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Creative Writing

4. Creating Vivid Characters

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about how to create vivid, memorable characters, focusing in particular on: (i) the importance of both major and minor characters to a story; (ii) the relationship between character and plot; (iii) the difference between characters in a story and characters in real life; (iv) some aspects of character that can serve as levers for creating vividness – action (what they do), dialogue (what they say), appearance (what they look like) and purpose (what they want); and (v) the extent to which characters should be 'larger than life'


In this course, the writer and critic Edmund Gordon (author of The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography) provides some tips and tricks for improving one's creative writing, both fiction and non-fiction. In the first module, we think about the importance of details when it comes to one's writing (cf. Colm Tóibín's dictum that "a novel is a thousand details"). After that, in the second module, we think about narrative and plot, focusing in particular on the narrative theories of Aristotle (Poetics, c. 335 BC) and E. M. Forster (Aspects of the Novel, 1927). In the third module, we think about narrative viewpoint, before turning in the fourth module to explore why and how we create vivid, memorable characters. In the fifth and final module, we think about the importance of dialogue in creative writing.


Edmund Gordon is a writer and Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at King's College, London. His first book, The Invention of Angela Carter (2016) received the Somerset Maugham Award, the Biographers’ Club/Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize and a Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Award for Nonfiction, and was a finalist for the US National Book Critics’ Circle Award. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2018.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Gordon, E. (2022, April 11). Creative Writing - Creating Vivid Characters [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Gordon, E. "Creative Writing – Creating Vivid Characters." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 11 Apr 2022,