Writing Neurodiverse Characters in Fiction and Memoir Zoom Seminar, Saturday, October 14th, 2023
Live Seminar Via Zoom Saturday, October 14th, 2023
Class will meet 12:00PM - 3:00PM EST
Open to All writers!
Any questions about this class? Use the Chat Button (lower left) to talk with us.
Taught by neurodiverse author, teacher, and family mental health advocate, Victoria Costello, an Emmy Award-winning writer of six published non-fiction books, including her memoir, A Lethal Inheritance, and a debut novel of autobiographical fiction, Orchid Child (June 2023).
On the Blog: When Your Characters Don’t Agree on the Nature of Reality: Help from Literary Theory and Brain Science by Victoria Costello
This one-time, three-hour seminar is designed for new and seasoned writers who are working on or conceptualizing a short story, novel or memoir featuring a neurodiverse character and/or theme.
Neurodiverse fictional characters and real people with mental or perceptual differences—a child or adult with autism, ADHD, OCD, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorder, PTSD, or extreme sensitivity—are no longer rare in novels and memoirs. What has changed is their portrayal. Characters who, one or two decades ago, were portrayed in a negative or one-dimensional manner are now showing up in novels and memoirs as unique individuals—with or without a specific diagnosis. No longer dependent on the perspective of a parent or sibling, they’re telling their own stories, whether in first or third person. These characters reflect every demographic and appear in a wide variety of literary genres. If you’re writing a neurodiverse character, this seminar will help you meet the threshold of authenticity for your character.
Using mini-lectures, readings from published works, and generative writing exercises, the instructor will cover the following topics.
- Creating an authentic neurodiverse character, with an emphasis on voice and point of view.
- Widening or narrowing a character’s range of sensory perceptions to reflect neurodiverse perspectives.
- Matching atypical thoughts with descriptions and dialogue
- Working with ‘unreliable’ narrators and fluid story structures.
- Telling a story without favoring one character’s definition of ‘reality’ over another.
- Dismantling stereotypes; seeking and responding to sensitivity readers.
Readings will include selections from Virginia Woolf, Julia Fine, Octavia Butler, Charlotte McConaghy, and the instructor’s debut novel Orchid Child, an Irish American family saga exploring intergenerational trauma and the intersection of neurodiversity and Celtic folklore.
Thank you so much for your encouragement and excellent suggestions and revisions, Victoria! —Diane G.
“Thank you, Victoria. You have given me the encouragement I needed to feel like this is a worthwhile project.” —Pat S.
“I had a really monumental class experience. I walked away with a solid start to a first chapter, and, for the first time, concrete ideas on how to plod forward.” —Sonya C.
“I got so much out of the class. It was informative and so much fun! It really infused some life back into me, which was the hope." —Alison L.
I had no idea what to expect from this class and was very pleasantly surprised when it felt like the right fit. The depth of the classes and the feedback from the classmates and your critique was insightful and helpful. Thank you for giving me a pleasing experience on my journey of writing. —Jonette S.
Thank you so much, Victoria! Your notes have been of great help to me. I also thank you for your warm words at the end. It was a pleasure for me too to be in this class. —Anca P.
Thank-you for all that you have shared. I have learned a lot and appreciate your time and mentoring. — Cynthia S.
As the author of an autobiographical novel in process, I've been greatly helped by Victoria's teaching on questions like how to portray living people, how to maintain dramatic tension, and who this story belongs to. She is a perceptive reader whose taste encompasses literary fiction and more popular work. As an instructor, she provides specific constructive suggestions on framing and word choice as well as pacing. She develops an esprit de corps within the class and encourages supportive yet discerning feedback on one another's work. —Diane Crothers, Brooklyn, New York
Our lives hold stories waiting to be told, and Victoria is helping me tell mine. She brings her professional experience as a memoirist and novelist and empathy born of her own life’s experiences to her teaching. With an eye for innovative details and suggestions for new approaches to bring a character to life, Victoria skillfully guides her students through the storytelling process, whether they be seasoned writers or newcomers to the craft. —Deborah Rothschild, Talent, Oregon
Victoria obviously knows her stuff! I found that the space she created in our class, and her guidance, to be supportive, insightful, and very helpful. As an author of memoir trying out new material, the class was invaluable. —Donna M. Thomas, Ashland, Oregon
- This online class is limited to 15 students.
- Instructor: Victoria Costello
- Live Seminar Via Zoom on Saturday, October 14th, 2023
- Class will meet 12:00PM - 3:00PM EST
Instructor Victoria Costello is an Emmy Award-winning writer, teacher, and the author of six published non-fiction books, including her memoir, A Lethal Inheritance, and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Memoir. Her debut novel of autobiographical fiction, Orchid Child, is forthcoming in June of 2023. She teaches writing at Southern Oregon University and for the online platform, Memoir University. See more of her work at victoriacostelloauthor.com