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  • Seminar
  • Online: Zoom
  • Adult (18+)

Personal Narrative Essentials: Building Characters

No Longer Enrolling

  • $150.00 Non-Member
  • $130.00 Member

Class Description

Do you worry your "I" is boring, whiny, self-indulgent or one-dimensional? Do you fear no one cares about the character of you, or other characters, in your essay or memoir? If you're writing nonfiction that features your little ole self, you might worry the "I" (that is, the character of you in your story) just isn't grabbing the reader. Perhaps it's because in your personal narrative, you haven't fully developed yourself as a character. Same goes for other characters. Just like in fiction, if you're writing nonfiction --- a book-length memoir, or a personal essay --- your own persona needs to be a well-rounded, reflective, complex character, with a rich and complex backstory and vivid physical characteristics. You'll need to begin your narrative with the "I" in a compelling place. Your "I" also needs to go through an emotional/intellectual journey, or a "character arc", complete with dreams and desires, and beset with conflicts, fears, complications and contradictions. In this seminar, we'll show you how this is done. Via lecture, discussion of great examples from memoirs and personal essays (from the likes of Sarah Hepola, Michelle Kuo, Jaquira Diaz, and others), short exercises and Q&A, we'll explore how to make yourself a compelling character. You'll leave having written some new passages that you can later expand upon and import into your current projects. Bring to class a chunk of writing -- memoir or essay -- that features yourself as a character (perhaps a work you're struggling with).

Part of The Personal Narrative Essentials series taught by Ethan Gilsdorf. Take every class in the series or simply choose the craft topics that are relevant to the challenges you face in your work. Classes include:

Scholarships Format/Location

Thanks to the excellent literary citizenship of our donors, scholarships are available for all GrubStreet classes. To apply, click the gray "APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP" button. In order to be considered for a scholarship, you must complete your application at least one week before the start date of a class. Please await our scholarship committee's decision before registering for the class. We cannot hold spots in classes, so the sooner you apply, the better. Scholarships cannot be applied retroactively.

For more detailed information about GrubStreet scholarships, including how to contribute to scholarship funds for other students, click here.

This class will take place using Zoom videoconferencing. About 15 minutes before your class is scheduled to begin, you'll receive an email from your instructor with a link to join the class meeting!

Zoom Participation:

Students are not required to turn their camera on, but are encouraged to participate any way they feel comfortable through functions such as the live chat, emoji reactions, and unmuting the microphone. Learn more about using Zoom here.

Zoom Accessibility:

We ask that instructors enable closed captioning and send a transcript of the session after class. You can also enable closed captioning at any time during the meeting. If your instructor forgets to send the transcript, just send ’em an email!