University of Iowa

Sandra Scofield

Sandra Scofield is the author of seven novels that include Beyond Deserving, a finalist for the National Book Award; a memoir, Occasions of Sin; a book of essays about family titled Mysteries of Love and Grief; and a recent book of stories, Swim: Stories of the Sixties. She has also written two craft books for fiction writers. The Scene Book: A Primer for the Fiction Writer has helped thousands of writers since 2006. The Last Draft: The Novelist’s Guide to Revision (2017) is based on Sandra’s 25 years teaching at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. Sandra is on the faculty of the low-residency Solstice M.F.A. Program at Pine Manor College. She is also an intrepid traveler, an avid painter, and a besotted grandmother.

Instructor Events

Weekend June 15 to June 16 2019
Instructor(s): 
Sandra Scofield

If you have written, are writing, or want to write a novel, you are thinking of All Those Pages. But the secret to a novel that flies is knowing exactly what it's about, and being able to convey that succinctly. I call that “Aboutness.” An agent or editor needs it in a query. A reader will sense it and talk about it to others. Most of all, you need it as a North Star to guide your writing. And you will write it this weekend! You will learn to use a 9-slot plot template; a logline; and a summary map.

Weeklong June 16 to June 21 2019
Instructor(s): 
Sandra Scofield

You have a story you are burning to tell. You're carrying it around in you, but you haven't even started. OR: You're writing but you aren't sure you can make it to the end. It's prime time to learn key concepts, such as the difference between plot, chronology, and structure. What it means for a character to have agency. How to write a scene sequence. You don't have to do these things in lockstep with the order of your story. You can roam the narrative to test the strength of events and the logic of the steps you take in telling them.

Weeklong June 23 to June 28 2019
Instructor(s): 
Sandra Scofield

Agency is the word for a character’s central role in pushing a story forward. Often a first draft traps us in a story with characters who are passive, or who just can’t figure out what to do next. But responsibility for one’s own fate is a big part of making a character sympathetic. How do you develop your protagonist’s agency, especially if your character is in trouble? You build character struggle that comes from obstacles between what is desired and what seems possible. You upset the equilibrium and put good things at risk.

Two-Weeklong July 14 to July 26 2019
Instructor(s): 
Sandra Scofield

This workshop is a rare opportunity to give and receive feedback on book-length manuscripts. There will be ten participants. Admission is by application only. To apply, submit 15 pp/@4500 words. If your excerpt is taken from a chapter longer than the specified pages, you may append a one paragraph summary. Also submit a synopsis, with a word-limit of 1000 words, and submit a one-page statement saying what you hope to achieve by being in the workshop.