God doesn’t create flat stereotypes.

Neither should you.


The Authentic Characters Summit was the best online conference I’ve ever attended. The intense focus on character development has forever impacted the way I craft my stories.

Crystal Caudill

 I’ve never before gained such an in-depth understanding of the different facets of creating an authentic character.

K.M. Small

Characters Aren’t Meant to Be Caricatures

God created human beings who are radically complex.

But writers often apply bland stereotypes to their characters without realizing it!

We all know how unrealistic characters can make us want to stop reading a book.

This summit will teach you to craft characters at a level of depth that will surprise and enthrall readers.


Unit One: How to Develop Realistic Characters on a Personal Level

How to Create Distinct, Immersive Character Voices with Janeen Ippolito

For agents and readers alike, voice is everything. But how can you make sure your characters sound unique and genuine? In this session, Janeen Ippolito, the president of Uncommon Universes Press, draws from her experience with coaching, writing, and even acting to teach you how to craft memorable narration and dialogue.

Character Development Isn’t Just for Plotters with Rolena Hatfield 

Most writing advice is geared toward plotters. But do pantsers have to change who they are to write a cohesive story? Listen as Rolena Hatfield, the former outreach manager at Story Embers, encourages you to explore and embrace your strengths as a pantser to create extraordinary characters—without limiting your imagination.

How to Honestly Depict People of Other Times & Cultures with Sarah Sundin 

Homogeneous characters aren’t an accurate representation of reality. The setting and era a person lives in influences how he talks, thinks, and acts—and writers need to be familiar with these differences. Learn how to thoroughly research and artfully convey human diversity from award-winning, best-selling historical fiction author Sarah Sundin.

Unit Two: How to Develop Realistic Characters on a Relational Level

Keep Readers Turning Pages with Riveting Relationships with Daeus Lamb 

Relationships define our lives. And the dynamics between characters strengthen a story’s plot and themes. Tune in as Daeus Lamb, the outreach & community director at Story Embers and author of God of Manna, describes how to captivate readers with relationships that are messy and endearing.

Characters Need Relationships with Readers Too with Josiah DeGraaf 

Exceptional stories—whether written in a book or shared during a conversation—engage and influence the audience’s emotions. But how do you help readers form a bond with your characters? Josiah DeGraaf, the summit & marketing director at Story Embers, spends this session explaining various methods for achieving maximum emotional impact.

Panel Discussion on Characters

A good conference isn’t complete without the opportunity to hear experienced writers share their thoughts on a particular subject. Unit two will conclude with Story Embers staff members Daeus Lamb, Rolena Hatfield, Gabrielle Pollack, and Brandon Miller getting together to respond to audience questions about crafting authentic characters.

Unit Three: How to Develop Realistic Characters on a Moral Level

How to Tie Authentic Characters into Your Story’s Theme with Josiah DeGraaf 

Powerful themes and messages are important—but not if they come at the expense of characters. Thankfully, they don’t have to. Josiah DeGraaf, the summit & marketing director at Story Embers, demonstrates how to use the concept of foils to make your characters realistic and thematically relevant.

How to Write Highly Immoral Characters without Repulsing Readers with Brandilyn Collins 

When you decide to write about a corrupt POV character, are you risking losing all your readers? How can you realistically yet tastefully describe his thoughts and actions? Brandilyn Collins, author of 30+ books in the Christian market, shows you how to write sinful characters wisely and engagingly.


How to Depict a Character’s Decision-Making Process with Paul Regnier 

To portray the moral side of characters, you need to reveal the rationale behind their choices. How do you realistically write scenes where a character wrestles over a course of action or problem? Paul Regnier uses his experience from writing conflicted characters in his sci-fi novels to teach you how to rawly depict inward struggles.

Closing Keynote: The Wildness of Creating with God with Allen Arnold 

What does it look like to pursue story actively and intimately with God rather than just writing for God? In this fast-paced finale from Allen Arnold, author of The Story of With, discover why God infused you with a love of story, how to write fiction that’s true, ways to thrive in today’s chaotic publishing world, and the freedom of creating from a place of success rather than chasing after it. 

Whether taught by well-known professionals in the CBA or Story Embers’ young, enthusiastic, and talented staff, each session presented invaluable information that all writers can benefit from. Highly recommended!

Dawn Shipman

The Authentic Characters Summit was one of the best writing experiences of my life. Not only was the advice super helpful, but it made me feel more motivated and equipped to write well.

Jess Dinning

What’s Unique about the Authentic Characters Summit?


Focused Topic

Every session aims at one goal: equipping you to write realistic characters. Together, the sessions build a comprehensive course on the subject.

Ease of Access

No travel necessary! All sessions are online so you can stream them from the comfort of your living room.

A Step-by-Step Playbook

We’ve taken notes for you so you can immediately condense and apply our speakers’ advice to your current work-in-progress.

Flexible Times

You gain access to the sessions forever! Go through them at your own pace and learn more effective storytelling practices.

BONUS: Our Session Notes on How to Create Authentic Characters

We’ve condensed our notes on what our summit speakers taught to provide you with a roadmap to better portray human beings in your stories.

The full meat of the talks is, of course, contained in the recordings. But our playbook highlights the key points of the sessions and shows you how you can use those techniques to craft characters deep enough to surprise and enthrall readers.

All writers who purchase the recordings will receive a complimentary copy of our Authentic Characters Summit playbook to help them apply what they’ve learned to their current works-in-progress.

God Didn’t Create Flat Stereotypes

When God made humans in His image, He formed sagas that could walk and talk with Him.

Nothing in creation beats human complexity.

But we hardly even understand our own hearts, let alone those of our uncooperative characters!

At this summit, award-winning authors, speakers, and writing teachers came together to tackle this challenge.

With approximately 10 hours of video training, the Authentic Characters Summit will teach you the greatest art in all of writing: depicting the human soul.

You can write characters so real they leap off the page.

You can present characters in all their beauty and depravity so that readers leave with a clearer sense of what it means to be human.

You just need to learn the right skills to accomplish the task.

The Authentic Characters Summit Recordings


10+ Hours of Teaching Content

Playbook to Help You Apply the Lessons

Lifetime Access to the Recordings


Questions? Email josiah@storyembers.org!

What Attendees Said about the Summit

For a long time, I have struggled with developing unique and realistic characters. Now I’m equipped to create and portray characters who mirror humanity to glorify God.

Lydia Williams

What I’ve learned here will have a huge impact on my writing.

Amy Ullrich

The summit was professional yet fun. I learned so much from all the different presenters and have a full notepad of notes to prove it!

Gina Holder

Not only did the summit give me a lot of great tips and techniques for writing authentic characters, but it also helped develop my character and refocused my attention on the things that matter most. 

Michael Stanton

I’ve never attended a writing event that had such a strong Christian focus like this, and that was so refreshing and inspiring. All the sessions I attended gave me actionable steps to create deeper, more authentic characters to connect with readers.

Jenna Terese

What would you miss if you skip the Authentic Characters Summit?

Top Writers and Speakers

Our summit features several award-winning writers and speakers coming to your living room at an affordable price.

Advanced Learning

We’ve designed this summit as the ultimate resource for learning to craft gripping, authentic characters. The sessions explore advanced topics at a depth you won’t easily find elsewhere.

A Roadmap for Authentic Characters

This summit is all about giving you the practical, step-by-step help you need to write characters who leap off the page.

“We resolve to craft characters who remain true to how flawed human beings live and act, affirming that Christian storytellers have the freedom to portray the full human experience in all its beauty and depravity, not to glorify or endorse sin but to accurately reveal the brokenness of the world.”

– Christian Storytellers Manifesto

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Learn What the Bible Says about Engaging Plots

Learn What the Bible Says about Engaging Plots

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