Deep Dive Intensive: Creating Diverse Characters

deep dive intensive - creating diverse characters

When: June 12 – 20, 2021
Where: Online via Zoom or Asynchronous classroom, accessible at your own pace
Price: $200 – $300
Scholarships Available

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 course will provide writers with a solid foundation in how to craft characters from any background, no matter how different they are from you.

Authors 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 Students will come away with resources for further study.

Add-On at a Discount: Early Registration for Charting Your Character’s Arc with Stant Litore

This year we’re offering a new seminar on character arcs. Register for both the Diverse Characters class and this online seminar below and get $25 off the price for Charting Your Character’s Arc ($75).

Riveting, evocative storytelling hinges on the choices your characters make. These pivotal choices are not necessarily the high action moments in your plot, but they are the moments that define who your character is and becomes. By charting a handful of critical moments of choice in your story, by examining the pressures and risks at each moment, by taking into account how your character’s identities inform their actions, and by understanding deeply how your character pushes against their history and environment at each step, you can create a powerful mini-outline.

This character arc outline can empower you to ask more strategic questions about your plot, pacing, sequence of scenes, your dramatic tension, what clues you provide the reader and when, and about your character’s agency, identity, and journey.

In this one day Zoom seminar (July 17 from 9am to 3:30pm Pacific), author Stant Litore will walk you through how to chart your character arc in a way that allows you to use that arc as a potent tool for revision. By the end you will be in a better position to identify where you’ve left gaps, where you’ve taken too long, and where there are additional opportunities for both nuance and suspense in your character’s journey as they struggle to become (or remain) who they need to be.

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.

Course Format, Schedule, and Time Commitment

Please read carefully as there are two options available for this class and they are different from previous versions of the diverse character deep dive.

Option 1: Asynchronous ($200) — Writers who cannot join us for the live Weekend Intensive can chose this option. Starting June 12 you’ll have access to the private WordPress classroom where we will post lectures in text form and the recordings of the sessions. Starting on the 14th we’ll post readings, discussions, and more writing exercises (some of which instructors will offer feedback on). For this option you can log in at any time and participate on your schedule.

The time commitment for the Asynchronous portion of the class will depend on your level of participation. Discussions based on lectures, short readings, and writing exercises 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. You may manage your time as needed based on your own schedule. 

Option 2: Weekend Intensive Plus ($300) — On Saturday and Sunday June 12 & 13 students will gather virtually on Zoom (see detailed schedule below) for lectures, Q&A, discussion, and writing exercises with live feedback. From Monday June 14 through Friday the 18th students can log in to a private WordPress forum for further discussions based on readings and more writing exercises. This section of the class is asynchronous, meaning you can log in at any time and participate on your schedule.

This option is limited to 25 students.

The Weekend Intensive Plus schedule (times in Pacific):

Saturday | June 12

10am – 12pm
Session 1

12:15pm – 1:45pm
Session 2

1:45pm – 2:30pm | Big Break

2:30pm – 4:00pm
Session 3

4:05pm – 5:05pm
Session 4

5:10pm – 7pm
Session 5

Sunday | June 13

10am – 12pm
Session 1

12:15pm – 1:45pm
Session 2

1:45pm – 2:30pm | Big Break

2:30pm – 4:00pm
Session 3

4:05pm – 6pm
Session 4

Click here to convert to your time zone.

On the last weekend, June 19 & 20, there will be a set of Q&A sessions with the instructors on Zoom open to all students. (Times will be determined by student availability.)

All class work is done on Google Drive, so please ensure you have a Google account before class. 

Required Texts

Please buy the following texts before class begins.


The class takes place in Zoom and in a private WordPress with a theme designed for accessibility. Homework files will be available through Google Drive. We will provide closed captions auto-generated by Rev during the Zoom sessions. Some class material will be in the form of video lectures. Each has closed captions and a text transcript is available. 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.

Full and Partial Scholarship Opportunities

Scholarships are available for both the Weekend Intensive Plus and Asynchronous class options.

If you do not have the financial means to pay for all or part of the registration cost for the class, we encourage you to apply.  We have 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. We especially encourage writers who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to apply. Wherever you exist on the financial needs spectrum, don’t self reject! (Still not sure whether you should apply? Read this post.)

IMPORTANT: We set aside scholarship spots ahead of opening registration. Even if this class sells out before the deadline, scholarship spots are still reserved. If you plan to apply for a scholarship you do not need to register for the class below.

If you can afford to pay for part but not all of the registration fee, please apply for a partial scholarship. Under this financial aid plan you can let us know the amount you can afford. If you cannot afford to pay at all, please apply for a full scholarship. 

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 customarily identify as Black, Native American, First Nations, or any other identity that falls under the Person of Color umbrella, 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 BIPOC, though we do not limit the number of scholarships we’ll give to BIPOC applicants.)

Deadline: 11:59PM Pacific May 23, 2021. We will notify all applicants of their standing by May 30. 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 requesting a refund via Eventbrite.

If you drop by May 29th, you will receive a full refund minus a service fee.

If you drop on May 30th or after you will not have your registration fee refunded. However, you can use the funds as credit towards a future class.

Register Below

If you have a Gift Card, discount, or code to access tickets, please click the “Enter promo code” link in the Registration box below before you begin the process. If the box below gives you trouble, click here to register on our Eventbrite page.