University of Iowa

Revising the Novel

Weekend June 16 to June 17 2018

You’ve typed “The End” on the first draft of a novel in all its messy glory, and now the daunting task of revising and editing hundreds of pages sits before you. Where to start? Which problem to tackle first, and how? This class is for fiction writers with a working draft of a novel-in-progress at any stage in need of revision. The goal of our weekend is to develop some organization in revising and an understanding of particular revision strategies. We’ll discuss and practice techniques tailored for novel revision to help develop and shape the areas of dramatic tension, pacing, plot, scene, characterization and narrative voice, setting, and style. We’ll also examine various novel-length structures and examples from contemporary literature, and do some in-class writing exercises that engage specific aspects of your novel-in-progress. Participants will not be required to bring pages to workshop. Instead, you will learn and practice revision techniques to apply to your novel, such as the goal/motivation/conflict technique, testing your plot for cause and effect, layering scenes, getting closer to your characters through a psychological questionnaire, fully utilizing your setting (by burning it to the ground), and editing out filter words. You’ll leave this weekend with a revision approach designed to make the process less intimidating.