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"Developing Characters: Make Readers Root for Your Protagonist" with Jennifer Ziegler

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ACC Highland Campus, rm 2104
6101 Airport Blvd.
Austin, TX 78752

10/1/2016 From 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM


$49 for members (log in for member pricing)

$109 for nonmembers

Online registration is now closed for this event.

If you wish to attend, there are still a few seats available for purchase at the door on a first-come, first-served basis. Please arrive at least 15 minutes early and pay with exact cash or check (made out to Writers' League of Texas). The walk-up rate is $59 for members and $119 for nonmembers - as long as seats are available. Before purchasing, please read all policies as noted below and on our Classes page.

“It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does.”

   ―William Faulkner

There’s no way around it. As authors we have to fully get to know our characters -- better, even, than they know themselves. Well-developed characters are the sticky mortar that holds all the other facets of a narrative together. They drive plot. They are products of setting and backstory. They grapple with themes. Most importantly, compelling characters draw readers into a story and keep them turning pages until it ends. An author can have a fascinating plot, but without realistic, engaging, and relatable characters, readers will not be able to follow it.

But what if you are struggling to find characters? Or to make them realistic? What if you, as writer, don’t understand your characters or find them boring or discover that they are rebelling against you? (It can happen.)  Or, conversely, what if you have a wonderful character … but no clear plot?

This three-hour class will help writers understand the role characters play in storytelling and give tips on how to find and develop them -- and thereby, the plot. There will be some brief writing -- but only to demonstrate techniques for understanding characters. The class will be a safe space to learn and think. No students will be made to read aloud or share.

Class takeaways will include:

  • Definitions on the different types of characters in fiction
  • Techniques on finding the right character for your novel (or the right plot for your character)
  • Some methods for problem solving

This class is for writers of any and all kinds of fiction.


About the instructor:

Jennifer Ziegler is the author of over 25 books, including everything from stand-alone novels to series work to TV tie-ins, and range in genre from quirky comedy to action-adventure to dystopian. Her books have been featured on the Lone Star List and International Reading Association’s Young Adults Choice list, recommended on NPR’s “Tell Me More,” optioned for film, and adapted into stage musicals. She also had the honor of serving as The Writers’ League of Texas’s Program Director until March of this year. Ziegler lives with her husband, author Chris Barton, in Austin, where she continues to write books, lead writing workshops, and give presentations at schools, conferences, and book festivals.


REGISTRATION BY MAIL: If your browser has difficulty with our website store, or if you prefer to mail in a check, click HERE for a class registration form. The document provides instructions on where to mail it.

NOTE: Once a purchase has been made, tickets are not refundable and registration cannot be transferred to a different class or event. No exceptions will be made. 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 policies, please visit our Classes page.

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 Austin Community College for its generous support and commitment to community, ongoing education, and the arts. Visit