Fiction | Workshop

6-Week Advanced Fiction Workshop: Developing Character

This course is designed for writers who would like to explore their characters deeper and develop their fictional worlds. Students will focus on one character for the duration of the course, and they will get to know their character through writing prompts and activities, which will be shared with the class for on-the-spot workshops. There will also be the opportunity to workshop one longer piece.

Each week, discussion and writing prompts will be themed to allow students to uncover different aspects of their character’s life: present timeline as well as past, how they experience love and desire, their obsessions and internal questions that form the story. Students will be introduced to passages from novels and short stories that illustrate the week’s theme. Throughout the course, students will be challenged to immerse themselves in their fictional worlds and character’s consciousness, while also becoming familiar with the fictional world of their peers, thus deepening the quality of workshop comments. 


- a deepened understanding of one's characters: figuring out external plot details as well as internal motivations, questions, and desires

- access to a nurturing community of writers and readers

- developing an eye for reading like a writer

- opportunity to workshop one longer piece and multiple shorter pieces throughout the course

- writing prompts assigned each week for in-class writing exercises as well as one take-home writing prompt designed specifically for each student's character

- a private conference with the instructor to discuss your writing, future goals, and areas for improvement

Fatima Farheen Mirza

Fatima Farheen Mirza is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Teaching-Writing Fellow. She has taught creative writing and fiction courses at the University of Iowa and at the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio. Awarded the Michener-Copernicus Fellowship in 2016 and The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research/Creative Achievement from The University of California, Riverside, she has also received residencies from The Marble House Project and The MacDowell Colony. Her debut novel will be published by SJP for Hogarth in 2019. 


“ Fatima is the most encouraging and good-hearted teacher I’ve ever had the pleasure of learning from. As an instructor, she is encouraging and kind, allowing room for students’ creative individuality while still guiding them through the writing process. Through helping young authors like myself create beautiful pieces of writing, she has an innate ability to foster a sense of confidence, creating lifelong writers. In the classroom she is confident and supportive, going out of her way to edit student writing and lend an ear. Her critique always gives way to stronger, more detailed writing pieces, and I feel any student would be beyond fortunate to have Fatima in the classroom.”

former student

“Fatima's mind is built for storytelling. She pushed me to explore my characters for a depth and complexity I did not know was there. Working with her has improved my fiction without question.”

former student

“I’ve been lucky to have the chance to work with several writers, but no one comes close to Fatima. Her ability to capture the truth on what it means to be human is incomparable, and she conveys this to her students in a caring and dedicated way. The care she takes in every piece is like that of a surgeon, and the passion she brings to teaching has changed my life. With her as your teacher, you’ll learn how to use your unique voice to the best of your ability, and she will make you give every detail meaning.”

former student

“To be taken hostage by Fatima Mirza’s heartrending and timely story is a gutting pleasure. It allows her reader to better understand what it means to reconcile one’s love of family and culture with a desire to find one’s own path, and one’s own faith. Ms. Mirza painstakingly details the life of an Indian Muslim family in America and their children’s search to feel whole, fulfilled, and content. She captures your mind and heart with an urgency that defies you to stop reading. I guarantee you will be different when you close the book.”

Sarah Jessica Parker