literature & poetry

Navigating Otherness: A Creative Writing Course

How do we write different perspectives from our own?

Over six weeks, this thought-provoking course led by writer Sharlene Teo explores ways of navigating and presenting characters in fiction by confronting our biases, privileges and stereotyped perceptions.

In this exploratory space, improve your ability to view your work critically and make deliberate decisions about your writing. Develop characters and step outside your comfort zone through private and shared writing exercises and interactive challenges.

This course is open to all abilities. An open-minded approach and willingness to listen to and learn from fellow participants is essential.

Teo's debut novel Ponti won the Deborah Rogers Writer's Award and was shortlisted for the Hearst Big Book Award and the Edward Stanford Fiction Award. She has taught creative writing workshops for the University of East Anglia and the British Centre for Literary Translation and her work has appeared in publications such as the TLS, LitHub and The Second Shelf.

Course overview
Session 1: Introductions: Troubling the Bubble
Examining traits that are often associated with particular character types, and other internalised ideas from fiction. Troubling our subjective bubbles and assumed identity positions of heroes and the ‘everyman’.

Session 2: Circumventing Stereotypes
Tackling conscious and unconscious biases to avoid stereotypical characterisation. Marginalisation of ‘the other’, from sidekicks and fetishised love interests to cartoon antagonists.

Session 3: Gender Stereotypes: Upending the White Straight Male Canon
Manic pixie dream girls and strong silent cowboys: how have ideas of gender shaped genre? Creating characters with agency and introspection, considering energetic vs. passive participants in plot.

Session 4: Sex and Dialogue
Biases, cisgender privilege and considering our perceptions around sex and sexuality. Is it possible to write sex well? Exploring dialogue: vernacular, slang, jargon and Bad Sex writing exercises.

Session 5: Worldbuilding / History as Subjective
How can we interrogate the reproduction of dominant narratives in fiction? Engaging with presiding ideologies and subjugated perspectives through the lense of genre fiction – from sci-fi to historical – in order to build complex and textured story worlds.

Session 6: Deep Diving into Character
More than villains, saints and perpetual victimhood: how do we write characters who stray from dominant archetypes? Extended character-building exercises and concluding thoughts.

Dates & times

This event has passed.


Royal Festival Hall
Sunley Pavilion, Level 3


£90 for six-week course
Booking fee: £3.00 (Members £0.00)


25% off (limited availability)
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need to know

Age recommendation
For ages 18+

Event information
This course takes place from 7pm – 9pm on the following dates:
Wed 24 Apr: Sunley Pavilion, Level 3, Green Side, Royal Festival Hall
Wed 8 May: Sunley Pavilion, Level 3, Green Side, Royal Festival Hall
Wed 22 May: Sunley Pavilion, Level 3, Green Side, Royal Festival Hall
Wed 5 Jun: Foyle Pavilion, Level 3, Blue Side, Royal Festival Hall
Wed 19 Jun: Sunley Pavilion, Level 3, Green Side, Royal Festival Hall
Wed 3 Jul: Foyle Pavilion, Level 3, Blue Side, Royal Festival Hall

All six sessions are included in this ticket. We strongly recommend that participants make sure they are available for all six sessions of the course, but at a minimum attend four.

By purchasing a ticket you agree to be contacted by Southbank Centre on email in relation to this course.

Please bring a notebook and something to write with.

Please note, the deadline for bursary applications has passed.

Access information
All sessions in this course are British Sign Language interpreted (BSL).

To join our free Access Scheme and book tickets for these services, call our Ticket Office on 020 3879 9555 or email
Find out more about our Access Scheme