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“Everybody loves heroic characters, those avatars of virtue who can do no wrong as they smile through perfect teeth and find solutions to every problem via indomitable spirit and/or iron will,” says instructor Jeff Chon. “But what is it that makes Sherlock Holmes, often seen as insufferably arrogant, compelling? What makes the ‘whiny brat’ Holden Caulfield or the ‘hateful and cruel’ Heathcliff such enduring characters? How do authors turn absolute monsters such as Humbert Humbert or Amy Dunne from Gone Girl into compelling reads?”
The characteristics we see as flaws are quite often what drive a story. It is frequently the people, and not the situations, that create high stakes. In this 3-week course, we will do character building through in-class writing exercises and optional-out-of-class assignments, and explore how those characters behave in scenes: what they hate about themselves, and what others hate in them. Our prompt-driven work and facilitated discussions will help us come to a deeper understanding of the character qualities which deepen conflict and drive drama.
For guidance with our own writing, we will read and discuss short pieces about craft and short stories about seemingly unsympathetic characters. Through close reading, we will learn to find those points where characters reveal who they are, while diagnosing the why’s of who they are. By the end of this course, writers will have the necessary tools to populate their worlds with three-dimensional characters readers may not like, but won’t be able to ignore.
About The Writing Salon's Online Zoom Classes
You will be able to participate in live class meetings via Zoom videoconference. To attend classes, you'll need a phone, tablet or computer and access to the internet. You can participate in the class from wherever you'd like, whether on your living room couch or in your office. Before your class meets, you'll receive an email from The Writing Salon with more information about Zoom and your remote class. If you have any questions about remote learning, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeff Chon is the author of the novel Hashtag Good Guy with a Gun, which New York Magazine called “sick and nasty and funny until page 247, which is the last one,” and praised in The New York Times, The Irish Times, The Scotland Herald, and The Times of London. His stories and essays have appeared in The Seneca Review, The North American Review, Barrelhouse, Best Small Fictions 2021, and many others. This Is the Afterlife, his short story collection, will be available in December of 2022.
- Live Zoom Meeting: Thursday, August 17, 6:30pm-9:00pm
- Live Zoom Meeting: Thursday, August 24, 6:30pm-9:00pm
- Live Zoom Meeting: Thursday, August 31, 6:30pm-9:00pm
Jeff is terrific. He's very insightful and stimulating.