Bernardine Evaristo gave a class on writing strong characters at The Free Word Centre, as a part of The Literary Consultancy’s digital conference.

Top Tips

  • Your characters need to be believable, that is, as psychologically complex and flawed as we members of the human race.
  • A happy life is great to lead but not so great to read about; it’s your job to create problems for your characters.
  • It sometimes helps to base your characters on people you know, but be warned, there are sometimes consequences…
  • When writing in the first person, your character might just start writing herself. Go with the flow.
  • There are no rules only tools – hoover up the advice of writers but only take what works for you.


Reading List

Ten novels with strong characters

Junot Diaz The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Stephen King Misery
Catherine Johnson Hero
Kazuo Ishiguro Remains of the Day
Sapphire Push
Hollis Hampton Jones Comes the Night
Matthew Kneale English Passengers
John Grisham Runaway Jury
Maggie Gee My Cleaner
Lola ShoneyinThe Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives