Character Development, Workshops

Characterization workshop on December 16

Expanding Characterization: Discovering the Unlived Life, 

is an intensive workshop on December 16, 12:30-4:30 pm, Hudson Valley Writers’ Center

On December 16, at the beautiful Hudson Valley Writers’ Center, I’ll be teaching an intensive workshop on characterization, with a richly productive approach, that makes our work that day follow an unusual path, one that embraces and explores the mysteries of our characters.

Look ahead to a day that will help you break through into knowing and expressing your characters at a whole different level, with more depth, truth and beauty. You’ll walk away with much writing, and much more to do when you get back to your own work table.

This workshop is for writers at all levels of experience, in fiction and memoir (useful also for poets working with character and persona poems). It’s called, on the HVW Center’s site —

Expanding Characterization: Discovering the Unlived Life

(or as I like to call it, for longer spaces:
Discovering the Unlived Life: Writing Through the Mystery of Human Behavior in Fiction and Memoir; a workshop in characterization)

Here is a fuller description of the workshop than the one that appears at the Center’s website:

Character work is central to discovering story rather than imposing the story upon characters who must then fit a pre-fabricated plot. In nonfiction as well as fiction, this work is crucial not only to flesh out characters, but to discover who holds/tells/withholds the story, resulting in the telling of a richer and more fully contextualized truth than we originally imagined. But how do writers gather the inspiration, courage and imaginative power, the craft and the grounded knowledge of the world, to walk truthfully beside their characters and tell their stories, share their discoveries?

Good writing probes the mysteries of human behavior and motivation. Each of us is unique, formed out of an endless range of factors: culture, history, economics, region, race, family, experience, happenstance and mystery do not complete the list. Our characters deserve no less specificity, no less fullness. But working with back story alone, with what has happened to a character up to the moment that we meet that character, is only part of what we need to examine in character development. An unlived life is hidden within the life each character must live to get by. In this writing workshop, we will explore that land of the unlived life, which is bordered by frustration, overwork, social pressures, forgetting, distractions, and violences, large and small. It is a territory of yearning, and charged by the deep human desire to create, to express, and to fulfill the individual and social self in creativity and community.

Through a series of discussions, diverse readings and focused writing explorations, we will work to deepen our ability to bring the power of developed and authentic beings into our writing, and to begin to extend our range to include characters we may dislike or fear, characters that puzzle or fascinate us, as well as those with whom we identify. We will work with the power of the unlived life, and how it moves our characters.

For writers at all levels of experience, in fiction and memoir (useful also for poets working with character and persona poems).

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