or it's up to you. But this is what I basically start with. And the 1st 1 parents who they parent were they raised by a single mom. Maybe they were adopted. These were all things that might impact your character as they begin the journey of your story and teaches. What kind of student were they? Were they a good student, bad student with a kind of class clown on kids at school? What was their relationship like with the other kids in their class, where they, the bully were they bullied? Has that impacted their life now? Maybe they've got a chip on their shoulder now because of it. Maybe they're shine withdrawn and dating. Did they date a lot with a popular? Maybe it's a guy who played the field a lot. And Children? Do they have Children? Do they want Children? And what's their relationship like of a, Ah, good parent, bad parent? And the next aspect? I always look at his workplace whether they work. Are they the boss? Or maybe they're the CEO of the corporation that they get on well with their co workers and neighbors. What are they like when they're not at work? Are they a sociable or would the neighbors say, all their standoffish? They're kind of a loner, and we really don't know them. These are all elements that I think that you should, like notes on, and then when you go to create that character, I think it really helps you to make a three dimensional one that comes across is a Lifelock , really life like one, and I think that's that's the key to creating that great character. That's it for this exercise, and I'll see you in the next lesson. 8. Lesson Seven-A Conversation: hello and welcome back, and we're at the next exercise, which I've called a conversation. And sometimes having your character say something really conspire arc some insight into their personality. And that's why I've included this exercise in the class and start up a piece of dialogue with your character and maybe a secondary character or anyone at random. And here I've given you some scenarios that you can start working from. You don't have to use them, but you're welcome to use them to spark ER to my dears for dialogue on the 1st 1 is they go to the dog park and meet two other dog owners, the next one there in the dentist's office and get talking to someone. The 3rd 1 is there on a flight from New York to Los Angeles, and maybe start up a conversation with the person sitting across the aisle, and the next one is when they arrive in Los Angeles. The airlines lost their luggage next one, the renewing their driver's license. Then they're returning. A sweater that didn't fit on the next one is it's their child's first day of school on their taking them there on that, that might be a really good one to use. Maybe the child scared and the characters reflecting back to their first day of school on the next one. Is there visiting their father in the hospital on? I haven't seen him for maybe five years due to a misunderstanding that might be a great one to ah use. And it could spark some, Ah, ideas for a secondary character. Maybe the father on the last one is there late for work. And they have to explain why to their boss. So their things to get you started. But feel free to use your own scenarios on. That's it for this sir lesson. And I'll see you in the next one. 9. Lesson Eight-Stuck in an Elevator: Hello. I'm welcome back, and the next exercise is called stuck in an elevator. And sometimes nothing shows the true colors of your character better than when you put them in a dar situation. And I think getting stuck in an elevator is probably one off them, so you can just use the basic scenario that their stock. But I've given you some more ideas to play with, and I think it will help you delve more into their character on the 1st 1 is there on their on in the elevator, and they're absolutely petrified. Ah, 2nd 1 someone is with them who that person is. I'll leave that up to you. The third scenario is lots of people are in there. Maybe it's absolutely packed and they're having a panic attack that might be a fun one to use on. Then the 4th 1 is there, in there with someone they just had an argument with. I can imagine how or could that would be a So once again, I think that would be a fun one to use on. The final one is they have an actual phobia about being trapped in an elevator. Maybe it's always been one of their fears. And what if suddenly it finally happens on their trapped in there? And I think that that would be a good one to use so basic ideas up to you, whether you want to use them or just the basic stuck in the elevator scenario. But I think it's a fun one. And ah, there again, you Condell deep into your character psyche. That's it for this one and also you in the next exercise. 10. Lesson Nine-A Short Story: hello and welcome back. And this exercise involved writing a short story featuring your character. And this is kind of like a warm up exercise for your actual novel. And you might even create a great short story. Ah, that you might be able to even sell to a magazine. So definitely try this one on giving you some prompts to get you started. I know lots of people enjoy writing, prompt, just kind of get warmed up. So here's what I came up with. Feel free to use one or all of them. The 1st 1 is your character attends their high school reunion, the next one. They get a flat tart when they're on a first date with someone they've been trying to go out with for months, and maybe they want to impress them. And, ah, something terrible happens. The next one is your character attends a wedding and runs into someone they secretly adored in high school. The next one is your character goes on a job interview, and finally your character wakes up in the middle of nowhere. I think that's probably are fun. One Teoh play with So once again, feel free to use all of them, one of them, or just come up with your own scenario. But definitely use this short story. And I think you'll be surprised what you learn from your character once you're done with it . That's it for this exercise and also you in the next one. 11. Lesson Ten-First Three Pages: Hello and welcome back. And this is the quickest exercise of them all. Annex the 1st 3 pages. Now that you've kind of know your character a little bit better delve into their psyche. I want you to write the 1st 3 pages or whatever pages your character first appears in your story. Just give that a try and see what happened. See what you learn from it? What you maybe need to work on on once again. Another fun exercise and something that you might be up to use to create a short story or even muted as the actual 1st 3 pages of your novel. Okay, that's it. And I'll see you in the next exercise. 12. Lesson Eleven-Saying Goodbye: hello and welcome back and we're at the final exercise, which is saying goodbye. And I've chosen this exercise because you always want to add some emotional element to your book. And I think that this really will help you get into your character even more. There's nothing like I want their sad situation, but the situation that's maybe uncomfortable and awkward that they really show you who your character is on. Once again, it's a basic scenario off them. Saying goodbye to someone are important, But I've added some other things here that you might be able to you so feel free to use any of these scenarios. The 1st 1 is there saying goodbye to someone who's dying. Or maybe it's your character who's dying and saying goodbye to someone. They love the next one there saying goodbye to an old friend who's been visiting for the weekend. Next one. Maybe they're a college student heading off to college for the first time on their having to say goodbye to their parents on the final one is they might be saying goodbye to someone who's in the military, and they've just been deployed. Or maybe they're the person who's in the military and going off for the first time to being deployed. These are just ideas. You're free to use them. Tweet them on. I really think that this is, Ah, good exercise to conclude the rest of the exercises because it will give you one more element. Teoh. Find out who your characters are, what makes them tick. Andi, I think you'll be surprised what you find out. Well, that's it for the exercises. And I'll see you in the wrap up video Next. Thank you. 13. Wrap Up and Thank You: Hello. I'm welcome back to the wrap up of video. I hope you've enjoyed the cloths and, ah, the exercises. Hope you'll tackle some of them and really enjoy them on. Also hope you'll attempt the class project, and I'll be looking forward to seeing what you come up with. And I'm always available off questions messages to sleeve them, and I'll get back to you as soon as possible. As I always say, I'm here to help you in any way I can, and there's no such thing as a silly question. So please leave a message or a question on, and I hope I can help you out in some way. Thank you so much for taking this class, and I hope you'll check out the other classes I have on skill share and I'll be up loading some more soon. So watch out for those two Onda once again, Thank you on happy writing and take care