Our morning seminar was Jason Ockert on writing idiosyncratic characters. How does one go about moving a reader? Balance between writing familiar and distinctive. That which is relatable and that which is somehow unfamiliar. Who cares about idiosyncratic characters? For Ockert it’s rudimentary. He has a terrible memory: the great thing about literature is the stuff he can’t forget. Distinctive things are easiest to remember.
He gave us a writing exercise: Cards with phobias on them from which we were to write a character without necessarily employing the name of the phobia directly. On the whiteboard, Ockert summarized his talk as:
1. Good writing is capable of moving the reader
2. Write what will be remembered
3. The writer should concern him/herself with writing that is both familiar and distinctive.
4. Character quirks exist everywhere because we live in a weird fucking world.
5. Treat your strange characters with kindness.
We continued with workshops and then I attended student seminars from Nicholas Halley and Ryan McConkey. Our final seminar of the day was a rerun of Enid Shomer’s seminar from last January.
The evening’s readings were Erica Dawson and Alan Michael Parker.