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To be an avid reader is to fall in love with characters unlike ourselves. Yet to be a fiction writer is to be responsible for creating them. What does it mean to be attentive to our characters’ humanity? To look beyond their functions as propellers of plot or sites of history? In this four-week course, we will approach the page with humility, considering how to create complex characters—even if their experiences differ from our own. We will examine strategies for writing traumatic events without veering into exploitation, for making secondary characters feel as full-fledged as our protagonists, and for writing against stereotype. Above all, we will make discomfort a tool in our writing, so that we might avoid denying our characters the fullness of their lives. Course participants can expect to write weekly scenes or reflections of approximately five hundred words, as well as to read excerpts from Mohsin Hamid, Lauren Groff, Toni Morrison, and other authors. Novelists and short story writers of all levels welcome!

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