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1-Day Fiction Master Class: The Three Layers of Character

  • Catapult 1140, Broadway New York, NY, 10001 United States (map)

In his book How Fiction Works, critic James Wood describes the modern character in fiction as having three layers: conscious motive, unconscious motive, and the deepest, most ephemeral, motive... to be known. This master class will examine this idea and, through a series of collaborative writing exercises, help students develop original, three-layered characters to use in their fiction. We'll look at short texts by Sherwood Anderson, Flannery O'Connor, and Virginia Woolf that will help us get to the bottom of great, complex character development.


- Develop a more nuanced understanding of the three layers of character

- Create an original, layered character through a series of useful writing exercises that can be easily repeated at home

- Produce several written sketches that can be used in a later story or novel