The University of Iowa

Novel Solutions

Weeklong June 21 to June 26 2020

You've been working on this story for... how 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. 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 bring opening chapters, or middle chapters, or even notes and notions to class, all of which will serve as springboards into the realm of enchantment. 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.


In this workshop, we will generate new writing through exercises and assignments; critique writing you bring from home; provide feedback on writing you produce in our week.