Fiction Skills: Create Brilliant Characters

Discover the secrets of successful character creation, and try out failsafe techniques to bring your own characters to life

Characters are at the heart of memorable fiction. Readers want to meet people they can go for a drink with or fall in love with or shout at. Characters they feel they know — or wish they knew. This four-week course, run by our partners at Faber Academy, helps you understand the conventions of writing characters and shows you how to create more engaging characters to keep your readers hooked. It will expand your range of techniques and challenge you to experiment with your writing.




Fiction Skills: Create Brilliant Characters is suitable for complete beginners or anyone who’s taken a beginners’ fiction course and wants to broaden their knowledge of characters, explore new skills and develop their writing techniques.

The course is suitable if you:

  • Are struggling to bring your characters to life
  • Want to learn the techniques writers use to create realistic and engaging characters
  • Are keen to understand what makes a good character and how you can apply this to your fiction writing
  • Want to join a friendly and supportive group of learners
  • Can dedicate 5-7 hours per week for the duration of the course

Tutor Tom Bromley will introduce you to the skills and techniques that will help you create fascinating and engaging characters.

Over two sessions, Tom will introduce you to the skills needed for creating your characters while you work within a supportive community of fellow writers keen to share their experiences with you.

Session 1: Creating great characters
Where do great characters come from? We’ll look at different ways of building a character from scratch, whether from yourself, from another person, from your imagination, or from a mix of all three. You’ll emerge with greater awareness of how different writers work and a list of craft skills to work on. 
Session 2: Bring your characters to life
We’ll look in greater depth at tips and techniques to bring your characters to life: description that sets them in your reader’s mind, ways to conjure up convincing back stories, and methods to make your reader care about the characters you create. You’ll write a 2,000-word character-focused piece using the techniques you’ve experimented with. You’ll have the chance to share your work with the group, so you can give each other feedback.

You’ll learn in Faber Academy’s online classroom, which is open 24/7 so you can balance your learning around your work, family and friends. You’ll work in a small group of fellow learners so you can discuss ideas, ask questions and share your writing as you progress through the sessions.

You’ll learn from:

  • Podcasts from Tom Bromley
  • Written guidance from Tom explaining what makes a great character — and what doesn’t
  • Specially selected reading extracts and suggestions for further reading
  • Q&A forum with your tutor to answer your questions
  • A quiz to assess and broaden your current character-creation skills
  • Group discussions to help you think about your own characters
  • Writing exercises and prompts to help you experiment and practise your own writing, from the first session onward
  • Online discussions with writers in your group and the chance to share and give feedback on each other’s writing

You’ll need:

  • 5-7 hours per week to work through the course
  • A notebook and pen or pencil, if you like to make notes by hand
  • A laptop or computer* with:
    • A reliable broadband internet connection
    • Speakers or headphones
    • The latest version of Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Edge, or Safari
    • Microsoft Word. If you don’t have this you can download Open Office free
    • Adobe Reader, latest version. Download free
    • QuickTime Player, latest version. Download free

*You can access the course from a tablet or smartphone, but we recommend using a laptop or computer, as this makes it easier to share your work files with your writing group.

Join the Faber Academy alumni

After your course, you can join the online alumni where you’ll meet the growing network of past Faber Academy students. The alumni is a friendly group of writers who support each other as they continue to explore and develop their writing.

Within the online alumni area you can:

  • Rejoin your classmates on a private forum and access an archived version of your course materials and forum posts
  • Meet alumni from other Faber Academy courses and groups and share your work for feedback on our alumni critiquing forum
  • Join in on discussions about reading, writing, editing and ideas on our general discussion forum. This is also where we share news and useful info
  • Retain access to our resources area, which has interesting and informative links
  • Chat with other people online using the alumni area live chatroom. We also host live chats with guest tutors, authors, agents, editors and publishers

Commission a report on your work

If you’d like to receive a personalised, detailed report on your final piece of writing from your course tutor, this is available at an extra cost. You’ll receive detailed written feedback assessing your ideas and writing, plus advice on what steps to take next.

Taking things further

If you'd like to continue on to another Faber Academy course, you'll receive a discount. Please get in touch for more details.

This is a Faber Academy course, so you’ll need to book through their website.

What our students say...

The biggest thing I have got out of the Create Brilliant Characters course is the really helpful criticism. I don’t tend to show people any writing — and especially not writers themselves — so I have found the comments from my peers really really helpful.


What our students say...

This course has been valuable in helping me write stronger characters, write succinct descriptions and show me how to make them more interesting, rounded and human — even fantasy characters. I thank all of my peers who commented on my work, as it absolutely helped me improve. The course also galvanized me into entering a short story competition.


What our students say...

I have found all three Faber Academy short courses invaluable, as apart from the excellent tutor advice and materials, they have instilled in me much needed discipline. I’m hoping I can now keep myself on track as I, dare I say it, try to start a novel.


What our students say...

It has been a pleasure to read some very good writing here week after week. I think we’ve all managed to both learn and be inspired by each other’s writing — as well as by the course materials.


What our students say...

I’m so grateful that there are audio and visual options for some parts of this course because I struggle to read.


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