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Creating real characters

Award-winning novelist Lucy Atkins explains the importance of crafting believable characters and offers advice on how to bring them to life

How to write a novel


One of the things that nobody tells you about becoming a published writer is that it is terrifying to release your finished work on the world and wait for people to tell you, often in no uncertain terms, what they think of it. I’ve recently published my third novel, The Night Visitor, and many reader responses have been intensely focused on one character: Vivian, a 60-year-old housekeeper and beetle enthusiast. Vivian is a complex and odd person, who is socially awkward, obsessive, extremely clever, misanthropic and needy. Readers are divided: some find her unsettling, others feel she’s downright terrifying and a few are protective, saying she is misunderstood, vulnerable and lonely. Above all – and this makes me very happy indeed – readers are reacting. Vivian, it seems, has hit a nerve.

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The latest issue of Psychologies is now available to download. Featuring: Reinvent your life with Yoga, Grown-up gap year, Face-reading, Free online coaching plus much more
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