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By Brenda Liddy


Dr Brenda Liddy, BA, MA, PHD, PGCE FE, is an English lecturer in the Northern Regional College, Coleraine and also teaches creative writing in her local community and in the Open Learning Programme at Queen's. She is a published author of both academic books and memoir. She also facilitates Shared Reading groups in her local library. She lives in North Belfast.

Course Aims and Learning Outcomes

Summary of Content and Form

Creating Convincing Character in Short Story Writing

  • How to create a convincing character
  • How to show how your character resolves a dilemma
  • How to show how your main character develops in the course of the story.

The course will focus on creating believable characters. Students will be given a synopsis of James Joyce’s short story, ‘Eveline’ from The Dubliners where the main character Eveline is faced with a very difficult choice. Should she be a dutiful daughter and stay at home and look after her father, a widower or should she leave Dublin and move to Buenos Aries with her lover, Frank.

The students would be asked to reflect on the way Joyce presents us with a convincing character, facing a dilemma and in the end not able to take the leap of faith by accepting Frank’s invitation to leave and start a new life.

Students will be encouraged to think of a character who might be facing a Catch-22 situation. How did the character get into this situation and how is he or she going to resolve their conflict? Does the character grow and develop in the story? Is the character’s dilemma part of a wider consciousness of feeling stuck in a rut? James Joyce felt that Ireland was in a state of paralysis and unable to move forward from the Celtic twilight.

Learning outcomes

  • Students will learn how to create convincing characters.
  • Students will learn the importance of creating a dilemma for their main character which they must resolve by the end of the story.
  • Students will learn the basics of narrative arc and character arc.

View the Creative Writing Videos

Please watch the first presentation, Creating Character and try out the Linda Anderson exercise of choosing ten random items and creating a character from them. 

Then watch 2. Creating Convincing Characters, 3. Creating Character, Show Don't Tell, 4. What is Character? 5. Lessons from James Scott Bell, and 6. Catch 22. This will help you to gain a knowledge of the fundamental techniques that underpin creating character in short story writing. 

Section 1

Creating Character in the Short Story

Section 2

Creating Convincing Characters

Section 3

Creating Character, Show Don't Tell

Section 4

What is Character?

Section 5

Lessons from James Scott Bell

Section 6

Catch 22