Charles Holdefer


Charles Holdefer (M.F.A., The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop; Ph.D., Sorbonne) is the author of six novels, including Don’t Look at Me (2022), Bring Me the Head of Mr. Boots (2019) and The Contractor (2012), which was an American Booksellers Association “Book Sense Pick” and was translated into several languages. His short fiction has won a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in the New England Review, North American Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, Litro and elsewhere. His other books include George Saunders’ Pastoralia: Bookmarked (nonfiction) and Magic Even You Can Do (fiction hybrid). He also writes essays and reviews for various magazines and taught for many years at the University of Poitiers, France. Visit Charles at


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The Balancing Act: Narration, Character and Dialogue in Fiction

Event status
Attendance Required
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? (Click title to read more...)
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