Space for Mystery: Developing Complex Characters in Fiction
Facilitator: Kayla Rae Whitaker
Dates: March 9 – April 3, 2020
Class Size: 10
Kurt Vonnegut once advised writers to “make your character want something, even if it is only a glass of water.” This directive is not for the sake of plot development alone; it is desire, more than any other attribute, that informs the mystery of character. This course will provide a deep dive into character development, operating on the tenet that the writer’s job is to allow for mysteries while summoning those peopling their fiction as completely as possible. We’ll examine work from masters of the form, from Nabokov to Willa Cather, Barry Hannah to R. Crumb. The tactics employed in these works will inform our generative exercises, producing new material to either nourish existing projects, or spark new ones.
Kayla Rae Whitaker’s work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Buzzfeed, Literary Hub, Lenny Letter, and others. She has an MFA from New York University. Her debut novel, THE ANIMATORS, was named one of the best debut novels of 2017 by Entertainment Weekly and one of the best books of 2017 by NPR, Kirkus Reviews, and BookPage.