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Characterization: Writing Characters With Depth And Appeal

  • Iowa Writers' House 332 East Davenport Street Iowa City, IA, 52245 United States (map)

Characterization: Writing Characters With Depth And Appeal

WHEN: Friday, August 12, 6-8 pm
Saturday, August 13, 9:30 am- 3:30 pm (lunch break 12-1 p.m.)
Sunday, August 14, 9:30 am- 2:30 pm (lunch break 12-1 p.m.)
WHERE: The Iowa Writers' House, 332 E Davenport St
FEE: $245 -- sign up before July 31 to receive $20 off the registration fee!

Writing great characters is at the core of every great writer’s skill set. A well-drawn character is someone who seems ready to walk off the page and begin talking with your readers. Dynamic characters are those that leave a reader wanting more and create a book that is unforgettable. Yet when characters lack depth, the entire story suffers.

In this workshop we’ll focus on how to fine-tune your characterization skills. We'll take a two-pronged approach and focus on both the interior life of a character and the visible, physical details. We will also look at some examples of successful character descriptions from published novelists, memoirists, and short story writers. Lastly, we’ll work on character sketches together in class.

Writers will leave from the weekend with a newfound set of tools and approaches for characterization.

Poets and nonfiction writers should feel free to sign up – the goal, above all, is to write with precision about the world we inhabit.

Christine Sneed is the author of the novels Paris, He Said and Little Known Facts, as well as the story collections Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry and the forthcoming The Virginity of Famous Men.

She has been published in The Best American Short Stories, O. Henry Prize Stories, New Stories from the Midwest, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, New England Review, The Southern Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, Greensboro Review, and a number of other periodicals.

Her books have received AWP’s Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction, Ploughshares' Zacharis prize, the Society of Midland Authors Award, the Chicago Public Library’s 21st Century Award, and Book of the Year from the Chicago Writers Association.

Sneed lives in Evanston, IL and teaches creative writing for the MFA program at Northwestern University and is also on the fiction faculty of the Regis University low-residency MFA program.


Everyone has a story to tell. If you are financially unable to attend this workshop, scholarships are available through our generous partners and donors. 


Helping another person attend a workshop is helping them achieve their dreams. Thank you for making our world a better place.


Earlier Event: August 11
This Is Our Peace: Many Races, One Iowa
Later Event: August 16
Great Green Room Write-In