Basic Info
  • Fiction
  • Novel
  • Short Story

How does one create a character? And more to the point, how does one create a character who is so interesting that a reader will want to spend an entire story or novel with him? In this course, which welcomes fiction writers of all levels, we will examine how to create complex and compelling characters. We will spend part of our time discussing how to build characters in the first place—how, from the get-go, to make them as credible and distinct as we can. But most of our time will be spent doing exercises that help you explore the many facets of your characters, which is to say, what makes them absorbing and fully human. You will get to know your characters within a range of physical settings, time periods, and dramatic situations. You will gain insight into what motivates your characters and in what ways your characters are capable of change. Along the way, you will discover many of your strengths as an imaginative writer as well as some of your blind spots. By the end of the weekend, you will better appreciate the dimensions (and mysteries) of your characters as well as have a fresh understanding of how those characters can be woven into stories.

Jonathan Blum


Jonathan Blum grew up in Miami and graduated from UCLA and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He is the author of Last Word, a novella, which was named one of the best books of 2013 by Iowa Public Radio and was featured on KCRW’s Bookworm with host Michael Silverblatt. His short stories have appeared in Carolina Quarterly, Gulf Coast, Playboy, Sonora Review, and elsewhere. He has taught fiction writing at Drew University and The University of Iowa. He received a 2016 Hawthornden fellowship in Scotland and was a guest writer at the 2016 Tianjin Binhai New Area International Writing Program in China. He is also the recipient of a Michener-Copernicus Society of America Award and a grant from the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation. This is his seventh year teaching at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. He lives in Los Angeles, where he teaches fiction writing workshops. He can be found online at