Deep Dive Into Diverse Characters

Deep Dive Into Diverse Characters header image showing instructors Nisi Shawl, Piper J Drake, and K Tempest Bradford

When: January 31 – February 29, 2020
Where: Online — Available everywhere and at your own pace
Price: $400

Representation is fundamental to writing great fiction. Creating characters that reflect of the diversity of the world we all live in is important for all writers and creators of fictional narratives. But writers often find it difficult to represent people whose gender, sexual orientation, racial heritage, or other aspect of identity is very different from their own. This can lead to fear of getting it wrong–horribly, offensively wrong–and, in the face of that, some think it’s better to not even try.

But representation is too important to ignore. And it is possible to write characters who represent the “Other” sensitively and convincingly. This four week course will provide authors  with a solid foundation in how to craft characters from any background, no matter how different they are from you.

Writers Nisi Shawl, Piper J. Drake, and K. Tempest Bradford will dive deep into character creation with writing exercises, discussion, and lectures on intersectionality, character relationships, avoiding stereotypes and tropes, and depicting people from different genders, sexualities, classes, ethnicities, ability levels, and religious backgrounds.

In addition to instruction from Shawl, Drake, and Bradford, students will have access to the video and resources from three Writing the Other Master Classes (a $150 value):

Students will come away with resources for further study and access to a sensitivity reader database.

This Class Is Part Of
Year of Writing Inclusively

Course Format and Time Commitment

The class does not have set meeting times. You can access lectures, other class materials, and group discussions at any time from anywhere in the world as long as you have an Internet connection. All class discussions will take place in a private online forum and all class work is done on Google Drive. 

The time commitment each week will depend on your level of participation. Lectures (posted as text) and homework go live on weekends. Discussions based on lectures, homework, and Master Classes (videos of about an hour) will take place during the week. Discussion threads tend to be wide-ranging, so students should try to check in at least once a day or every other day and set aside up to an hour for participation. You may manage your time as needed based on your own schedule. 

Each student will also have the opportunity to meet with one of the instructors for an optional 30 minute video chat session in addition to discussions on the forum.

Required Texts

Please buy the following texts before class begins.


The class takes place in a private WordPress forum with a theme designed for accessibility. Homework files will be available through Google Drive. Some class material will be in the form of video lectures. Each has closed captions and a text transcript is available. One-on-ones with instructors will take place via Zoom video conferencing. The class mailing list will be through Google Groups. All of these services are accessible to students using screen readers.

If you have questions about potential needs, or if there are any other ways we can make a class accessible for you, please contact us before registering and we’ll answer within 24 hours.

Other than a computer, the only other technical requirement for the class is a Google account. If you don’t have one, you can create a free one just for this class.

Who Should Take This Class?

Writers of all genres — Literary, YA, Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Children’s Books, Romance — and all mediums — Prose, Playwriting, Screenwriting, Comics/Graphic Novels, Games — at any point in their career from newbie to professional. This class is designed so that any writer who wants to write inclusive fiction well and create characters who aren’t caricatures will find it beneficial.

Payment Plans, Sliding Scale, and Scholarship Opportunities

If you can pay for the class but need to pay in installments we have payment plans available. Requirements:

  1. You must be able to pay at least $50 to secure your spot in the class.
  2. You must be able to pay in full by January 26th, 2020.

If you meet these two criteria, please email to register. 

If you can afford to pay for part but not all of the class, we have Sliding Scale/Pay What You Can Afford enrollment. Under this plan you can pay any amount, but we do request that you pay at least $50. To request a sliding scale spot, please fill out this form by 11:59PM Pacific January 12th. We’ll let you know the status of your application by January 19th at the latest.

If you do not have the financial means to pay for this class, we encourage you to apply for a Vonda N. McIntyre Sentient Squid Scholarship. We have several spots set aside for scholarship applicants and a broad definition of financial need that ranges from writers who do not have the money at all to writers who have the funds but can’t afford to use them for a writing class. Please don’t hesitate to apply wherever you exist on that spectrum. (Still not sure whether you should apply? Read this post.

To apply, please fill out this form. You’ll be asked to provide:

  • A brief (300 or fewer words) statement of financial need.
  • A brief (500 or fewer words) description of a work or works in progress that you hope the class will help you write.
  • A writing sample of 1000 or fewer words. This can be an excerpt from a longer work or flash fiction, from something published or unpublished, as long as it represents what you feel is your best work.
  • If you identify as a Person of Color, Native American, or First Nations, you may indicate that if you wish, though it’s not a requirement. (We set aside some scholarship spots specifically for students who identify as POC or Native, though we do not limit the number of scholarships we’ll give to POC or Native applicants.)

Deadline: 11:59PM Pacific January 12, 2020. We will notify all applicants of their standing by January 19th. If you have any questions, please use our contact form to ask!

Refund Policy

If you find that you need to drop the class, you may do so by contacting our GMail or emailing via the website.

If you drop by December 31, 2019 , you will receive a full refund minus a service fee.

If you drop by January 5th, you will receive an 80% refund minus a service fee plus a chance to enroll in future Writing the Other Master Classes at a discount before general tickets go on sale.

If you drop by January 12, you will receive an 40% refund minus a service fee plus a chance to enroll in future Writing the Other Master Classes at a discount before general tickets go on sale.

If you drop on January 19th or after you will not have your registration fee refunded. However, you will be able to enroll in a future class for a discount.

The Year of Writing Inclusively

This is the first in a series of five core Writing the Other courses covering every top-level issue authors face when they set out to write inclusive, diverse fiction. For a limited time, we’re offering a discount to students who pre-pay for two, three, or four of the Year of Writing Inclusively classes. You can save from $50 to $500 on registration fees and guarantee yourself a spot in this and the other courses. 

To get the discount and more details, click here.

Register Below

Giving this class as a gift? Start the order process as normal. In the order confirmation form there will be an option to mark the registration as a gift.

If you have a discount or code to access tickets, please click “Enter Promo Code” in the box below before you begin the registration process.