Bret Anthony Johnston
Director of the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas, Austin
Bret Anthony Johnston is the author of the internationally best-selling novel Remember Me Like This, which was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and one of the five best of the year around the world. He is also the author of the award-winning Corpus Christi: Stories, and the editor of Naming the World and Other Exercises for the Creative Writer. His work appears in The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Paris Review, The Best American Short Stories, and elsewhere. He wrote the documentary film Waiting for Lightning, which was released in theaters around the world by Samuel Goldwyn Films, and in 2017, he won The Sunday Times Short Story Award, “the world’s richest and most prestigious prize for a short story.” After directing the creative writing program at Harvard University for over a decade, he is now the Director of The Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas, Austin.
2021 Virtual Workshops:
Straight Outta Character
This course will be a hands-on and practical exploration of how writers create characters in narrative. Using classic and contemporary examples of dynamic characters and a good many craft-based writing exercises, we will develop strategies and techniques to create nuanced characters in our own work. We will consider how other elements of successful narratives are formed and informed by choices of character. If character is fate, and of course it is, then character is also plot, setting, and point-of-view. Our goal is to find the means to surrender to our characters, to find the courage to let them quicken to life in our and our readers’ imagination, and to find the faith to follow—rather than lead—them through the stories that they’re using us to tell.
The Point of Point of View
In this course, we will look at the nuts and bolts of POV. We will consider the pros and cons of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-Person perspectives, and we’ll explore how to more fully inhabit the consciousnesses of our POV characters. We will complete exercises and come away from the class with a variety of new tools to use in constructing extraordinarily deep points of view.