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"More Human: The Delicate Art of Writing Effective Protagonists" with Sara Kocek

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

11/7/2015 From 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM

 We're sorry, but this class is currently at capacity. There will be no tickets sold at the door. Proof of purchase will be required to enter classroom. Questions? Please see our Classes page or call 512-499-8914.


Part of our November Novel Writing Series

$49 for members (please sign in for member pricing)

$109 for 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, November 5. 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!

“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 general 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.

In this tightly packed half-day workshop, we’ll map out your protagonist’s strengths, flaws, secrets, goals, and long-term dreams. We’ll cover techniques to strike the right balance and avoid cliche "Mary Sue" characters. We’ll discuss how to shape your plot around your protagonist’s emotional growth to create powerful endings that satisfy on both a logistical and emotional level. In the end, you’ll walk away knowing your protagonist better than you know yourself!

You should attend this workshop if:

  • You are a beginner or intermediate-level fiction writer.
  • Your writing tends to be plot-driven and you need help with character development.
  • You are working on a novel and can’t seem figure out “the missing piece.”
  • Friends have told you your protagonist is hard to relate to.
  • Agents or editors have passed on your manuscript citing the reason that they just didn’t “connect” with the characters.
  • You are attempting to write a novel with an unreliable or unlikable protagonist.

About the instructor:

Sara Kocek is the author of Promise Me Something (Albert Whitman, 2013) and the founder of Yellow Bird Editors, an Austin-based collective of independent editors and writing coaches. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University, where she taught fiction and poetry to undergraduates and worked as a full-time editorial intern at Random House and Penguin. Prior to pursuing her MFA, Sara graduated with a B.A. in English from Yale University, where she worked as Writing Fellow, tutoring undergraduate and graduate students in academic and creative writing.


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: 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 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