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"Establishing and Developing Convincing Characters in Narrative Fiction" with John Pipkin

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St. Edward's University, Moody Hall 204
3001 S. Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78704

3/4/2017 From 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM

$49 members (sign in for member pricing)

$109 nonmembers

Before purchasing, please read all policies as noted below and on our Classes page.

Note: Online registration will close at the end of Thursday, March 2. After that you can pay admission at the door with a check for the walk up rate - $59 for members and $119 for nonmembers - as long as seats are available. Thank you!

Location Note: This class is held in Moody Hall, Room 204. This is a different building from past years' classes at St. Edward's University. You can find a campus map here

Regardless of the genre or style of novel, characters are at the center of any effective story, and characters are what pull readers into the narrative and drive the plot forward.  Often when you think that you are having "plot problems," what you are really having are "character problems," since well-developed characters can help show you what will happen next in the story. Telling a story is not just a question of what the writer wants to have happen next, but rather the result of what the characters choose to do.  Strong characters, in other words, will help you find the story that you are trying to write. 

In this half-day workshop, students will do the following:

  • Examine the basic elements necessary for creating convincing and compelling characters, such as backstory, motivation, wants and needs, strengths and weaknesses
  • Discuss strategies for how to develop those characters over the course of a novel-length narrative. 
  • Identify some of the traps and dead ends that can leave otherwise intriguing characters feeling flat and lifeless.  

About the instructor: 

John Pipkin’s first novel, Woodsburner, was published to national acclaim by Doubleday in 2009. Woodsburner won the New York Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the Massachusetts Center for the Book Novel Prize, and the Texas Institute of Letters Stephen Turner Prize for First Novel. His new historical novel, The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter, was published by Bloomsbury in 2016.  John was the Dobie Paisano Fellow at UT-Austin for the spring of 2011, and he recently returned from a three-week writing fellowship at the MacDowell Artist's Colony in New Hampshire.  Currently, John is the Writer-in-Residence at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, and he also teaches at UT-Austin and in the Low-residency MFA Program at Spalding University in Louisville, KY.

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 St. Edward's University for its generous support and commitment to community, ongoing education, and the arts. Visit