Pop Up: Creating Compelling Characters

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What makes a character compelling? How can we craft characters that feel both layered and true? In this generative class, we will analyze what makes characters successful, and will apply what we have learned to exercises in which we develop our own characters. Participants will leave with at least one character sketch, as well as strategies for strengthening their own character work. Appropriate for all levels and all genres, although the close readings will all be fiction.

About Mathangi Subramanian

Mathangi Subramanian, Ed.D., is an Indian American writer and educator. Her novel A People's History of Heaven was longlisted for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and is a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Her middle grades book Dear Mrs. Naidu won the South Asia Book Award. Her personal essays and nonfiction have appeared in The Washington Post, Ms. Magazine, Zora Magazine, and Al Jazeera America, among others. She holds a doctorate in education from Columbia Teachers College and lives on the west coast with her husband and daughter.

Teaching Style: Over the past 16 years, Mathangi has taught students ranging from incarcerated youth in New York to English language learners in a Bangalore slum to pre-service teachers at an Ivy League University. Her teaching style combines high expectations with high support. Whatever your background, Mathangi believes you have a story to tell, and that her job is to help you tell it in the most authentic way possible.

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