The University of Iowa

Advanced Novel Workshop: Conflict, Plot, & Structure

Weeklong July 12 to July 17 2020

You are going happily along in your novel. You are quite pleased with the characters; they seem complex to you, interesting, like real, fleshy humans—more or less. The writing, if you do say so yourself, is good, heck, at times, you might even say brilliant (though of course you would never say this). But suddenly you are worried that it might be … well, of course it couldn’t be… boring—could it? There is a conflict. But is it weighty enough? Is the plot interesting enough? Is the structure—what’s the word—sturdy enough? (What is a structure, anyway?) Suddenly, you are unsure of yourself and your novel. You are no longer moving along happily. Maybe you should begin a new novel, one with a weightier conflict, a more interesting plot, and a sturdier structure (whatever that is).


Before you abandon the precious novel on which you have worked so hard for a new, shinier one—or if you simply want feedback on the novel that is going along for you quite well—consider enrolling in this course and submitting five pages to be workshopped in a supportive, stimulating environment. (Kelly will advise you on the sort of five pages you might submit.) Our goal will be to develop and strengthen the elements of conflict, plot, and structure in your novels (in any genre, and from just started to tenth draft...), so that you will return home with the inspiration and know-how to finish them.


This workshop is for advanced writers who are already working on novels. Focus will be primarily on workshopping material brought from home.

Young Adult