University of Iowa

The Narrative Call: Polish and Deepen Your Novel Draft

Weeklong July 15 to July 20 2018

This workshop assumes that you have been developing your novel for a while. You may have a draft or an outline completed. Either way, you should have an overview of the story and several chapters that you are ready to revise. The goal of the week is to develop an understanding of revision strategies, and to practice, with feedback. We will not be emphasizing a rework of plot, though you will inevitably get fresh perspective on it. Rather, you will focus closely on portions of your manuscript with an eye to enriching the story, the character, and the prose. In other words, this workshop is about the writing.


There are many things to think about in revision, and we will begin with a discussion of theme and structure, but the emphasis of the week will be on deepening your story through interiority (the inner voice of the protagonist), commentary (the voice of the narration), and threads of images (the sensory moments that strike the reader and resound throughout the story). We will look at models and do exercises. Using the free morning hours, you will revise core scenes to create more engagement of the reader with the character. This approach is challenging and exciting; it should put your novel into a whole new realm of meaning. We will review exercises early in the week, and then we will