Building believable characters | Paula Roe

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When you look at popular fiction at its most basic form, they’re all stories about characters doing things. Going on an emotional journey. Getting and not getting what they want. Losing people. Finding love. Reaching rock bottom. Overcoming adversity and challenges and roadblocks and finally triumphing. It’s about catching the villain, falling in love, finding a soul mate, saving the world, battling the evil guys, finding peace and belonging, good winning over evil. And when your character/s win their soulmate / return victorious from battle / saves the world / catch the killer, they return from that journey with a lesson, a trophy, a treasure that enriches and improves their life. In a romance, the stories are ultimately uplifting and satisfying, stories that ‘right the wrongs’ in life, giving you hope, positive vibes, the warm and fuzzies. No hero or heroine dying in the last chapter, thank you!

Your characters drive your plot. Think about it – if they don’t do things and make choices, there would be no story. Do they have to be believable? Yes, and no. A reader may not agree with a villain’s choices, for example, but they should understand the motivation and drive. 

I love creating stories: fleshing out a plot and writing dialogue are two of my favourite things. But more than that, I love, love, love building characters. I love working out their goal, motivations and conflict, the complexities of how their minds work and what their fatal flaw is. I’ve been told my characters are multi-faceted, complex and believable and I think it’s because a) I love creating them! and b) I spend a lot of pre-writing time building them up to be as believable and real in my mind as they can be. In Building Believable Characters, we will do a deep dive into all things character-driven, their GMC and everything else that makes up their unique character universe. There will be lots of hands-on writing so you can form the framework to build your own believable characters.

And now a pop quiz. Can you name your favourite characters without mentioning the book/movie/story? Here’s a few of mine:

Corbin Dallas

Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji

Riley Jensen

Tyrion Lannister 

Joan Wilder and Jack Colton

Kiera Cameron 

Eve Dallas and Roarke

River Song

Let me know yours in the comments!

Course Dates: July 4th—31st

Cost: $55 members; $66 non-members

Venue: Online – RWA Moodle Platform

For more information and bookings:

Presenter Bio

Author and Presenter Paula Roe

Paula Roe is an experienced presenter and has been writing and delivering workshops, tutorials and talks for RWA, ARRA, community colleges, libraries, and writing groups for over 20 years. A former office manager, workplace trainer and fitness instructor, she has been extensively involved in RWA since its inception – as Secretary, Contest Co-ordinator, Conference Co-ordinator, contest judge, Vice President and as RWA’s longest-running Hearts Talk editor. She has received RWA’s prestigious Lynne Wilding Award, is a RBY finalist and double-ARRA winner. She’s a recovering contest addict, published nine novels with Harlequin, released a non-fiction historical biography under her alternative writing persona, has a Diploma in Graphic Design and is the owner of The Wordable Writer, a resource for writers. She frequently juggles lots of spinning plates. Her website is at

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