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EGL 12 W — Creating a Compelling Cast of Characters

Quarter: Winter
Course Format: Online (System Requirements)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 14—Mar 22
Drop Deadline: Jan 17
Units: 3
Tuition: $895
Instructor(s): Martha Conway
Limit: 17
Status: Closed
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is January 17 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is January 22 at 5:00 pm (PT).
Winter
Date(s)
Jan 14—Mar 22
10 weeks
Drop By
Jan 17
3 Units
Fees
$895
Instructor(s):
Martha Conway
Limit
17
Closed
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is January 17 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is January 22 at 5:00 pm (PT).
Great characters stay with readers long after their stories end. But why do some characters engage our interest more than others? And how can we make our own characters more compelling? This course is designed to help fiction writers (both new and experienced) to develop engaging, authentic characters that will propel a story forward. In the first half of the course, we will use simple exercises to develop unique characters, explore their relationships to each other, and launch their story. We will read excerpts from The Anatomy of Story by John Truby to study the craft of creating great characters, and we will read Euphoria by Lily King to examine craft in action: how one author advances her plot through her characters’ wants and needs. In the second half of the course, we will write opening chapters or story scenes with the characters we have developed. Students will submit 750–1,000 words of new writing each week and work in small groups. By the end of the course, each student will have developed complex primary and secondary characters, will have written the first three chapters of a novel or the first draft of a short story, and will possess the tools to keep the momentum going.

This is the second course of the four-quarter sequence, “The Craft of Creative Writing: The Telling Tools.” The four courses focus on Description (Fall 2018), Character (Winter 2019), Scene (Spring 2019), and Point of View (Summer 2019). These courses are less workshop-oriented than most of our Creative Writing courses, instead devoting each quarter to an intensive and wide-ranging practicum in a key question of craft. While these courses build upon one another, each course can be taken independently as well.

Martha Conway, Author

Martha Conway’s latest novel, The Underground River, was a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice. Her first novel was nominated for an Edgar Award, and her short fiction has appeared in The Iowa Review, Carolina Quarterly, Massachusetts Review, The Quarterly, and other journals. Conway received an MA in creative writing from SF State.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) John Truby, The Anatomy of Story (ISBN 978-0-86547-951-7)
(Required) Lily King, Euphoria (ISBN 978-0-8021-2370-1)
(Required) Ursula Le Guin, Steering the Craft (ISBN 978-0-544-61161-0)
(Recommended) Jane Smiley, 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel (ISBN 978-1-4000-3318-8)
DOWNLOAD THE PRELIMINARY SYLLABUS » (subject to change)