Meet the Teaching Artist: Mastering Characterization to Elevate Your Writing with Nadia Uddin
by Writing Workshops Staff
A week ago
We are thrilled to introduce you to instructor Nadia Uddin, a Yale Writers’ Workshop graduate and author of the novel, Edison in the Hood. Leveraging her rich background in crafting deep and dynamic characters, Nadia is the guiding force behind our upcoming 4-week course, Mastering Characterization to Elevate Your Writing.
In this course, Nadia plans to demystify the elements of characterization, unveiling the layers that build memorable characters in literary works. Over four weeks, the course promises to immerse participants in the world of character creation through the narration, dialogue, interaction, and interiority.
Participants will learn how to craft characters that are not just fascinating but resonate with realism and depth. Nadia's class will also addresses the representation of diverse characters, imbuing sensitivity and accuracy in their depiction.
Whether it's nurturing a character for your upcoming novel or infusing life into a short story, Nadia's workshop will help you sow the seeds of dynamic characterization, promising a harvest of rich and diverse characters rooted in understanding and skill. Join us to explore the boundless landscapes of characterization under the guided expertise of Nadia Uddin.
Hi, Nadia. Please introduce yourself to our audience.
Hi, I’m Nadia. I love all things writing--novels, short stories, screenplays, recipes, poems, you name it! My debut novel, Edison in the Hood, has won the National Indie Excellence Award for Science Fiction and the IPPY Award in Silver for Urban Fiction. I'm excited to bring all that I've learned along the way to my class.
What made you want to teach this specific class? Is it something you are focusing on in your own writing practice? Have you noticed a need to focus on this element of craft? Or is this just your jam and you love it?
All books get evaluated by their characters. Read any Goodreads review, and the first thing they’ll talk about is whether or not they liked your characters. Given the subjectivity involved when relating to a character, a writer can often get derailed in the early stages of their draft if they work off such one-dimensional feedback. In this course I want to take writers through exercises that allow them to really look inside themselves to create someone who is genuine and real, while not focusing on the likeability of the character.
A lot of writers get nervous or fearful when writing about an experience they haven’t been through. I want writers to give themselves license and freedom to develop characters that are true to their heart and who have been through anything. To truly master characterization, writers must evolve their own perception of the world by teaching themselves how to really see people without judgment and only compassion.
Give us a breakdown of how the course is going to go. What can the students expect? What is your favorite part about this class you've dreamed up?
The class will be part therapy, part knowledge sharing, part technical, and part spiritual. Get ready to dig deep within yourself to master characterization. Students can expect to read examples from all sorts of genres and channels, get a dose of craft elements, share their work, and grow collectively. We’re only going to succeed if we can have fun!
What was your first literary crush?
So many…Nabokov, Coetzee, Morrison, Marilynne Robinson, Ursula K. LeGuin. I guess I'm a floosey when it comes to literary crushes.
What are you currently reading?
How do you choose what you're working on? When do you know it is the next thing you want to write all the way to THE END?
I’m always looking for ways to flex my writing muscles. I recently took a poetry class, which completely overwhelmed me (there are so many tools!!), but it forced me to write a poem. And I also just completed the screenplay adaptation of my novel. I had to give myself a goal and push my way through. Writing the screenplay really took a lot out of me, but when it was done, I felt so accomplished and became a better writer. A former screenplay professor of mine offered to give it a read--it was my biggest motivation to finish--so I just sent my draft to her this past weekend. I can rest a bit while she reviews it, but I can’t wait to hear what she says. If a professional offers to read your work, don’t pass it up! But make sure you put in a lot of work into it before you send over, as you want to present the best you can produce at that moment.
For the novel I’m working on now, I’m starting with the purpose. In this case, I want to bring to light the horrible world of child and people trafficking that is happening in plain sight. However, I want to challenge myself and write it in the first person and make it funny. The more ridiculous it sounds, the more exciting it is to me.
Where do you find inspiration?
Writing is my voice, so any issue or gripe or wonderful experience that I can share to make the world a better place inspires me. Everything I write needs purpose for me.
What is the best piece of writing wisdom you've received that you can pass along to our readers? How did it impact your work? Why has this advice stuck with you?
“Know thyself” is so critical when writing or even navigating this thing called life. Just as you are unique and unlike anyone else exactly, so is your writing. I want to read one paragraph and know who wrote it. Throughout my entire writing education (which continues, always), finding my voice propels my abilities as a writer. When you know yourself, then you’re free to experiment, grow, and create.
What is your favorite book to recommend on the craft of writing? Why this book?
Grammar By Diagram: Understanding English Grammar Through Traditional Sentence Diagramming by Cindy L. Vitto was life-changing. It’s more of a technical book, but truly grasping grammar (beyond the Oxford comma) expands your tool set as a writer. Also all of Charles Baxter’s craft books are great to understand the rules of writing. It took me a while to figure out that all rules can be broken, as long as you show that you know the rules. Such knowledge takes you from trope to dope.
Bonus question: What’s your teaching vibe?
Interactive, fun, challenging, productive. Let’s make the best of our time together!
Learn More About Working with Nadia:
You can learn more about Nadia's upcoming 4-Week Zoom class, Mastering Characterization to Elevate Your Writing, and sign up now!
Join Nadia in this journey to explore new dimensions in writing and enhance your craft!
Instructor Nadia Uddin is the author of the novel Edison in the Hood, Winner of the 17th Annual National Indie Excellence® Award for Science Fiction, IPPY's 2023 Silver Medal in Urban Fiction, and Slice's Bridging the Gap Award. Nadia is a graduate of Yale Writers’ Workshop. She resides in Brooklyn with her family and is working on her second novel.