Writing Characters of Depth (When Change Is Not An Option)
We have been told that our characters must be capable of change, but what about characters whose circumstances leave them little room for it? What happens when the events of the plot, the tension of the atmosphere, the confines of the setting, or the character’s own fears narrow the possibilities? How do you develop a character of depth for whom change is not an option? We’ll examine this question through reading and discussing as four exquisite short stories, engaging in writing exercises, and workshopping your own character-driven fiction.
* All texts will be provided by the instructor and/or are available for free online.
James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues”
Carmen Maria Machado’s “The Husband Stitch”
Tillie Olsen’s “I Stand Here Ironing”
Alice Munro’s “Dimensions”
Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum
Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum is the author of three collections of short fiction, most recently What We Do With the Wreckage, which won the 2017 Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction and was published by UGA Press in 2018. Her earlier collections are Swimming With Strangers (Chronicle, 2008) and This Life She's Chosen (Chronicle, 2005). Her short fiction has been published in Ploughshares, McSweeney's, One Story, and North American Review, among other journals, and she has been the recipient of a PEN/O. Henry Prize. Kirsten teaches fiction writing at Hugo House and 9th-12th grade English at a small independent school near Seattle.