At the center of a good story are the characters in it. In this course aspiring writers will discover how to build and bring to life complex, vivid and unforgettable characters. We will study the choices a writer makes to bring all characters to life on the page, and we will perform written exercises in order to develop a variety of writing and pre-writing techniques, in order to create a variety of characters. We will learn how to use our own life experiences, and the people we know (and how not to!). We will develop inner (thoughts and feelings) and outer (appearance, habits, behavior) lives for our characters and see how that can lead us to richer and more interesting stories. We will breathe life into our characters and let them surprise us.
- Week 1 - Discovering Characters from Your Life and Elsewhere
What happens in the writer's mind before any words are written on the paper? Characters then reveal themselves through conflict and drama. Without conflict there is no purpose to the story. We then discuss desire. Human beings want things, even when we don't r...
- Week 2 - Creating Characters on the Page
Here, we delve deeper into the characters. What is their physical description, and how can we describe them through action? How do they speak? What makes me want to read about them? When your characters need help or understanding, or even rescuing, this draws ...
- Week 3 - Dialogue and Monologue
How do we lead a reader to a world that feels real? Narrators have an attitude, towards subjects and audience, about the world and its events. We discuss in this module considerations involved in planning for these realities, including the differences between ...
- Week 4 - Set Your Characters Free.. and Give Them Somewhere to Go
In this module, we reflect on how our readers learn about our characters - and how we as writers do, as well. We ask questions about who is telling the story, why, and with what goal. We conclude the course with a conversation about the narrator and, distinctl...
Distinguished University Writer in Residence and Director of the Shapiro Center for Creative Writing