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JOU8128

Course
JOU8128
Course Title
Creating Characters That Connect

Description

This course will focus on the basic principles involved in writing compelling, three-dimensional characters for short and long narratives. Aspiring novelists and short story writers will benefit as they analyze elements that make up a successful character. Students will examine character depth and growth, write dialogue, learn to identify a character’s wants and needs and complete a character’s autobiography.

*Bring a composition book, pen, jump drive and favorite novel or short story to the first class.

Upon enrollment in the class, you will receive an invitation for the class wiki site: http://createacharactercpcc.pbworks.com. This is an online, editable website for class assignments, postings and student work and critiques. Go to the front page of the wiki and follow the instructions several days before class begins.

Suggested supplemental texts include “Characters & Viewpoint” by Orson Scott Card and “Teaching the Story: Fiction Writing in Grades 4-8” by Carol Baldwin. Recommended reading: “Bronx Masquerade” by Nikki Grimes.

Objectives

You will learn to:

  • Create major and minor characters
  • Identify what makes a character interesting
  • Define characters through dialogue
  • Identify Protagonist vs. Antagonist (s)
  • Understand character’s “wants” and “needs”
  • Understand the role of inner and outer conflicts
  • Promote character growth

Content

SESSION ONE: GETTING TO KNOW YOU and PART I - CONSTRUCTING BELIEVABLE CHARACTERS

  • Class Introduction and Overview
  • Instructor’s bio, day-book, wiki, record keeping
  • Students’ introductions and writing interests
  • Review wiki
  • General writing principles
  • Create a Character: First, brainstorming

SESSION TWO: PART II - CONSTRUCTING BELIEVABLE CHARACTERS: NAMES, NEEDS, TENSION & RESEARCH

  • Review Session One
  • What Makes Good Fictional Characters
  • Where do Characters Come From?
  • Names
  • How many characters should you have?
  • How can you avoid clichés and stereotypes?
  • What is your character’s back story?
  • What does your character want? Need?
  • Writing a Plot sentence
  • What are your character’s inner & outer conflicts?
  • How can you up the ante?
  • Research - when do you have enough?
  • Consistency counts
  • The past impacts the present

SESSION THREE: PART III - CONSTRUCTING BELIEVABLE CHARACTERS: POINT OF VIEW & CHOOSING YOUR TENSE

  • What should your reader feel about you character?
  • What kind of story are you telling?
  • Transformations
  • Point of view/ pro’s and con’s
  • Tense
  • Flashbacks
  • Signs and foreshadowing

SESSION FOUR: PART IV - CONSTRUCTING BELIEVABLE CHARACTERS: VOICE & DIALOGUE

  • What is voice?
  • Syntax, word choice, slang, vernacular
  • Dialogue
  • YouTube – you write the dialogue
  • Nonverbal cues - what is the character doing?
  • Practice, practice, practice!

SESSION FIVE: SOLVING CHARACTER PROBLEMS, SETTING AS CHARACTER

  • Solving Character Problems
  • Setting as Character
  • Creating Character Relationships

SESSION SIX: CHARACTER WRAP UP

  • Where do you go from here?
  • Publishing options
  • Open Mic

Prerequisites

  • No experience necessary but this class requires a serious interest in narrative writing and character development

Method of Instruction

Lecture, in-class exercises, open discussion, take-home assignments and critiques

Evaluation

  • Exam:  No
  • Demonstration of Skills:  Yes
  • Class Participation:  Yes