Joseph Scapellato - When What They Want Is Not Enough: Alternative Approaches to Character

  • October 15, 2020
  • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Remote


Registration is closed

SESSION CHANGE! Amina Gautier is unavailable. Paths to Publication with Zachary Martin will be May 13.

REMOTE SESSION (OCWW is remote through December)

You might have heard that in order to write a character well, you must know what that character wants.  There’s no question that this advice is helpful in certain situations.  But orienting your writing process to “what a character wants” is not the only way to think about and/or feel your way through a character, and if you find yourself in a jam, it might be time to try looking at your draft through a different lens.

In this class, we’ll explore practical alternatives to “Know What Your Character Wants.” We’ll walk through concrete examples and focused exercises that will present methods for finding direction, discovery, and inspiration in what a character lacks, the stories that characters tell about themselves, and surprise interactions, as well as “alternative character questionnaires,” radical truth-telling, and narrative density.  These approaches will be designed to be useful no matter what stage you’re at with your current projects, whether you’re planning, composing, or revising, and will be applicable to main, supporting, and minor characters.

You’ll leave class with a number of practical alternative methods for writing character—for letting what interests you most about your characters lead you through your drafts.

Bio: Joseph Scapellato is the author of the novel, The Made-Up Man(2019), and the story collection, Big Lonesome (2017). He grew up in the western suburbs of Chicago and earned his MFA in Fiction at New Mexico State University. Joseph is an assistant professor of English in the creative writing program at Bucknell University, and lives in Lewisburg, PA, with his wife, daughter, and dog.

We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at for details.

9-9:30 AM Socializing 

9:30- 12 PM Program 

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