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WSP 322 — Larger Than Life: Creating Characters That Fly Off the Page

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Saturdays
Course Format: On-campus course
Duration: 2 days
Date(s): Nov 4—Nov 11
Time: 10:00 am—4:00 pm
Drop Deadline: Oct 28
Unit: 1
Tuition: $355
Instructor(s): Aamina Ahmad
Limit: 21
Status: Open
On-campus course
10:00 am—4:00 pm
Nov 4—Nov 11
2 days
Drop By
Oct 28
1 Unit
Aamina Ahmad
In this course, we will consider how to give breath to our characters, finding ways to make them feel like real, complicated beings within the confines of the short story. Reading work by Junot Díaz, ZZ Packer, Jhumpa Lahiri, Maggie Shipstead, and others, we will immerse ourselves in the process of building characters from the inside out, and outside in. Because character presents itself to the reader through every aspect of the story—in dialogue, the way characters register a landscape, and the choices characters make on their journey—we will explore character development through prose exercises covering everything from voice and dialogue to plot and structure. We will borrow techniques from drama, the director’s approach to mise-en-scène, the actor’s toolbox, and the playwright’s flair for subtext and dialogue to create characters with whom readers will feel they have experienced something deep and true. By the end of the course, you will have the tools to further explore characters in your stories that are already in progress, or to create characters who will become the starting point, the heart and soul, of stories you want to write in the future.

Aamina Ahmad, Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford

Aamina Ahmad’s short fiction has appeared in The Normal School, The Missouri Review, Ecotone, and elsewhere. She has received The Missouri Review Peden Prize. Her play, The Dishonoured, was nominated for an Off West End Theatre Award. She has taught fiction and screenwriting to both undergraduates and graduate students. Ahmad received an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.