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

The Little People: Making the Most of Minor Characters in Fiction and Memoir

No Longer Enrolling

  • $130.00 Non-Member
  • $110.00 Member

Class Description

The greatest novelists in the English language—Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, George Eliot, Herman Melville, Henry James, James Joyce, F.Scott Fitzgerald—gave them voices and cameos that make them hard to forget. They are the prophets and idiots, shepherds and choristers, financiers and secretaries, golfers andgrandfathers of the short story and the novel. Virginia Woolf , Marcel Proust, George Orwell, and more recently, Malcolm Gladwell, made use of them, too, in their non-fiction, in an effort to give smaller but still significant moments, and bizarre social patterns their due.

This seminar will ask you to examine the usual suspects ofyour stories (from fiction and from life), and start holding auditions for some new parts—the third-grade nerd with bad dandruff, the great aunt who never stops talking, the intellectual postman, the poker-playing nurse, and thepet ferret who ruled your days though he never said a word (think Sredni Vashtar). The aim will be to get you thinking about the ‘little people’ who already populate your consciousness, and to give them a larger life on thepage.

This seminar will serve intermediate and advanced writers of literary fiction and creative non-fiction who are interested in broadening their subject matter, breaking “type” and deepening realism in their narrative world. Come with a list of your favorite minor characters, if you have some, and in addition to the lecture, we will do a number of point-of-view and memory-jogging exercises to the end of generating a bunch of new voices/perspectives/figures for you to explore in your future writing.

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!