“Treat all your secondary characters like they think the book’s about them.” – Jocelyn Hughs
“Every villain is a hero in his own mind.” – Tom Hiddleston
“Don’t expect the puppets of your mind to become the people of your story. If they are not realities in your own mind, there is no mysterious alchemy in ink and paper that will turn wooden figures into flesh and blood.” —Leslie Gordon Barnard

Reading Assignments:

Note: If you are not planning a sci-fi novel, you don’t need to read the sections on creating alien species, which bleeds heavily into world building. If your aliens are a major part of your story and will be interacting with your humans, you’ll want to start thinking about such things as what they look like and what their social construct is, especially as each alien will have different personalities, just like humans do. If your aliens are not sentient creatures, or don’t interact with humans much, if at all, then skip the creating aliens sections until you get to world building, then come back to learn about aliens.

1.) 33 Ways to Write Stronger Characters – by Kristen Kieffer
2.) The Four Cornerstones of Strong Characters – by M.J. Bush 
3.) 5 Secrets of Complex Supporting Characters – by K.M. Weiland
4.) The Secret to Writing Dynamic Characters: It’s Always Their Fault – by K.M. Weiland
5.) How to Create a Powerful Antagonist: The Epic Villain Breakdown – by Kristen Kieffer
6.) How To Avoid a Protagonist-Centric Villain – by Gillian Bronte Adams
7.) Four Powerful Ways to Revolutionize Female Villains – by Rae Elliott
8.) The Basics of Point of View for Fiction Writers – by Jane Friedman
9.) How To Choose Your Character Names – by NY Book Editors 
10.)  Writing With Color – by Colette, Alice, Jessica, & Lesya (A blog dedicated to writing and resources centered on racial & ethnic diversity. We share writing advice, guides, book recs, and more. The link here takes you to their FAQ page. Read that for what you need, and see their guidelines for asking other questions if you have them.)

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Writing Assignments:

Make sure you do at least one of these three exercises for your antagonist!
1.) Write a letter from your character to you as if the character were an old-fashioned pen pal. The character should introduce himself thoroughly in his own words. This exercise is especially helpful when you have a character who won’t “talk” to you.
2.) Answer the following questions in detail: If your character could go back in time and change one thing about her past, what would it be? What happened? Why would she choose this event? What change would she want to make?
3.) Define how your main character will die, either physically, professionally, or psychologically, if she does not achieve her objective. If you can’t, ask yourself if the objective is truly crucial to her well-being. Find a way to make it so important readers will understand why the objective must be achieved.

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Class Discussion:

1.) Discuss the articles you read. Where there any that were more helpful than others? List 1-2 things you learned that maybe you hadn’t known or thought of before. This is also a good place to reintroduce yourself, if necessary. 

Getting in the Mood:

1.) Write for 15 minutes: Choose a birth date for one or more of your characters. On the Astrology-Zodiac-Signs website, read about your character’s zodiac sign as a way to help round out your character in a fast, easy way. Do any of the zodiac traits match up with your character? Write a paragraph or two describing your character. OR have two of your characters get into an argument over who gets to eat the cookie dough batter from the bowl as the cookies bake in the oven. Make sure they argue according to their zodiac signs and other personality traits you’ve given them. 
2.) Split into smaller groups, if necessary. Each person gets a chance to read their 15 minutes of writing. 
3.) After each person reads, others give feedback: a) What worked? b) What needs more work? Be as specific as you can.

Group Assignments:

1.) Find a partner. Assume the identity of one of your characters and introduce yourself to your partner as that person. Using a character questionnaire, either the one above (“33 Ways to Write Stronger Characters”) or another one such as these two questionnaires listed on the Gotham Writers site, have your partner ask you the questions. Remember to write down any good answers. If you truly don’t know an answer, that’s ok. Skip it and go back to it later. Eventually you’ll want to answer these questions for as many characters as you can. Repeat the exercise with your partner introducing themselves as their character. If time allows, find a new partner and do it all over again with new characters. If you’ve already done this at home, just choose a different character or try to fill in any blanks you may have.