I asked them to determine what their protagonist most feared in this world. I told them I didn't mean snakes or spiders. No, I meant his or her deepest social fear. The one situation they most dreaded experiencing. The one event they would prefer to die than have to face. Then I told them they should maneuver their protagonist into exactly that situation to see what happens---if, in fact, he or she is destroyed by it, or is changed by it and in what ways. Everyone in class knew what doing that would require. They knew what I was asking of them. They would have to delve deeply into the most tender, raw, and painful places in themselves and identify their own deepest social fears.
|JAMES ALAN McPHERSON|