Writing Diversity: Character, Not Caricature

I worked with Mystery Writers of America Midwest’s Secretary, Mia Manansala (photo below), in Chicago to present a workshop/ practicum on how writers can develop characters in their books  that are different from them.  We shared information about avoiding stereotypes (pause to be aware of implicit biases or filters); cultivating inclusion (read #ownvoices); building cultural competence (it’s a course of action not a course of study); avoiding default characters (not everyone is white, middle-class, and straight) and bringing humility to the writing process.  The attendees participated in a few exercises, and attendees walked away with the beginnings of a character profile for their next (or first) diverse character, and a packet of further reading.

MWA-U presentation

Mr. Pilot

This guy is my “default” airline pilot.  Default characters are a no-no

GenderUnicorn

The Unicorn graph can help us understand the LGBTQ gender/identity/expression spectrum.

Thank you! to the MWAMidwest Board for the opportunity.

What Golf Has Taught Me About Writing

I have always been a golfer even when I wasn’t.  My father played golf and he often watched the tournaments on television; I watched him watch golf, and play golf, and perhaps that is where my affinity for the game comes.  Golf is a sport filled with beauty, imagination and precision.   When one steps to the tee and looks onto an immaculately manicured, 300-yard fairway, it is an awe-inspiring view of soaring possibilities.   When one approaches the close-shaven turf of a green it is a challenge to succeed measured in inches. Continue reading

The Writing Life

AWP Adichie-Coates

Full House at AWP 2017 for Chimamanda Adichie & Ta-Nehisi Coates

I attended my second conference of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) this past week.  It is a very well attended gathering of students, administrators of MFA writing programs, publishers, scholars, and writers of all ilks.

I love the diversity of this conference in both its attendees, and the topics covered.  Hats off to the AWP organizers for the breadth of topics covered in the more than 300 sessions.

Somedays, I learned a little bit; other days, I learned a lot about the craft of writing.  That’s why I attended.  But the most important thing I gained was a renewed sense of my power and goals in writing.

Poets ruled this conference (and the world, I’ve come to realize).  As a fiction writer, I am inspired by poetry.

The immersion in the life of writing:  reading, pitching, crafting, researching, collaborating, encouraging, reviewing, critiquing, teaching and learning were the gifts I received during AWP.

Thank you!