Before & After: Creating Character in Fiction and Memoir


There is great tension and conflict in the events by which we mark time, saying “before” and “after.” These might be births, deaths, divorces, accidents, moves—anything, large or seemingly small, that create a shift in how we see, understand and live in the world. 

Considering this concept in the development of fictional characters helps the writer establish the time frame of a story, discover moments worthy of scenes, and shape effective flashbacks under underpin the action in present time. We are all main characters in our own lives, and those who want to write personal essays or memoirs will find the concept invaluable in helping them identify moments that best reflect their personal history and find focus in their work. Participants in this class will engage in writing and thinking exercise to identify the markers in their characters’ or their own lives and explore strategies for developing them into compelling scenes that will be building blocks for their novels, stories or memoirs.


Who should take this class? Open to high school students and adults. Beginning  and advanced writers of fiction, nonfiction and poetry are welcome.

When is this class offered? This class is offered for one session on Thursday, Oct. 3  from 6-8:30 p.m. at MatchBOX Coworking Studio in Lafayette. The class costs $40.

 Who is the Instructor? Barbara Shoup is the author of eight novels for adults and young adults, most recently An American Tune, and Looking for Jack Kerouac. She is the the co-author of Novel Ideas: Contemporary Authors Share the Creative Process and Story Matters. Her short fiction, poetry, essays and interviews have appeared in numerous small magazines, as well as in The Writer and The New York Times travel section. 

Shoup is the recipient of numerous grants from the Indiana Art Commission, two creative renewal grants from the Arts Council of Indianapolis, the 2006 PEN Phyllis Reynolds Naylor Working Writer Fellowship and the 2012 Eugene and Marilyn Glick Regional Indiana Author Award. Her young adult novels, Wish You Were Here and Stranded in Harmony were selected as American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults.  Vermeer’s Daughter was a School Library Journal Best Adult Book for Young Adults. 

Barbara Shoup graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and master’s degree in secondary education. She taught creative writing to high school students for more than twenty years. Currently, she is the Executive Director of the Indiana Writers Center and a creative writing faculty member of Art Workshop International in Assisi. To learn more about Barb, visit her website