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Joyce Carol Oates on Developing Realistic Characters

‘If you allow your people to talk, they will express themselves in a way that the writer might not have thought of.’
Joyce Carol Oates is the critically acclaimed author of over forty novels including The Falls and We Were the Mulvaneys. In this video recorded by, Oates discusses how a writer can develop realistic characters, using examples from her 2007 novel The Gravedigger’s Daughter. She also outlines a useful creative writing exercise that she provides her students.

View the full length video (51 minutes) 

Joyce Carol Oates on Developing Realistic CharactersAbout Joyce Carol Oates
Joyce Carol Oates has won the National Medal of Humanities, the National Book Critics Circle Lifetime Achievement Award, the Chicago Tribune Lifetime Achievement Award and the  PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys, Blonde and The Falls, which won the 2005 Prix Femina. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978. Her most recent novel is The Accursed, published in March 2013.
The University of San Francisco website has an extensive archive of of Oates’s writing, manuscripts and reviews. Oates is also an Twitter and can be followed at @JoyceCarolOates


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