Description of Class
In order to write stories that generate narrative tension and compel readers to keep turning the page, writers need to create characters with flaws that threaten to upend the status quo in their fictional worlds. The flaw is almost always where the story is found.
Another way of thinking about this: who wants to read a story about a character who never achieves any kind of self-knowledge or encounters resistance?
In this four-week, online fiction class, we’ll look at short stories by contemporary writers who are masters at portraying desperate characters. Students will also have the chance to submit pages for workshop discussion.
Week 1: Tools for characterization: writing exercise from What If? “Oh, That Kind of Person.” Assigned readings by Bonnie Jo Campbell and Matthew Klam
Week 2: More tools for characterization, writing exercise: Decisions, decisions. Excerpt from Steve Almond’s craft book,This Won’t Take But a Minute, Honey. Assigned reading by Mary Gaitskill
Week 3: Synergy: main and supporting characters. Dialogue-related writing exercise. Assigned readings by Edward P. Jones and Lily Tuck
Week 4: Keep going: writing exercise from What If? “How to Develop and Finish Stories” Assigned readings by Dana Johnson and Karin Lin-Greenberg
Readings and writing exercises will be the focus of each week’s class. Some time will also be allotted to workshop critiques and discussions related to the readings.Top