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.
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.
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!