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 Shoneyin The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives