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Crime Fiction Academy

How to Write Character-Driven Plot with Lauren Wilkinson (Sold Out)


3 Sessions via Zoom

Out of stock

Once a week Thursdays, 6:00 pm EST - 8:00 pm EST February 18 to March 4, 2021

This workshop has reached its capacity. To join the waitlist, please email Thierry Kehou at

Do you struggle with plot? Do you know what your characters look like, and how they behave, but can’t seem to get them to do anything? One way of resolving this issue is by thinking about your characters in terms of what they want. This is the approach we’ll be taking in this class.

We’ll analyze how, precisely, a given protagonist’s desires dictate the plot of a story. To do this we’ll be reading work by writers such as S.A. Cosby, John Fram, and Steph Cha. Students often express the concern that overemphasizing plot will rob their work of literary merit and focusing too much on character will make their story boring—but in this class you’ll find there are many ways to balance plot and characterization.

This workshop is open to students of all experience levels and to stories with any amount of action. You’ll be free to work on a quiet family drama, or a story chock-full of explosions and car wrecks, so long as you are receptive to creating emotional stakes that are as high as is appropriate for the nature of your story. To accomplish this, you’ll be asked to clearly articulate your protagonist’s desires and who or what is getting in the way of what they want. This information will serve as a guide while you’re writing.

Please keep in mind that participation is mandatory. Everyone (including myself) will be expected to meaningfully comment on each story presented to the class. The end goal of the workshop is for participants to develop a more nuanced understanding of character motivation and more confidence in their ability to plot a story.

All Levels
Capacity: 20

This workshop will take place online via Zoom. Participants will receive instructions for access prior to the first session.


Led by

  • Lauren Wilkinson - Credit to Niqui Carter

    Lauren Wilkinson

    Lauren Wilkinson

    Lauren Wilkinson’s debut novel, American Spy, was a Washington Post bestseller, an NAACP Image Award nominee, an Anthony award nominee, and an Edgar Award nominee. It was shortlisted for The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, was a Barnes & Noble Book of the Month, a PBS book club pick, and was included on Barack Obama’s 2019 Recommended Reading List. Lauren earned an MFA in fiction and literary translation from Columbia University, and has taught writing at Columbia and the Fashion Institute of Technology. She was a Center for Fiction Emerging Writer Fellow, and has received support from both the MacDowell Colony and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. Her writing has appeared in Granta, the Believer, New York magazine and the New York Times, among other publications. Lauren splits her time between New York and Los Angeles where she works as a writer for television.