The Balancing Act: Narration, Character and Dialogue in Fiction


Telling a story well requires a sure touch with narration, characterization and dialogue. But how do you find the right balance?

This is a nuts-and-bolts craft workshop that welcomes fiction writers of all levels. We’ll look at brief samples from contemporary writers (Zadie Smith, George Saunders, Patricia Lockwood et al.) and consider characterization techniques and the question of empathy. Does your main character have to be “likeable”? What is “likeable” anyway?

We’ll also ask questions about dialogue, idiolect and profanity (yes, swearing is an artful activity!). We’ll explore when to give your characters a rest and let your narrator do the talking. The common saying, “Show don’t tell” isn’t always true, but this fact begs the questions: How do I show? When do I tell?

Whether you’re a novelist or short story writer, a newbie or someone with a completed project ready for revision, you will leave this workshop with a keener appreciation of the tools at your disposal and how they might serve your writing.

In this workshop, we will generate new writing through exercises that will allow participants to experiment with their own work-in-progress, and each writer will also be invited to bring work from home to share with the group for critique.

Hybrid Forms
Middle Grade
Science Fiction
Short Story
Speculative Fiction
Young Adult
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