Episode 99: Create Compelling Characters – Interview with Susan Breen

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

Hey there Word Nerds! I’m so excited to share this week’s DIY MFA Radio episode with you.

But first, some news. OMG word nerds, our next episode will be number 100 and I have something really exciting planned so make sure to watch your iTunes for that release. That episode will kick-off our weeklong Storytelling Superpower video series designed to help you figure out what stories and what characters you’re BEST at writing.

To access the video series and download our cheat sheet describing all the Storytelling Superpower archetypes, sign up with your email at DIYMFA.com/STSPvideo. and get all those materials. You an also take Storytelling Superpower QUIZ to discover your unique superpower as a writer.

Now onto today’s episode.

Today I’m delighted to interview Susan Breen. In addition to being the author of the new Maggie Dove mystery series, Susan is also a wonderful writing teacher and one of my very first mentors. Many listeners have heard me tell the story about how I took a horrendous writing workshop in college. By the end of that semester I was so shaken to my core that I did touch pen to page for seven (yes, seven!) years. Susan was the wonderful teacher who coaxed me back in to writing, and she’s very likely the one responsible for my wanting to be a writing teacher myself.

In this episode, Susan and I talk about one of my favorite writing topics: how to craft compelling characters. Listen to the audio below.

In this episode Susan and I discuss:

  • Where characters come from.
  • Navigating stereotypes while writing characters.
  • Character flaws as character development
  • Making sure your characters think and using description to convey emotion
  • Naming characters

Plus, Susan’s #1 tip for writers.


About Susan Breen:

Susan Breen is the author of a new mystery series about Maggie Dove, a Sunday School teacher turned detective. The first book of this series–titled Maggie Dove–came out yesterday and the second will be out on October 4, 2016

Susan also teaches creative writing at Gotham Writers in Manhattan, where I took my very first writing class post-college. Her first book, The Fiction Class, was published by Penguin in 2008 and it’s a fabulous read. She’s also published stories and articles in places like Best American Non-Required Reading, ComposeJournal.com, and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Mother of three children who are now grown up and flourishing, Susan lives with her husband, two dogs and one cat in the Hudson Valley.

To learn more about Susan, you can visit her website, or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or Goodreads.

Link to Episode 99

(Right-click to download.)


If you liked this episode…

Head over to iTunes, leave a review, and subscribe so you’ll be first to know when new episodes are available. Also, if you know anyone who might enjoy this podcast, please share!

Until next week, keep writing and keep being awesome.


Enjoyed this article?