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The Mechanics of Fiction Writing

Click on thumbnails for video lecture links:

Lesson 26.
Characters

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What are characters, and how does a writer make an interesting one? We'll briefly discuss why it isn't just a character's attributes and backstory that make them interesting. Even the most boring "people" can make for very interesting characters.

Lesson 27.
Explicit and Implicit Knowledge

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Readers can get to know characters well over the course of a story. But a writer's intuition about how this process unfolds isn't always reliable. We'll discuss how the reader learns what they know about characters--primarily through distinguishing between description and characterization. This is one of the trickier elements of character-building for writers to master.

Lesson 28.
From Agent to Patient

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You may hear the term agency thrown around in literary discussions. So which characters should have agency, when, and why? We'll discuss what it means for a character to have agency and how that question interacts with both genre and the story's progression. There may be no easy answer, but this lesson should serve as a good way to think about who has agency in your story and why.

Lesson 29.
Empathy Markers

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Why do readers hate a villain or love a protagonist? The answer is often surprisingly simple, even in the most "literary" stories. The veil is lifted. Also: popular (genre) fiction vs. "literary" fiction.

Lesson 30.
Rolling Rocks or Skipping Stones?

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E.M. Forster coined perhaps the most common distinction regarding characters in the study of fiction—flat and round characters. Here, we'll examine why flat characters are often underrated and why Forster's test for "roundness" is a bit, well, flat.

 

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