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Seminar: Achieving Catharsis

August 12, 2018 @ 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm


Catharsis is defined as a cleansing of emotions.  As a writing theory, it goes as far back as Aristotle’s Poetics.  But it’s actually simple to understand.   You know how sometimes you close the cover of a book or walk out of the theater, and you’ve laughed, you’ve cried, gone through the whole gamut of emotions with a character, and now you feel renewed?  That’s catharsis.  But as a writer, how do you give that experience to a reader?  How does a reader come to feel that they have fought and won and lost alongside or even through the character?  How do you design an ending that is satisfying, even if it is not 100% happy?  We will focus on matching up character arcs with plot events and reversals to achieve catharsis.  This interactive seminar, suitable for fiction writers, screenwriters and memoir writers, will also offer answers to:

  • What is pathos and why does a reader need to experience it to feel catharsis?
  • Why does the reader need to relate to the character on a basic human level to experience catharsis?
  • Why is catharsis easier to achieve if the character has been the underdog throughout the story?
  • What is the emotional color wheel, and why should I “paint” with all the colors?
  • How does the advice to show not tell relate to catharsis?
  • How can I describe internal physical sensation in a way that will put the reader inside my character?
  • How can I use point of view to determine how close people will get to my characters?
  • How can I determine if readers will find my ending unsatisfying?
  • If I’m writing about/fictionalizing real events, how can I shape the arcs so that they are still satisfying?


Writing Workshop Dallas


The Foundry Club
5307 E. Mockingbird Ln
Dallas, Texas 75206
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