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Building Character Four-Class Series

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St. Edward's University, Trustee Hall 303
3001 S. Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78704




$196 for members 

$436 nonmembers 

We're sorry, but these classes are no longer available as a series. Tickets to each individual class will still be sold as long as they are available. Please see our Classes page for more offerings and policies. Questions? Call us at 512-499-8914 or email

Characters are at the heart of every story, no matter what the genre. But how does an author go about creating believable and engaging characters? How does one reveal backstory and motive? What about side characters -- what role do they play? And how can setting be a key character in the story?

For this reason, we're offering a four-class series that looks at four components of effective character development, all taught by acclaimed writers who are also experienced teachers.

Below are class details. Click on the titles for more information.


"Characters Who Don't Play Well With Others: Crafting Credible Antagonists"

with Marian Szczepanski
Saturday, October 31, 2015, from 9:00 a.m. to 12 noon
at St.
 Edwards University, Austin, TX

Sympathetic characters are made much of in today’s literary circles. But what about the bad guys (or girls)? They lie and lust and lead the good guys (and girls) shockingly astray. At their worst, they’re the writer’s best friends, driving the plot by creating conflict, the linchpin of fiction. They deserve attention and thoughtful rendering on the part of the writer in order to reach their full potential as characters, rather than flimsy caricatures of evil. In this class we’ll discuss the nature and purpose of antagonists in fiction and consider specific examples, both classic and contemporary.

"More Human: The Delicate Art of Writing Effective Protagonists"

with Sara Kocek
Saturday, November 7, 2015, from 9:00 a.m. to 12 noon
at St. Edward's University, Austin, TX

"Sorry. I just didn't connect with the main character." A flat, unlikable, or unrealistic protagonist marks the kiss of death for most agents and editors, not to mention the reading public. But if you've ever been on the receiving-end of this criticism, you know how baffling it can feel. After all, isn't it a matter of subjectivity whether a particular reader "connects" with your main character? Yes and no. Regardless of your protagonist's gender, age, personality, orientation, disposition, and moral compass, there are steps you can take to make him or her more compelling, more relatable, more complex-more human.

"Setting as Character: How to Make Place More Than Just a Set Piece in Your Writing"

with Stephanie Noll
Saturday, November 14, 2015, from 9:00 a.m. to 12 noon
at St. Edward's University, Austin, TX

All stories occur in a time and place, and even if you write the most dynamic characters that engage in sparkling dialogue and are immersed in an intricate plot, you need to create a setting that is more than scenery. Where the story takes place can bring your story or novel to life, as setting gives your reader a sense of the emotional ground on which your characters walk. This class will look at novels and short stories where setting becomes a character that the work wouldn't be the same without. We'll examine how the writers of selected works establish a place and time in such a way that builds character and tension and makes a work unforgettable, and we'll complete writing exercises that give us the opportunity to create settings that will enrich our new or existing work.

"Minor Characters and Major Insights: How to Create a More Compelling Narrative Through an Exploration of Secondary Characters"

with Charlotte Gullick
Saturday, November 21, 2015, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon
at St. Edward's University, Austin, TX

Remembering that each character is at the center of his/her own story, this workshop will dive into the power and potential of minor characters and their influence on plot. We'll examine how an understanding of the conflicting desires, fates, and vulnerabilities of secondary characters can ratchet up and refine the overall story tension, whether for the novel or short fiction.

As always, if you have questions about this or any other programs, give us a call at 512-499-8914 or write us at

NOTE: Tickets are not refundable, but they are transferable. If you purchase a ticket and then find you cannot attend, someone else can attend in your stead. Simply contact us at or 512-499-8914 and let us know so that we can update the class roster. For more information, visit our Classes

This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department. Visit Austin at


Writers' League of Texas classes and workshops are also funded in part by the Texas Commission on the Arts - Investing in a Creative Texas. For more information, go to

The Writers' League of Texas would like to thank St. Edward's University for its generous support and commitment to community, ongoing education, and the arts. Visit