waw-masterclass

Words Are Work (WAW) Project series rolled out its first Masterclass which was a one-day fiction intensive. The class focused on character and was themed “How to build an iceberg (and great fictional characters while at it).” It was facilitated by Chisom Ojukwu and Suyi Davies Okungbowa in partnership with Goethe Institut, Lagos, Nigeria.

The Masterclass featured two sessions: one on building a character like an iceberg and and another on how to make readers care about characters by telling them almost nothing.

The sessions offered advice on how to build fully formed fictional characters and bring them to life on the page by revealing them to readers with time-tested techniques.

waw-masterclass

One of the key points made during the sessions was that character is the heart and soul of a story. As a writer, the more you understand and empathize with them, the better you will be at writing. A Character without flaws is a cardboard cut-out, boring and flat.

The character behavior triangle revolves around Traits, Flaws and Desires/Needs. The biggest writing mistake most writers make is not understanding your character’s motivation. Motivation can be physical, social and psychological.

As Hemingway puts it, “a character is a person. A person is like an iceberg, like an iceberg, 7/8th of a personality lies beneath the surface.”

How do you make your readers care about your story? You tell them (almost) nothing. Show don’t just tell. Showing and telling are two sides of the same coin, they complement each other. There are different ways of showing in a story: Action, Dialogue, Thought, Physical distinctions and mannerisms.

waw-masterclass

 

There were writing exercises for the participants and critique of randomly selected exercises during the masterclass. The participants also engaged in readings of illustrative excerpts and their ability with words were tested in some games.

Some of the participants shared their thoughts about the masterclass:

Oyinda said: “It was wonderful and I learned a lot. It has made me see Fiction writing in a different way. I always thought it was all about imagination and pushing for a perfect ending but now I see it as something with a big element of real life with human characters.”

As James puts it: “It was quite interesting and I had a lot of rethinking as regards Fiction writing because it was the principal thing I wrote before and then began to write other stuffs. I had a great time anyway, I started to think perhaps I should focus more on fiction.”

Words Are Work (WAW) was founded in 2014. It is co-curated by Chisom Ojukwu and Suyi Davies Okungbowa with over fifty registered writers. It provides editorial services with a focus on quality not quantity and has also grown over the years to create job opportunities. The Project Series is an avenue for writers to learn, grow and most especially get paid which is a key part of the platform. Words maybe work but they make them fun too!

Tags: ,

6 Responses to “WAW Fiction Masterclass on Building Strong Fictional Characters” Subscribe

  1. Uzodinma Okpechi 2016/10/06 at 00:56 #

    Congratulations guys. I am interested in taken part in the next WAW. Uzodinma.

  2. john_onah 2016/10/06 at 04:31 #

    wow, what a great deal opportunity i did miss.
    sure won’t let it pass me by next time.
    WAW kudos!

  3. Duncan Mongwaketse 2016/10/06 at 07:59 #

    Hello.

    I’m interested in knowing if it possible for me to get that particular workshop/class material.

  4. WAW Team 2016/10/07 at 05:35 #

    Hello, Duncan.

    Yes, we will have the Masterclass Notes out on the market soon. Follow WordsAreWork on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook to keep updated for when the notes come out, or visit us at wordsarework.com.

    Thanks.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Journey so far: October 2016 – Suyi Davies Okungbowa - 2016/10/12

    […] So, teaming up with Goethe-Institut and a couple of other partners, we launched the inaugural WAW Fiction Masterclass in late September. It was a free one-day fiction masterclass with 20 participants, focused on character building and revelation. It turned out to be a huge success, so huge that a couple of the participants felt compelled to gush about it here, here and here. […]

  2. Now on Sale: The WAW Fiction Micromasterclass on Character - Words Are Work - 2016/11/07

    […] Brittlepaper […]

Leave a Reply

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Archives

How the Huza Press Prize for Fiction is Reshaping Rwandan Literature

huza prize

It was the pressing need to reclaim our narrative, which as many of you are aware was being largely told […]

PHOTOS: Chibundu Onuzo Redefines the Classic Literary Book Launch Party

chibundu (1)

A few days ago, book lovers gathered at London’s Southbank Center for the launch of Chibundu Onuzo’s second novel, Welcome […]

Teju Cole is a Finalist for PEN America’s Richest ($75,000) Prize

teju cole 3

Congrats to Teju Cole for being named a finalist in what might be PEN’s most prestigious prize yet. The PEN/Jean […]

Dear Genevieve, Find Your Voice | by Pa Ikhide

dear genevieve pa ikhide

How are you? What are you up to? I am going back and reading the old classics from the African […]

PHOTOS | Abantu Book Festival: A Literary Platform for Black Writers and Readers

abantu-festival-golakai

On December 6th, history was made in South Africa with the inauguration of the Abantu Festival. Black writers in South Africa […]

Teju Cole, Petina Gappah, Yaa Gyasi, Helen Oyeyemi Named Finalists in PEN/America’s Literary Awards

pen america finalist 2017

In December, we announced the longlists of the 2017 PEN America literary awards. The lists of finalists are now out, […]