S112. Writing Characters Who Buck Gender Norms

Room 404 AB, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level
Saturday, April 2, 2016
9:00 am to 10:15 am


In a market that tends to want fairy tales, and characters who conform to strict gender norms, how do we write characters who resist these stereotypes of what men and women are supposed to be? Are brainy and/or bossy female characters unsympathetic? If a male character is excessively romantic, has his believability been diminished? How do we write convincing characters, ones who do not reflect standard gender expectations, without triggering questions about the characters’ credibility?



Lucy Jane Bledsoe is the author of four novels, including The Big Bang Symphony. Her fiction has won a Yaddo fellowship, the Saturday Evening Post Fiction Prize, a California Arts Council Award, an American Library Association Stonewall Award, and two National Science Foundation Writer Fellowships.

William Lung is an MFA student and adjunct lecturer at the City College of New York, where he has twice been awarded the Stark Short Fiction Prize. A former fiction fellow at the Lambda Literary Foundation’s Writers Retreat for Emerging Voices, his work appears in two LLF anthologies.

Nicole Y. Dennis-Benn's writing delves into gender, sexuality, and the intersection of culture, class, and religion. Two of her stories have been nominated for the 2016 Pushcart Prize in Fiction. She's a 2015 MacDowell Colony Fellow, and a 2014 Lambda Foundation Emerging Writing Fellow.

Lydia Conklin is the creative writing fellow in fiction at Emory University. She has received a Pushcart Prize, work-study scholarships from Bread Loaf, and fellowships from MacDowell and Yaddo. Her fiction has appeared in the Southern Review, Narrative magazine, New Letters, and elsewhere.

Erin Judge is a writer and stand-up comic who lives in LA and performs all over the world. Her debut novel, Vow of Celibacy, tells the story of Natalie, a young bi woman confronting her complicated feelings about her body, her sexual history, and her thwarted career aspirations.


March 8–11, 2023
Seattle, Washington

Washington State Convention Center