A Compelling Character – Writing Workshop (Online)

About the course

Whether we’re writing poetry, prose or memoir, how can we make our work authentic and characterful? This workshop takes examples of contemporary writers across genres, including those using poetry and hybrid forms, and examining how they create characters that readers believe in.

We’ll practice becoming close observers and literary magpies, taking pointers from contemporary methods to build multi-layered, original actors. We’ll experiment with reshaping methods to suit your style, genre, and subject and talk about the moment when a character takes on a life of their own.

Experimenting with a range of writing exercises the workshop focuses on how to observe with a writer’s eye, reimagining people, and their situations to invent characters that are new, compelling, and all your own.

Who is it for?

This workshop is for all underrepresented writers – creatives who face barriers to opportunities due to mental health issues, physical health/disability, sensory impairment, learning disabilities, neurodivergence, substance misuse, survivors, working-class backgrounds, and those from the LGBTQIA+ community, Black, Asian, traveller, mixed heritage or other global majority backgrounds.

This session is for all writers, new or seasoned, whether you’re working on fiction, non-fiction, plays, essays, theses or poetry. 

About the tutor

Karen Downs-Barton is a working-class, neurodiverse writer. She is a creative writing doctoral candidate and poetry tutor at King’s College, London where her thesis explores identity formation through experimental and multilingual poetics. Her first pamphlet, Didicoy, won the 2022 International Book and Pamphlet Competition, was published in March 2023 by Smith|Doorstop and is the Poetry Book Society recommendation for 2023. Her first full collection has just been acquired by Chatto and Windus and is due to be published in 2024. This year Karen has been placed in the AUB poetry prize 2023, and is forthcoming is the winners Anthology ‘Chance’ and she was shortlisted in the MSLEXIA Poison Competition. Karen has run workshops for Shakespeare and Race at The Globe Theatre (2023), was the Silver Award winner in the Creative Future Competition (2022), and winner of the Cosmo Davenport-Hines poetry competition (2021). Her writing has been translated into Russian, Spanish and Farsi and is widely anthologised. Karen’s poetry can be viewed in Wagtail: The Romani Women’s Anthology; The North; Rattle; Ink, Sweat and Tears; Tears in the Fence; Night Picnic Journal; The High Window; Alyss; The Otolith; The Fem Review; Riggwelter; The Goose; The Curly Mind; Persian Sugar in English Tea; amongst others.


Monday 22 January


6.30pm – 8pm


£10 standard / £5 concessions

In order to make our resources stretch further, we have to subsidise some workshops with nominal fees well below most online courses. The more people who book at full price, the more we’ll be able to offer. Half-price places are available for those on benefits, unemployed/underemployed or on low wages. We do not ask for proof that you qualify. We have limited concessionary spaces available and can’t unfortunately offer additional ones. If concessionary spaces aren’t displayed below, they are fully booked, but we can add you to the waiting list if you e-mail [email protected].


Online via Zoom.

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