Vivid: Making Characters Come Alive


No matter how hard you try, you’re stuck: your characters on the page remain 2-D and their dialogue just clunks along and drags down the pace of your story.

Have no fear. Vivid can be your answer, whether you write fiction or plays. Let seasoned writer Verena Tay share with you tips on how to make your characters appear like living, breathing 3-D persons that speak naturally. And in no time at all, you will be on your way towards creating vibrant characters that your audience can immediately recognise and appreciate.

By the end of the workshop, you will:

  • Become a more acute observer of the sights and sounds within your environment
  • Improve how you infuse your real life insights about people within your character portrayals
  • Develop more nuanced ways of describing characters and representing speech patterns.

Pre-Workshop Preparation

For Participants

  • Please bring pen/pencil/paper and/or your own laptop/tablet.

For Organisers


  • a quiet, fair-sized room that allows all participants to sit (with writing surfaces), preferably in a large circle or U-shape formation
  • provide sufficient chairs/writing surfaces for all the participants
  • provide whiteboard and whiteboard markers
  • provide pens & paper for participants (if required)
  • make copies of handouts.


Participants' Feedback


What aspects of this workshop benefitted you the most?

"Verena is a great coach and trainer who helps coach one along to a good story. She gives good tools that I will definitely apply to my stories. I intend to rework my stories for better effectiveness."

Sonya David

"Experience & skillful instructor. Interchange with different participants. Insight into literature & life."

Geh Min

"Really liked the focus on status & esteem — new angle to me.
Thank you! I will revisit this often."

Martina Meegenberg

"Aspects of the craft. Character analysis & dialog reminders.
Great class, really helpful!"

Derek Judge

"Realized that you can use dialogue for description, situations, character development, etc.
Very good, interactive."


"I enjoyed the stauts/esteem acting exercise; it helped me get into the heads of the characters in other exercises. The focus on dialogue was interesting as a medium.
I really enjoyed this workshop; the teaching methods were creative and the choice of skills to build were areas of difficulty. So very productive. Yes."

Sarah Rixon

"I enjoyed the activities and thought process about writing dialogue."

Denis Yap

"Through the hands on activities: how the different status/self esteem affects the character. It reminded me to create my characters before jumping in to write my story."


"The character games and creative writing aspects were very well done. I feel like I have a clearer picture of what it takes to develop character."


"The exercises were good — useful & informative."

Lau Mun Ying

"Highlighting key areas for characters. Writing practice beneficial for participants. Verena allows participants to interact by activities that get them to move about acting out the characters. Superb!"

Clara Mok

"How a person's dialogue reflecrs his or her self-esteem & social status (be it in a subtle of obvious way)."

Shirley Ting

"To have understood my own creative ability better.
The trainer Verena is using very unusual techniques to bring out the creativity of students. I like it."

Maggie Shen

"The thought process into writing a dialogue."


"Games were enriching & strongly brough the point across."

Koon Si Mink

About the Facilitator

A Singaporean writer, editor, storyteller and theatre practitioner, Verena Tay has published a short story collection, Spectre: Stories from Dark to Light (2012), and three play collections, and edited various fiction anthologies, including the bestselling Balik Kampung series of short stories published by Math Paper Press. She possesses three Masters: English Literature (National University of Singapore, 1993); Voice Studies (Central School of Speech and Drama, London, 2005); and Creative Writing (City University of Hong Kong, 2015). Since 2005, she has been helping people to improve their communication skills and has taught voice, speech and presentation skills, storytelling and creative writing.