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EGL 12 W — The Art of Character: Creating a Compelling Cast of Characters

Quarter: Fall
Course Format: Online course (System Requirements)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Sep 25—Dec 8
Drop Deadline: Sep 28
Units: 3
Tuition: $880
Instructor(s): Martha Conway
Limit: 17
Status: Closed
Please Note: No class the week of November 20. Update: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is 9/28 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is 10/3 at 5:00 pm (PT).
Fall
Date(s)
Sep 25—Dec 8
10 weeks
Drop By
Sep 28
3 Units
Fees
$880
Instructor(s):
Martha Conway
Limit
17
Closed
Please Note: No class the week of November 20. Update: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is 9/28 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is 10/3 at 5:00 pm (PT).
Character is fate, according to the ancient Greeks. This course uses that idea as a springboard for fiction writers (both new and experienced) to develop authentic characters that “write their own stories.” Why do some characters engage our interest more than others? How can we make our own characters more compelling? In the first half of this 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 short stories with the characters we have developed. Over the entire ten-week period, 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 have the tools to keep the momentum going.

Martha Conway, Author

Martha Conway’s latest novel is The Underground River. She has received numerous awards for historical fiction, and her novel 12 Bliss Street was nominated for an Edgar Award. Her short fiction has appeared in The Iowa Review, Carolina Quarterly, The 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 978-0865479937)
(Required) Lily King, Euphoria (ISBN 978-0802123701)
(Required) David Mamet, Three Uses of the Knife (ISBN 978-0375704239)
DOWNLOAD THE PRELIMINARY SYLLABUS » (subject to change)