ClassWriting Difference: Strategies for Developing Fictional Characters Across Diverse Backgrounds
Because we live in an increasingly diverse world where representation and inclusion matter, how we write our characters into our fictional worlds matters too.
In this class, we will take an exploratory approach to writing about those who are different from us. Using generative concepts that aim to root out stereotypical thinking and to broadly address issues pertinent to our understanding of race and culture, we'll unpack some successful ways of writing characters across our spectrum of differences.
We will examine and build on new and established concepts, some of which appear in Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward's "Writing the Other," a text to be used as a reference in class. Exercises will be assigned to further explore ideas in our own personal writing. To illustrate how writers have successfully tackled such issues in their own work, we will also read excerpts by Zadie Smith, Andrea Lee, and Rebecca Makkai, among others.
In addition, we will examine and discuss some problematic ways of writing across difference, especially in regards to issues such as the use of vernacular language and cultural appropriation. Students will be encouraged to engage in discussion within an open and welcoming environment.