University of Iowa

Five Elements of the Novel

Weeklong June 23 to June 28 2019

While there are numerous elements of a novel, it would be difficult—if not quite impossible—to write a successful novel without these five elements in particular: plot, character, dialogue, point of view, and theme. And while of course the elements intertwine, we’ll spend one day focusing on each of them, discussing how to develop each one deeply and successfully in our novels, and doing in-class writing and exercises. Our goal is that by the end of the week, writers will have the skills to continue to develop their plots and characters, the confidence and ability to write good dialogue, the know-how to choose a point a view, and will understand how to develop and deepen their novels’ themes. This course is best suited for experienced writers.


You are free to bring a novel you have underway or not; our focus will be on generating new material rather than workshopping existing material, but you may, of course, apply our work in class to existing characters/plots etc.


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.