Craft Believable and Compelling Characters with Tiffany Yates Martin

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Develop characters that will invest readers in your story from beginning to end

It’s easy to assume that if your story has an interesting enough setup and plot, readers will automatically be invested. But no matter how spectacular the journey you promise them, readers don’t deeply care what’s happening unless they care who it’s happening to. Your characters must be real, three-dimensional people who interest and invest readers.

That doesn’t mean your protagonists have to be likable or relatable—although that’s one excellent way to make us want to take that journey with them. But characters do need to be fully formed so that they feel believable and multi-faceted, as well as engaging from the very beginning of your story. They also need to change in some way—to arrive at the end of the story different from the person they were at the beginning, as a result of that journey.

It’s not enough to give your protagonist some quirks and foibles and plug them into the plot. To really bring your characters to life it’s crucial to consider three key elements:

  • Who they are
  • Who they were
  • Who they are becoming

In a live, 75-minute class on June 2, career developmental editor Tiffany Yates Martin will show you specific ways to invest readers in your main characters and keep them engaged in their journey, with examples and specifics from published books.

Authors will learn:

  • What makes a character “likable”—and what can make readers invest in your characters even if they aren’t
  • How to start showing character from page one to hook readers
  • How to “mine backward” to add facets and depth to your characters and their motivations and goals, and how to determine what backstory is essential for the story you’re telling
  • Ways to reveal character—based on what they show others, what they don’t, and what they may hide even from themselves
  • Why clarity and specificity are the key to compelling characters
  • Various techniques for weaving in context and developing character: e.g., show, tell, frame of reference, word choice, dialogue, non-verbals
  • Defining your characters’ arc and letting it serve as the spine of the story
  • Why character agency is essential in any story, and how to make sure your protagonist(s) are the engine of their own destiny

Who should take this class

  • Fiction writers in all genres
  • Beginning to intermediate novelists
  • Authors of memoir and narrative nonfiction works where “character” is the real-life subject (so the same techniques and theories apply)

How do I know if this webinar is worth the cost?

This is an important question, and it’s a tough one to answer—especially since so much online education is available free of charge. Furthermore, every student is different, and a valuable webinar for one person can end up being a disappointment to another. For this reason, we offer full refunds if you register, attend the entire class, and fail to get the information you were looking for. Please email us directly to request a refund.

Do I have to attend the live class?

No. Everyone who registers will get access to the recording. However, if you’d like to attend live, keep reading.

How do I attend the live class?

This class uses Zoom webinar technology. You will join through your Internet-connected computer or mobile device. When you register, you will receive information via email on how to join the class. If you don’t receive it within 1 hour of registering, please contact us.

  • When: Wednesday, June 2, 2021
  • Time: 1 p.m.–2:15 p.m. Eastern Time / 10 a.m. Pacific Time
  • Fee: $25

The webinar is broadcasted via the internet with live audio delivered through your computer or mobile device speakers. The visual presentation is displayed directly from the presenter’s computer to your computer screen. The Q&A is managed through a chat-style submission system with questions read and answered by the presenter for the entire class to hear.

Closed captions are provided for the live class and video recording. We use Zoom’s built-in closed caption service, powered by Otter AI, which is about 80%+ accurate.

Tiffany Yates Martin

About the instructor

Tiffany Yates Martin has spent nearly thirty years as an editor in the publishing industry, working with major publishers and NY Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling, award-winning authors as well as indie and newer writers, and is the author of the Amazon bestseller Intuitive Editing: A Creative and Practical Guide to Revising Your Writing. She’s led workshops and seminars for conferences and writers’ groups across the country and is a frequent contributor to writers’ sites and publications. Under the pen name Phoebe Fox, she’s the author of the Breakup Doctor series and her most recent release, A Little Bit of Grace (August 2020, Berkley). Learn more at her website.

You did an excellent job, as usual. Full of information and engaging! I’m re-energized for tackling issues with my work-in-progress.

Lisa Malice

Events Coordinator, Sisters In Crime

A thousand thank-yous. I have taken many writing classes and I must tell you, this has been one of the best writing experiences I have ever had. I know I will refer to the notes I’ve taken for every novel I write in the future!

Nancy B.


Hands-down best course I’ve taken. Thank you.

Marian Palaia


You’ll receive the following

  • Access to the 75-minute interactive class. After ~60 minutes, Tiffany will take questions using in-class chat/text. The class will end after roughly 75 minutes.
  • A recording of the class—audio and video. This is especially helpful if you have a conflict with the class time or something comes up and you can’t make the session. Each registration comes with access to the archived version of the program and the materials for 30 days. You do not have to attend the live event to get a recording of the presentation.
  • Presentation slides. All participants receive a copy of the slide presentation in PDF form.
  • Rough transcript. We use Otter to create an automated transcript of the entire webinar, which we’ll share with you in addition to the audio and video recording.
  • Supplementary handout. You’ll receive a character ‘Mad Libs’-style exercise to help determine the core of character—which can often serve as the basis of an elevator pitch or back cover copy.

Event Attendance & Anti-Harassment Policy

We strive to provide an environment where all present—whether attendee, presenter, or staff—can feel supported. In order to ensure a welcoming event, here is what we expect from all who participate.

  • That the presenter and the presenter’s work be treated with respect by attendees and that all attendees treat each other with respect and a generosity of spirit.
  • That attendees will refrain from harassment of any sort including (but not limited to) comments or questions of a racist, homophobic, sexist/sexual, or threatening nature. This includes actions that disrupt or interfere with anyone’s ability to participate. Offenders will be disconnected from the live event.

System Requirements to Join the Webinar

We will be using Zoom webinar technology.

You’ll need:

  • An internet connection: broadband wired or wireless (3G or 4G/LTE)
  • Speakers: built-in or USB plug-in or wireless Bluetooth

Recommended bandwidth:

  • 600kbps (down) for high-quality video and 1.2 Mbps (down) for HD video
  • If you connect through audio only: 60-80kbps (down)

Supported operating systems:

Supported tablet and mobile devices:

  • Surface PRO 2 running Win 8.1
  • iOS and Android devices
  • Blackberry devices

Supported browsers:

  • Windows: IE 11+,  Edge 12+, Firefox 27+,  Chrome 30+
  • Mac: Safari 7+, Firefox 27+,  Chrome 30+
  • Linux: Firefox 27+,  Chrome 30+

For a detailed listing of system requirements, check Zoom’s site.