A white woman in her mid-forties, with dark brown hair and blue eyes, wearing a green scarf around her neck.




Erin Almond published her first novel, Witches’ Dance, with Lanternfish Press, in October 2019. Her fiction, essays, and reviews have appeared in The Boston Globe, Colorado Review, Literary Mama, Normal School, WBUR’s cognoscenti column, and The She is a graduate of the UC-Irvine MFA program and Wesleyan University, a recipient of a St. Botolph Foundation Emerging Artists Grant, and a finalist for the Barbara Deming Money for Women memorial fund. Erin lives outside Boston with her husband, Steve, and their three children.


Read more about Erin on her site.

SESSION: Desires, Fears, Urges & Inhibitions: Narrating Your Characters’ Fantasy Lives

As writers, we’re already personally familiar with how it feels to be moving through one reality in the physical world while our minds are often somewhere else – but how do you narrate such a scenario for your characters? We’ll take a look at a wide range of literary characters with active fantasy lives to answer this question. Walter Mitty is the classic example, but we’ll also look at additional historic and contemporary examples of literary characters whose reality is deeply affected by their fantasy lives. We’ll also study examples of non-fiction – like the best-selling memoir Educated – in which the narrative is propelled partly by the tension between the fantasy upheld by the author’s family and her experiences in the “real” world.

Along the way we’ll discuss how illuminating characters’ fantasy lives is a kind of hack. Why? Because accessing their fantasies allows you to convey your characters’ deepest fears and desires, urges and inhibitions, through the stories they dream up. You’re not stuck having characters think explicitly about their fears and desires — instead, they tell themselves a story that reveals aspects of their interior life that they, themselves, might be blind to. Whether it’s Sylvia Plath imagining herself as a fig tree or George Saunders’ lonely barber crafting elaborate erotic daydreams that fall apart even in his imagination, giving your characters active fantasy lives is a great way to reveal interiority, create tension between characters with competing fantasies, and propel your plot forward.