University of Iowa

Hugh Ferrer

Hugh Ferrer (M.F.A. in fiction, The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop) is a senior editor at The Iowa Review and the associate director of The University of Iowa International Writing Program. He has taught a variety of courses at The University of Iowa, introducing undergraduates to fiction writing, international literature, journal publishing, and Iowa City’s literary culture.

Instructor Events

Weekend June 23 to June 24 2018

Not every story needs the cranked-up tension of Indiana Jones fleeing a boulder-sized bowling ball, and not every novel needs the nail-biting suspense of a murder mystery; but if a reader doesn’t care what’s happening scene to scene, or the plot doesn’t intrigue us on some level, the jig is up. In this weekend session, open to all levels, we’ll explore the basics of plotting and look for answers to perennial questions: How much information should we withhold? How off-balance do we want the reader to be and for how long? How high do the stakes have to be?

Weeklong June 24 to June 29 2018

Contemporary fiction and creative non-fiction often leave the reader to decide what a story means. Think: complex characters, morally ambiguous situations, judgment-free (or unreliable, or multiple) narrators. Themes are suggested, never imposed; moral emotions are awoken, but not necessarily resolved. The modern reader wants to be moved without being preached at. Such literary effects demand a delicate coherence.

Pet peeves, love spells, jealousies, invented ideals: character-driven fiction is an invitation to move beyond consistency. An ill-advised whim can grow into a ruling passion. The bad guy, superstitious, rushes to establish a charity. Loyalties shift. A desire may leap from the heart of one character into the heart of another. After the king’s death, the queen dies not of grief, but because she glimpses her double leaving the funeral. Possibilities unfold in all directions.