“Too often we think of the secondary character as inconsequential, there to meet a plot need," says instructor Lori Ostlund. "When I write a secondary character, I want the reader to feel that they would be happy to follow that character home from the scene instead of the main character.”
Secondary characters can be the key to adding surprise, depth, and tension to scenes and the work overall, though not if we writers are unwilling to see them as characters in their own right. In this class, we will talk about ways to build more interesting secondary characters, study common relationship types, and do exercises aimed at creating more dynamic interactions between characters by thinking from the perspective of the secondary character.
In addition to looking at examples from novels and short stories, we will focus on writing exercises aimed at developing secondary characters with an emphasis on dialogue and actions that create tension and surprise and that nudge other characters into conflict, revelation, and action. We will workshop these exercises in class.
Lori says, “My goal is for students to leave the class with a new way of thinking about secondary characters, both as a means of jumpstarting revision on old projects and approaching new projects from a different angle.”
Lori Ostlund’s novel After the Parade (Scribner, 2015) was shortlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, was a finalist for the 2016 Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction and the Northern California Book Award for Fiction, and was a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers pick. Her first book, a story collection entitled The Bigness of the World, won the 2008 Flannery O’Connor Award, the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award, and the 2009 California Book Award for First Fiction. Stories from it appeared in the Best American Short Stories and the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories. Scribner reissued the collection in early 2016. Lori received the 2009 Rona Jaffe Foundation Award and a fellowship to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Most recently, her work has appeared in ZYZZYVA, The Southern Review, and the Kenyon Review.
- Sunday, February 16, 10:30am-1:00pm
- Sunday, February 23, 10:30am-1:00pm
- Sunday, March 01, 10:30am-1:00pm
- Sunday, March 08, 10:30am-1:00pm
- Sunday, March 15, 10:30am-1:00pm
Lori is a great teacher, and came with a plan. She was kind and patient, and steered/started conversations in a tactful way. She skillfully led discussions of the samples we read. When it came to critiquing our own work, any comments were couched in constructive language, and she set the tone for critiques.
She was much more accessible than other teachers I have had in the past. She even went so far as to think further about questions she had already answered in class, and e-mail her thoughts to us later.
Lori Ostlund has an incredibly deep understanding of how fiction works. The lecture portion gives me useful tools, the prompts get me writing, and the workshop feedback gives me actionable next steps for my writing. It was the ideal mix of lecture, exercises, and feedback.
I've loved every class I've taken from Lori Ostlund. I would enroll in any new class that she offered in the future.
Lori is an excellent instructor: insightful, thoughtful, and engaging. The balance between lecture and workshop felt appropriate and gave structure to a fairly large class. Amazing! Lori has a very approachable teaching style while still providing structure and encouraging growth. I think I got exactly the push I needed to dive deeper into my scene work. I greatly appreciated the chance to receive and provide feedback.