University of Iowa

Novel Solutions

Weeklong July 15 to July 20 2018

You’ve been working on this thing long? Months? Years? It’s supposed to look like a novel, but now that you’ve got it in front of you, it looks more like a six-legged cow or a bus with wings. You’ve begun to wonder what, exactly, a “novel” is. Maybe you’re not writing one. You might be writing a cycle-of-stories-as-novel, or a faux memoir, or a “modular” novel with some unifying structural element. In this class, we’ll look at ways of structuring novel-length narratives to create a variety of fully-engaging, satisfying works. We’ll examine traditional plot structures, as well as a host of others, using examples from contemporary literature. We’ll address pacing, psychic distance, aspects of “voice,” and more. Participants will not bring novels to class; rather, they will bring an opening chapter, or a middle chapter, or even notes or notions. We’ll consider the possibilities. Always, the structural solution for the most compelling rendering of the story will be novel to the writer, will fit his or her narrative impulses.