Writing Fat Characters Master Class with Marianne Kirby and Meg Elison

When: April 21 – May 7, 2023
Where: Online — Available everywhere and at your own pace
Price: $150

Fat characters in fictional narratives often fall into two categories. Most are negative portrayals where fatness represents moral failings or villainous tendencies. Seemingly “positive” portrayals emphasize weight loss narratives, self-loathing, or fatness as a limitation imposed on the self. In this Master Class authors Marianne Kirby and Meg Elison will help you move beyond these kinds of tropes and create characters with big bodies that constitute good representation.

Topics include:

  • Why we use the term “Fat”.
  • Identifying and avoiding overdone stereotypes and tropes about fat people.
  • Types of fat experiences we need more of in fiction and media.
  • How to write a fat body.

This Master Class includes a 2 hour long video lecture, a 2 week long asynchronous Q&A/discussion of the topic with Marianne Kirby and Meg Elison, and writing exercises to get you started. Students will come away with resources for further study.

Attending Class & Schedule

At the beginning of the course all students will receive the lecture video to watch on their own schedule. In the following two weeks students will discuss the issues brought up in the lecture with all instructors as well as ask detailed questions via a private forum. The course does not have set meeting times. You can access class material and discussion and participate in class at any time, day or night, from anywhere in the world, as long as you have an Internet connection. 


The lecture video is closed captioned and transcribed; the text will be available to all students. The private forum uses WordPress with a theme specifically geared to accessibility and compatibility with screen readers. We strive to make all classes as accessible as possible, but if you need any extra considerations or have a question about accessibility, please contact us.

Who Should Take This Master 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. These classes are designed so that any writer who wants to write inclusive fiction well and create characters who aren’t caricatures will find them beneficial.

However, if you haven’t taken a Writing the Other class before, you should read the book and get through as many of the resources offered on our website before the Master Class begins. 

Full and Partial Scholarship Opportunities

Thanks to the generosity of donors and the continued support of our Patreon backers we are offering 10 full and partial Vonda N. McIntyre Sentient Squid Scholarships for this class.

If you do not have the financial means to pay for all or part of the registration cost for this 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.)

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 by 11:59PM Pacific April 7, 2023. You’ll be asked to provide:

  • A brief (300 or fewer words) statement of financial need. If you’re applying based on COVID-19 financial hardship, we will not ask you to provide proof of impact.
  • A brief (500 or fewer words) description of a work or works in progress that you hope the class will help you create.
  • If you identify as Black, Indigenous, Native American, First Nations, or any other Persons of Color, or if you identity as Palestinian or of Palestinian heritage, 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 or Palestinian, though we do not limit the number of scholarships we’ll give to these  applicants.

Deadline: 11:59PM Pacific April 7, 2023We will notify all applicants of their standing by April 14. 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 April 7, you will receive a full refund minus a service fee.

If you drop on April 8 or after you will not have your registration fee refunded. However, you will be able to use the registration fee as credit for future classes.

Register Below

If you have a Gift Card, discount, Alumni code, or other 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.