The University of Iowa

Jonathan Blum

Jonathan Blum is the author of two books of fiction: The Usual Uncertainties (Rescue Press, 2019), a story collection; and Last Word (Rescue Press, 2013), a novella. Both were named one of the best books of the year by Iowa Public Radio. The Usual Uncertainties was also named one of the 15 best short story collections of the year by Electric Literature. Blum grew up in Miami and graduated from UCLA and The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His short stories have appeared in The Carolina Quarterly, Electric Literature, Gulf Coast, Kenyon Review, Playboy, Sonora Review, as well as Shanxi Literature and others. He has taught fiction writing at Drew University and The University of Iowa. He has received a Hawthornden fellowship in Scotland and a Michener-Copernicus Society of America Award for his short fiction. He has also been a guest writer at the Tianjin Binhai New Area International Writing Program in China. This is his tenth year teaching at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. He lives in Los Angeles, where he teaches fiction writing workshops. He can be found online at jonathanblumwriter.com.

Instructor Events

Weekend July 18 to July 19 2020
Instructor(s): 
Jonathan Blum

How does one create a character? And more to the point, how does one create a character who is so interesting that a reader will want to spend an entire story or novel with them? In this course, which welcomes fiction writers of all levels, we will examine how to create complex and compelling characters. We will spend part of our time discussing how to build characters in the first place—how, from the get-go, to make them as credible and distinct as we can.

Weeklong July 19 to July 24 2020
Instructor(s): 
Jonathan Blum

When was the last time you read a story you couldn’t put down? We all want to write such stories, but how do we do it? In this class we will workshop short stories of up to 18 pages, with the goal of helping each writer identify and build on the strengths of his/her story. In so doing, we will discuss what makes a story irresistible. Among the questions we will consider: In what ways does this story engage and move us? Does the story have a recognizable structure that serves the writer’s artistic aims? Do the events that make up the plot connect to create meaning?