University of Iowa

Five Elements of the Novel: One for Every Day of the Workshop Week

Weeklong June 24 to June 29 2018

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. 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 of view, and the understanding of how to develop and deepen their novels’ themes.


This course is best suited for intermediate and advanced writers. Participants are free to bring existing novels with them or not; our focus will be on generating new material rather than workshopping existing material, but writers may feel free to work on existing characters, plots, and so on if they like.