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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > March 2016 > Short story masterclass: Character study

Short story masterclass: Character study

Improve your characterisation by learning from the greats, with classic short stories highlighted by Helen M Walters

Whatever sort of fiction you are writing, well-drawn characters are crucial. In a novel you have plenty of time and space to dig deep and really explore your characters, but how can you make characters seem equally authentic when you only have the limited word count of a short story?

I’ve selected three classic short stories for this character masterclass and they all have something different to teach us about how to create great characters, who will spring off the page and remain in the reader’s mind, within the constraints of a short story. The stories are – The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty by James Thurber, Mary Postgate by Rudyard Kipling, and Parson’s Pleasure by Roald Dahl. As usual I urge you to read the stories for yourself (see right) in order to get the best out of the learning experience: spoilers ahead.

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Slow down! Why word counts and targets aren't always good for your writing Synopsis secrets: The single page that will sell your book Top tips for every genre:- • Crime: Perfect pacemaking • Five ways to grow creatively as a children's author • Explore the new trend for genre-blending fantasy Masterclass: Study the style and stories of Henry Fielding, James Thurber, Rudyard Kipling and Roald Dahl Star interview: Anne O'Brien, the challenger to Philippa Gregory's crown WIN! A PC worth £600

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