Contrary to everything fiction writers are told about crafting credible of characters, this workshop will explore when and why your characters should do something “out of character” as a technique for further developing who they are, but to also build tension, create conflict, and/or work toward revelation and resolution. This workshop will focus on creating believable characters as well by crafting realistic portraits of the human psyche by focusing on all the ways people are walking contradictions. Generally speaking no one is all good or all bad and we will focus on crafting complex characters. We will explore when, why, and how to write a flawed, wounded, or otherwise damaged protagonist, as well as how to really complicate matters by writing villains who do good (or at least are characters we can have empathy for). The following quote will be the mantra of this class: “As a writer, you should not judge, you should understand”—Ernest Hemingway.
Sarah Elizabeth Schantz is primarily a fiction writer living on the outskirts of Boulder, Colorado with her family in a Victorian-era farmhouse where they are surrounded by open sky, coyote, and century-old cottonwoods. Her novel Fig debuted from Simon & Schuster in 2015 and was selected by NPR as A Best Read of the Year before winning a 2016 Colorado Book Award. Her short stories, essays, and occasional poem have appeared in journals such as Hunger Mountain, Los Angeles Review, Third Coast, Midwestern Gothic, Maggot Brain, and more. She is currently working on two novels—Roadside Altars and Just Like Heaven—as well as a collection of short stories, Tales of Dead Children. She is faculty at Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop in Denver, adjunct at Naropa University, and teaches for her own workshop series (W)rites of Passage through which she also offers writing midwifery for authors of all kinds and levels.