In fiction, we know that characters are the heart of any story. One can love them or one can hate them—both emotions coming from the same place: Interest. What makes a story a story is dynamic characters behaving badly or making unpopular decisions. The true question is how to get the reader to care about the choices these people make and be willing to follow them on a journey. This session is geared toward character development. The goal is to give participants the tools to craft complex, rounded characters. Come prepared to read and write!
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Nicole Dennis-Benn is the author of the debut novel, Here Comes the Sun (Norton/Liveright, July 2016). Dennis-Benn is a Lambda Literary Award winner. In addition, her debut novel has received much acclaim including: a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, a NPR Best Books of 2016, an Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Entertainment Weekly, and Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2016, a BuzzFeed Best Literary Debuts of 2016, among others. Dennis-Benn's debut novel has received a starred Kirkus Review and is deemed one of the best books to read this summer and beyond by New York Times, NPR, BBC, BuzzFeed, Book Riot, Bookish, Miami Herald, Elle, O Magazine, Marie Claire, Entertainment Weekly, Flavorwire, After Ellen, BookPage, Cosmopolitan, Brooklyn Magazine, among others. New York Times Book reviewer, Jennifer Senior describes Here Comes the Sun as a “lithe, artfully-plotted debut”; Pulitzer Prize finalist, Laila Lalami, as well as Booklist have deemed it a "fantastic debut"; and Man Booker Prize winner, Marlon James says “[Here Comes the Sun] is a story waiting to be told”. Dennis-Benn was shortlisted for the Texas Library Association 2017 Lariat. She has been named a finalist for Lambda Literary Award, the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Award , and The New York Public Library Young Lions Award.
Her work has appeared in The New York Times, ELLE Magazine, Electric Literature, Lenny Letter, Catapult, Red Rock Review, Kweli Literary Journal, Mosaic, Ebony, and the Feminist Wire.
Dennis-Benn has an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College where she now teaches as a Visiting Faculty in the MFA Fiction program; and has been awarded fellowships from MacDowell Colony, Hedgebrook, Lambda, Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, Hurston/Wright, and Sewanee Writers' Conference. She is also a Visiting Faculty at City College MFA Program.
Her writing has been awarded a Richard and Julie Logsdon Fiction Prize; and two of her stories have been nominated for the prestigious Pushcart Prize in Fiction.
Dennis-Benn was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. She lives with her wife in Brooklyn, New York.