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Writing Workshops

Paint by Number: Simple Ways to Build Powerful Characters & Scenes with Sahar Mustafah


1 Session

In stock

Sunday, 12:00 pm EDT - 4:30 pm EDT June 9, 2024

Online via Zoom

Are you beginning a new story—or in the middle of one and already losing steam? Looking for ways to develop well-rounded, compelling characters and robust scenes? In this introductory workshop, we will explore the basics of nurturing strong characters and fleshing out vivid scenes.

Course Outline
  • Introduction/Ice-Breaker
  • Exploring the Origin Stories of Our Characters:
    • Investigating the “Foundational Wound”
    • Creating a timeline of major events
  • Infusing Joy
    • Incorporating moments/patterns of happiness
  • POV
    • Experimenting with shifting point of view to enlarge lens on major and minor characters
  • Optimizing Space and Objects
    • Taking stock of physical space and relevant objects
    • Food
    • Cultural/identity markers
    • Living and functional spaces
  • Quickfire Starts
    • Tools to instantly create or re-enter scenes
    • POV
    • Dialogue
    • Tense and fraught spaces

Led by

  • Sahar Mustafah_Bio Photo - Sahar Mustafah

    Sahar Mustafah

    Sahar Mustafah

    Sahar Mustafah is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, an inheritance she explores in her fiction. Her first novel The Beauty of Your Face (W.W. Norton, 2020) was named a 2020 Notable Book and Editor’s Choice by New York Times Book Review, a Los Angeles Times United We Read selection, and one of Marie Claire magazine’s 2020 Best Fiction by Women. It was longlisted for The Center for Fiction 2020 First Novel Prize, and was a finalist for the Palestine Book Awards. It has been adopted by several university and high school curricula across the country, and translated into Arabic, Italian, and is forthcoming in Turkey. Her short story collection Code of the West was the winner of the 2016 Willow Books Fiction Prize. Most recently, her short story “Star of Bethlehem” was awarded the Lawrence Prize for Best Fiction in 2022 by Prairie Schooner, and her short story “Tree of Life” won the 2023 Robert J. DeMott Prize, selected by author Kirstin Valdez Quade. Mustafah was awarded a 2023 Jack Hazard Fellowship from New Literary Project. She writes and teaches outside of Chicago.