University of Iowa

Plotting the Novel

Weeklong July 14 to July 19 2019

W. Somerset Maugham has said that there are three rules to writing a novel but that, unfortunately, no one knows what they are. We might safely assume though, that one of these rules might have something to do with plot: Maybe we should have one in our novels? Maybe it would be helpful to plan the plot out ahead of time? In this weeklong workshop, we’ll do various exercises to help us develop and deepen our plots. We’ll work on ways in which our plots might arise out of character, and we’ll discuss issues such as how to create more intensity and how to (possibly) juggle and integrate more than one plot at a time. We’ll spend additional time sharing our ideas and plots with one another. Our goal is that by the time the week is over, everyone will have a general outline for a novel plot, and many writers will have a more detailed, annotated outline as well; having these outlines will make it very manageable for all writers to go home and write their novels.  This workshop is for writers of all levels. Our primary focus will be on generating new material.


In this workshop we will generate new writing through guided exercises and prompts.

Young Adult