University of Iowa

Deep Revision: Fiction & Narrative Nonfiction

Weeklong June 16 to June 21 2019

As challenging as the completion of a draft is, the work of significant revision that follows can be equally daunting. This is not a matter of light housekeeping—dusting, polishing, tidying up. Very rarely that’s all a draft needs; normally something bigger needs to happen before a substantial piece of writing achieves its full potential. Walls might need to be knocked down and rebuilt, new powerlines connected, skylights opened up. This is deep revision, exuberant work that demands courage and honesty and is most effectively accomplished with a deliberate strategy.


Intended for writers working on a novel or a narrative nonfiction book such as a memoir or literary journalism, or a substantial short story or narrative essay, the workshop will introduce a range of revision techniques for achieving the emotional and technical clarity necessary to make the process efficient and even pleasurable. Through a series of exercises and thoughtful scrutiny of successful published writing, you will apply those techniques to selections from your draft, making them more convincing, engaging, coherent, and original. The class aims to develop practices that will help you successfully complete the revision of your current writing project, and that will sustain you throughout your career as a writer.


In this workshop we will generate new writing through guided exercises and prompts; provide feedback on writing you bring from home or produce in our week.

Short Story