MAKING MESSES: HOW CHARACTER & PLOT THRIVE ON MISTAKES Fiction often relies on bad behavior and making messes. In an interview about writing his movies, Ethan Coen said that many of his stories begin when he takes a situation or problem and gives it to a character who is incapable of dealing with it. Mistakes are then made, and they pile up, moving the narrative forward. In this class, we’ll look at the movie The Big Lebowski and a few pieces of literature where characters create difficult problems for themselves and then have to solve them.
Come to this workshop prepared to write! We’ll be doing exercises in character development with bad behavior and mistakes in mind. Problems in fiction often stem from interactions between characters. We’ll pay close attention to what kinds of interactions might create the best problems for your characters, and how these can relate to the broader narrative within a story.
Amber Wheeler Bacon is a writer, editor, teacher and literacy coach. She has an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and is on the board of directors of the South Carolina Writers Association. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ecotone, Epiphany, Five Points, Post Road, New Ohio Review, Crazyhorse and Witness. You can find her writing online at Ploughshares, CRAFT, Fiction Writer’s Review and New South. She is the recipient of the 2018 Breakout Writers Prize sponsored by The Author’s Guild and a 2021 scholarship from Bread Loaf Environmental. In 2020, her story collection, “We Were Vessels,” was one of five finalists for Hub City Press’s C. Michael Curtis Short Story Book Prize and a finalist for Moon City Press’s Short Fiction Award. She received the 2022 Lit/South Award for flash fiction and serves as daily editor at the Southern Review of Books. Amber currently teaches English at Coastal Carolina University and is represented by Amy Bishop at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret.
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