In this craft workshop, we’ll focus mainly on the depiction of character in narrative nonfiction—that is, how we create convincing characters from real people, living or dead; what rhetorical devices and narrative strategies we use in the depiction of character (identification, empathy, satire, detachment, even the techniques of fiction); how we may, or may not, include dialogue to enhance or deepen character; whether we should employ interpretation or exposition in our creation of character; and, overall, how a character can motivate a plot. We’ll also discuss what, if any, research we may need to do, or have done, to create “real” characters.

To accomplish all of this in a short period of time, and to critique and help to revise the prose of workshop members, we’ll need to read that prose in advance of our meetings so that we can prepare constructive critical responses to it. In addition, we’ll be reading brief essays or excerpts from other writers whose use of character may help us accomplish what we want to do: make people come alive on the page.


Note: This workshop is full. Please contact us if you wish to join the waitlist; do not make payment in the meantime. Winners of our named awards are guaranteed space in the workshop of their choice.

This workshop is open to all writers of nonfiction who, in some fashion, have used or will use or think about the depiction of character in prose. Before the workshop begins (date TBD), all participants will be expected to submit (via email) a nonfiction essay or piece of no more 15 pages (double-spaced), and to read the emailed submissions of all fellow workshop participants. A $100 deposit (fully refundable) is required to register for any workshop. The full cost of the workshop is $450.

About Brenda Wineapple

Brenda Wineapple’s books include White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award, a winner of the Washington Arts Club National Award for arts writing, and a New York Times “Notable Book.” She is also the author of Genêt: A Biography of Janet Flanner; Sister Brother Gertrude and Leo Stein; and Hawthorne: A Life, which received the Ambassador Award of the English-speaking Union for the Best Biography of 2003 and the Julia Ward Howe Prize from the Boston Book Club.

Wineapple’s awards and honors include a 2009 Pushcart Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies. She’s completing a narrative history of America, 1848-1877, a period when the country faced the crime of slavery and redefined the meaning of nation, and she is also writing a book on biography, to be published by Knopf. Formerly the director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography and Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at The Graduate School, CUNY, she has taught in the MFA programs at The New School, Columbia University, and Johns Hopkins.