In this generative fiction workshop, we’ll discuss how to craft memorable, resonant characters. We’ll tackle accessible basics that can help us get started (Margot Livesey once said she needed to know a character’s eye color before she truly begins) and discuss the meatier, more challenging elements that might only emerge a little later in the writing process, such as complicated relationships, inner conflicts, competing loyalties, core needs and desires, and what happens when core needs are not being met. We’ll consider Elizabeth George’s approach, as described in her craft book Write Away, and also talk about our own entry-points to character—how we can develop our own processes for writing characters only we can write.
Through a variety of prompts, including collaborative ones, students will have the opportunity to create new characters as well as develop characters already in-progress. Students should come to class ready to discuss Jamel Brinkley’s “Witness.” A PDF of the story will be provided in advance. Students will leave class with a range of tools for developing characters that readers will think about long after reading.