University of Iowa

Fear and Loathing, and Sometimes Even Joy: Getting Emotion on the Page

Weekend July 20 to July 21 2019

Strong feeling is often what drives us to write. We want our reader to experience the sadness or outrage, the delight or sense of betrayal we feel when thinking about a fictional (or nonfictional) situation. But how do we do that, exactly? How do we tell a story that’s not cold, but that’s not melodramatic either?


This class will offer exercises and prompts to explore a variety of ways to get emotion on the page. We will experiment with description, dialogue, action, and gesture, and also how we use language itself. For each technique, we will look at examples from the pros, discussing how a range of writers have tackled these challenges. At the end of the weekend, you’ll have several new tools in your tool belt, and you will have written some pages that can serve as a springboard for more complete works. Together we will strive to make our classmates cry, laugh, gasp, and maybe even tremble with fear. Useful for both beginning and more experienced writers in any prose genre.


In this workshop we will generate new writing through guided exercises and prompts.                 

Hybrid Forms
Short Story
Young Adult