Fiction Writing Masterclass

Lesson 2: Character Creation & Development

This week we’ll cover how to create believable characters, how to portray them on the page using 5 different methods, and the importance of limiting the number of characters in short stories.

Elizabeth Dawber
15 min readFeb 7, 2022
Image created by author in Canva

This is the second lesson in an 8-part series on writing fiction. It will provide you with everything you need to know to write a short story from start to finish. For more information, including the content covered in each lesson, check out my introductory post here.

Creating believable characters is arguably the most important element of fiction writing because it is your readers’ investment in those characters that will compel them to continue reading. As cartoonist and children’s book author, Berkeley Breathed once said:

“I will go to my grave in a state of abject endless fascination that we all have the capacity to become emotionally involved with a personality that doesn’t exist.”

If you have ever found yourself crying at the poor fate of Anna Karenina or Oliver Twist or wishing you could give Heathcliff or Dorian Gray a good slap around the face, then it is because the authors of these books created living, breathing characters that you can’t help but become emotionally invested in.

But what about plot?

“Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.” ― Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

In Lesson 5 of this Fiction Writing Masterclass, we’ll cover story arc, as well as beginnings, middles, and ends, and this will help you create structure and momentum in your story, but in terms of how you approach writing at this early stage, forget plot, creating believable characters should be your number one priority.

Creating Believable Characters

Your writer’s notebook, as discussed in Lesson 1, is a great place to record details of people you observe when going about your daily routine. This could include anything from the way they speak, what they say, how they dress…



Elizabeth Dawber

English literature & creative writing grad | MWC semi-finalist | Former editor @ The Startup | I write about this thing called life | Human | Pen for hire |🇬🇧