Writing Difference: Strategies for Developing Fictional Characters Across Diverse Backgrounds

Regular $52.50
Member $47.25
9 a.m.-Noon
Open to All Levels
Online—Live Meeting
Number of Sessions
Day of the Week
Single Session
Fiction Graphic

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, through the constructive lens of craft, we will explore ways of writing about those who are different from us. Using generative concepts such as the cultural iceberg; marked and unmarked states in characterization; and congruence, which involves establishing ties between readers and characters, we’ll unpack successful ways of writing characters across not only racial and cultural divides but also our spectrum of differences in areas such as gender and sexual orientation.

We will examine and build on these particular 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 in class to further explore ideas in our own personal writing. To illustrate how writers have tackled inclusivity in their own work, we will also read short fictive excerpts by Zadie Smith and Mavis Gallant, among others. In addition, we will discuss and explore some problematic ways of writing "the other," especially in regard to the use of vernacular language and cultural appropriation. Students will be encouraged to engage in discussion within an open and welcoming environment.

Instructions for Accessing This Online Class

In order to access live class meetings, you must have the Zoom application downloaded to your computer. You will also need a WiFi/Internet connection throughout the duration of your scheduled meeting and a computer with audio and video capability. The information to join your Zoom classroom will be provided in your confirmation email upon registration. Please check spam folders if you do not see this email upon registration. For more information on how to use Zoom, please see our training manual here.

Some classes use a supplemental Google Classroom page. Should your teaching artist use Google Classroom, you will be invited to join the classroom via email at least 24 hours in advance of your class (check spam folders if you are not seeing this invitation). Please note that Google Classroom requires a Gmail address to access the Classroom. If you do not have a Gmail account, the email invitation will be sent to the email address we have on file and will prompt you to create a free account or enter an existing account to join the classroom. If we are unable to send an email invitation to your non-gmail account, you will be contacted by a staff member to provide a Gmail address. If you do not have a Gmail account, you can create a free account here. Should you have concerns about this, please contact a Loft staff member at or 612-379-8999. For more information on how to use Google Classroom, please see our training manual here.