Free writing course: Developing Layered Characters with Michael Donkor


Spread the Word is thrilled that Michael Donkor will be running a free self-led course all about developing characters this Autumn, open to all. 

Developing Layered Characters with Michael Donkor – course overview

We expect so much of the characters we create for our fictional worlds. They’re supposed to have rich inner lives. They’ve got to speak in dialogue that rings with authenticity. It’s imperative they surprise us – but there should be a logic to their behaviour too. 

In this email course, you’ll do a host of liberating exercises that will empower you to meet these challenges and bring multifaceted characters to your narratives.  

Using the words and work of writers like Jackie Kay, Colm Toíbín and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, we’ll think through inventive approaches to character-building. Perhaps we’ll try to reach that mythologised place where characters ‘begin to write themselves’. We’ll consider the importance of writers talking to and with the characters they’re fashioning in order to draw out their complexity. Looking at the relationship between character evolution and plot will be key too. How, we might ask ourselves, can we make sure that characters’ psychologies are rendered in detail without sacrificing pace?  

This is a course open to writers of all abilities, and at all stages of their literary journeys. Over the five weeks, through achievable but testing activities, you’ll craft powerfully vivid and convincing protagonists. 

Email Dates 

This writing course will be delivered via e-mail. It’s self-led and designed for you to complete in your own time.

You’ll receive five emails on the following dates:

Introductory Email – Thursday 13 October 

Course Email 1 – Thursday 20 October 

Course Email 2 – Thursday 27 October 

Course Email 3 – Thursday 3 November 

Course Email 4 – Thursday 10 November 


This course is designed with creativity and accessibility at its heart; it is free to take part in, optimised for screen reading, and includes transcriptions.

If you know someone who would like to take part who doesn’t have a computer or internet access, you can contact us and we can print and post the courses (UK only).

About Michael 

Michael Donkor studied English at Wadham College, Oxford and undertook a Masters in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway. The Observer named him as one of 2018’s best debut authors for his first novel Hold (4th Estate) and in 2019, he was longlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize, shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and selected by Scottish poet laureate Jackie Kay as one of the ten best BAME writers in the UK. He writes and reviews for the Guardian and the TLS, and has appeared on both Radio 3 and 4. This year, he is also a judge for the Betty Trask Prize. 

Subscribe to Michael Donkor’s Developing Layered Characters Course

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Published 13 September 2022