Novel writing masterclass: how to create compelling characters


Join author and journalist Jessica Fellowes for this online workshop in creating and developing characters for your fictional work.

Most people start with an idea for a novel: a plot twist or clever whodunnit. But it’s characters that keep us turning the pages. How can you create characters that get the reader invested in the final outcome?

This interactive two and half hour course will take an in-depth look at the creative process that fiction writers use to develop characters that feel real. You’ll also explore how to keep a character on track, whether for the length of a novel or a series. You will learn the importance of making sure that a character behaves truthfully, in accordance with the characteristics you have given them, and how this might sometimes mean a plot has to adjust its direction.

Your characters are the living embodiment of your novel and you will have to spend a lot of time with them but if you get the detail right, it can help you steer the direction of your writing in a way that feels (almost!) painless. Through practical exercises and lively discussion, you will learn the key skills required to get your characters down on paper. 

The course will cover:
  • The starting points. What prompts can bring a character to life?
  • Working out a character’s backstory
  • How to use real-life inspiration…without being sued for libel!
  • Quick character hacks: interviewing your characters
  • What do you need to know for major and minor characters?
  • Good period detail: how to research it, what to include and what to leave out
  • How to develop a character arc

The course is appropriate for anyone who is interested in writing a novel or has begun writing and started to feel stuck. Both experienced and inexperienced writers are welcome, across all fiction genres.

About your tutor:

Jessica Fellowes is an author, journalist and public speaker. The Mitford Murders is her debut series as a novelist and has been nominated for awards in Britain, France, Germany and Italy, and sold into eighteen territories. Jessica is also the author of five official companion books to Downton Abbey, various of which hit the New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller lists. Former columnist for the Mail on Sunday and deputy editor of Country Life, she has written short stories for Vogue Italia and L’Uomo Vogue, and made numerous appearances on radio, podcasts and television.

The course will be delivered on Zoom, and participants will be required to have their microphones on at certain points and encouraged to have their cameras on.  

Course date: Thursday, June 9, 6.30-9pm

Price: £75 - places are limited.

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