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"Characters Who Don't Play Well With Others: Crafting Credible Antagonists" with Marian Szczepanski

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St. Edward's University, Trustee Hall 303
3001 S. Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78704

10/31/2015 From 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM

 We're sorry, but this class is currently at capacity. There will be no tickets sold at the door. Proof of purchase will be required to enter classroom. Questions? Please see our Classes page or call 512-499-8914.


Part of our November Novel Writing Series

$49 for members (log in for member pricing)

$109 for nonmembers

Before purchasing, please read all policies as noted below and on our Classes page.

Note: Online registration will close at the end of Thursday, October 29. After that you can pay admission at the door with a check for the walk up rate - $59 for members and $119 for nonmembers - as long as seats are available. Thank you!

What is the essential ingredient for a compelling narrative?

Trouble. And the people who make it.

Sympathetic characters are made much of in today’s literary circles. But what about the bad guys (or girls)? They lie and lust and lead the good guys (and girls) shockingly astray. At their worst, they’re the writer’s best friends, driving the plot by creating conflict, the linchpin of fiction. They deserve attention and thoughtful rendering on the part of the writer in order to reach their full potential as characters, rather than flimsy caricatures of evil.

In this class we’ll discuss the nature and purpose of antagonists in fiction and consider specific examples, both classic and contemporary, from Shakespeare to Daphne du Maurier to Cormac McCarthy. We’ll pay particular attention to the various ways in which they function and especially what makes them memorable and unique. We’ll also consider the challenges of writing about particularly heinous characters and their potential effect on readers. To fully benefit from the class, it’s highly recommended to read three stories in advance: “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor, “Victory Lap” by George Saunders, and “Child’s Play” by Alice Munro. All can be downloaded using the following links:

About the instructor:

Marian Szczepanski, author of the debut novel Playing St. Barbara (High Hill Press, 2013), holds an MFA in fiction from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and a BA in American Studies from the University of Notre Dame. Her short fiction has garnered the deMaine Award for an Emerging Writer from Clackamas Literary Review. She has received fellowships, grants, and awards from Hedgebrook, Vermont Studio Center, the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow, and the Houston Press Club. Named to the Houston Press roster of “100 Houston Creatives” for 2014, Marian teaches creative writing workshops in Houston at Writespace and beyond.


REGISTRATION BY MAIL: If your browser has difficulty with our website store, or if you prefer to mail in a check, click HERE for a class registration form. The document provides instructions on where to mail it.

NOTE: Tickets are not refundable, but they are transferable. If you purchase a ticket and then find you cannot attend, someone else can attend in your stead. Simply contact us at or 512-499-8914 and let us know so that we can update the class roster. For policies, please visit our Classes page.

This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department. Visit Austin at

Writers' League of Texas classes and workshops are also funded in part by the Texas Commission on the Arts - Investing in a Creative Texas. For more information, go to

The Writers' League of Texas would like to thank St. Edward's University for its generous support and commitment to community, ongoing education, and the arts. Visit