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

The Hero Becomes His Flaw: Unlocking Characterization in Speculative Fiction

No Longer Enrolling

  • $75.00 Non-Member
  • $65.00 Member

Class Description

Speculative fiction writers (sci-fi, fantasy, and related subgenres) face a balancing act when it comes to characterization. On one hand, we inherit the scale of myth, the fantastical archetypes that capture our imagination, the epic heroes and villains. These characters are memorable because extremes exist in our sociopolitical realities and speculative fiction provides a space to explore them. And yet, we hunger too for the achingly human character, the kind that endure in literary fiction. The concept of the heroic flaw dates back to Aristotle: a hero has a weakness, often rooted in strength. Contemporary characterization also examines people in their complexity and recognizes how our good traits are often the same traits that get us into trouble. This one-day class will focus on exercises that explore the heroic and human levels of characterization. We’ll read, discuss, play with thesauruses, map out scenes, and do some in-class writing to identify the strengths and flaws that can help create compelling, consistent characters. Writers will be expected to have a character in mind that they want to work with and will leave class with new ideas for that character's journey. Writers discussed may include: Ursula K. LeGuin, J.R.R. Tolkien, Thomas A. Shippey, Junot Díaz, and Octavia E. Butler.

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. Please visit the Resources tab to access the video-conference link.

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!