Oct. 4, 2014
Time: 9am to 12 pm
Location: Village Writing School
Enough Sympathy Already…Bring on the Antagonists
Think Iago. Think Scrooge (before the ghosts arrived). Think Mephistopheles and Dr. Moriarty and Voldemort.
Sympathetic characters are made much of in today’s literary circles. But what about the bad guys (or girls)? Without question, they stir things up. They lie and lust and lead the good guys (and girls) shockingly astray. They can be counted on to propel a narrative, often at break-neck speed. In short, they deserve attention and thoughtful rendering on the part of the writer in order to reach their full potential as characters, rather than flimsy caricatures of evil.
We’ll discuss the nature and purpose of antagonists in fiction and consider specific examples, both classic and contemporary, paying particular attention to how they function and what makes them memorable and unique (rather than stereotypes). Each participant is encouraged to bring a story or novel excerpt that includes a favorite (or despised) antagonist to share with the class. We’ll conclude by considering the challenges of writing about particularly heinous characters and their potential effect on readers.
Marian Szczepanski holds an MFA in fiction from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and a BA in American Studies from the University of Notre Dame. Her short fiction has appeared in Clackamas Literary Review, which garnered the deMaine Award for an Emerging Writer, with forthcoming work in Concho River Review. A Houston Press Club award recipient for magazine feature writing, Szczepanski also has published articles in the University of Houston’s Collegiummagazine and Houston Woman Magazine. Huffington Post’s reviewer praised her book Playing St. Barbara (High Hill Press, 2013) as “a stunning debut novel that shimmers with unforgettable characters while casting necessary light on a dark chapter in American history.” Named to the 2014 Houston Press roster of 100 Houston Creatives, she lives—where else?—in Houston, Texas.