Class Title: Characters Are People
Instructor: Katherine McCord
Class Term: August 6-September 10, 2018
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Using what Hemingway said about craft, that characters aren't characters but people and the metaphor of an iceberg that in the story we only see the tip, we will "unpack" the character/person through a series of writing assignments so students can know their characters/people well enough to write stories about them.
The course will consist of lectures concerning elements of craft, such as what I call the parallel lines of study and inspiration, and writing assignments concerning their characters—to understand them, go beneath the tip of the iceberg and down in the ocean so they can create stories in the future.
At the end of this class, students will be able to understand their characters on such a deep level that their stories concerning the characters written in the future will be written from that knowing without ever having to mention what they've learned about their characters. Yet this learning will deepen their stories.
Instruction/Communication Method: Although we will be doing all the methods above, we will use email for me to deliver lectures, students to send out their writing to classmates and me and classmates' responses. There will be no additional materials required besides email and access to internet.
- Unit 1: Introductions, welcoming, lecture delivered by me concerning the details of the theory that characters are really people. Students may respond to and discuss the lecture as needed. By the end of the week, students will email out their written assignment (for all of us to see) which for week 1 will be to complete a journal entry written by their character.
- Unit 2: Lecture delivered by me concerning how to respond to student work and how this can relay writing growth. Students may respond and discuss the lecture as needed. By the end of the week, students will email out their written assignment which will be to complete a description of their person's backpack or purse, briefcase, etc., and we will respond.
- Unit 3: Lecture delivered by me concerning action, how the emotion of their person is shown by action, and those actions are starting to be understood via these writing assignments. Students may respond and discuss the lecture as needed. By the end of the week, students will email out their written assignment which will be to complete a homework assignment or memo, note, etc., written by their character and we will respond.
- Unit 4: Lecture delivered by me concerning writing toward truth, heat, and the bottom dropping out. Students may respond and discuss the lecture as needed. By the end of the week, students will email their written assignment which will be to describe in detail their character's most valued possession, and we will respond.
- Unit 5: Lecture delivered by me concerning the scale of revision, how that can change, and conclusions. Students may respond and discuss the lecture as needed. By the end of the week, students will email out their written assignment which will be to complete a memory, in terms of how their characters remember it, and we will respond.
Student Skills, Equipment, and Time Required
All levels of writing, email skills and internet skills
Time Commitment: 4 hours
Tuition/Fees for this course
SCN members: $160. Non-SCN members: $200.
Katherine McCord's two books of poetry are Island and Living Room. Her third book, My CIA, is a memoir that was named a top ten 'Great' book of 2012 by R.A.L.P.H. and added to their ongoing list of Great Nonfiction. It won a Baker Artist Award; was showcased on Maryland Public Television's An Artworks Special; and was featured through an art installation co-produced by MICA's MFA in Curatorial Practice, December 2013. Katherine has published widely in literary journals such as APR. She has an MFA in Poetry and an MA in Creative Writing. Her most recent book is Run Scream Unbury Save which won the Autumn House Open Book Award in Creative Nonfiction, judged by Michael Martone.