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Writers want their readers to read their work. Readers want to be captivated from the opening sentences. What specific ways of portraying a protagonist make these twin goals possible?
Love seems obvious. Love the character, read the book. But pity? Characters as diverse as Olive Kitteridge, Ma (in Room), Winnie the Pooh, Harry Potter, Lennie Small, Frodo Baggins, Jane Eyre, and Katniss Everdeen are all initially presented as pitiable. Why are we drawn to underdog characters? How can we write them realistically and compassionately?
Goldie Goldbloom is an Australian writer living in Chicago with her eight children. Her latest novel is On Division, which was launched on September 17, 2019 from Farrar Straus and Giroux. Her fifth book, Marguerite and Eleanor, is forthcoming in 2022, also with Farrar Straus and Giroux. Her fiction and nonfiction have received many prizes and awards, including from the National Endowment for the Arts, the City of Chicago, the Brown Foundation, Best Australian Short Stories, Le Monde and others. You can find her writing in many fine journals, including Ploughshares, The Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner and at NPR and Le Monde. Goldie teaches at the University of Chicago and in Northwestern University's MFA program for writers.