University of Iowa

Weekend July 21 to July 22 2018

This course is designed for writers who work in short personal essays or extended prose memoirs and sometimes find themselves stuck on the varieties of past and present verb tenses, not to mention the pesky “perfect” forms that can sabotage the best of sentences.

Weekend July 21 to July 22 2018

A book proposal is your introduction to an agent or editor. It should answer two primary questions: Why will this book be successful? Why are you the best person to write it? This workshop will focus on helping participants begin the process of writing a proposal for various nonfiction genres, such as memoir, history, essays, autobiography, anthology, resource, self-help, how-to, humor, and more. Aspects of the proposal we will discuss and develop in our time together include: the title, hook, market, promotion, author bio, and outline.

Weekend July 21 to July 22 2018

No matter the genre in which you’re interested—literary, science fiction, paranormal, young adult, romance, etc.—you would probably think it ideal if your novel had many readers. If it attracted buzz. If it were, in other words, popular.

 

This fun weekend promises to stock you with enough fresh material for ten essays, stories, or even a book, to flesh out after our time together in Iowa City. In an invigorating, supportive, no-pressure environment, we’ll use tested and effective writing prompts to get some beginnings down on paper. We’ll have time to discuss and share our writing at the end of class each day and get feedback on how to proceed with the work we’ve started. You’ll also receive a list of prompts to help you generate new writing when you return home. Ten prompts.

Weekend July 21 to July 22 2018

Oh, we all have them: those well-trodden stories that are trotted out at reunions, at holiday dinners, after weddings and burials. The WWII memories, the “remember that day” memories, the “there-was-that-one-guy” tales—anecdotes we can’t help ourselves from telling, or hearing one more time. During this weekend, we will revisit the anecdote. We will ask questions of this form. Why that day? Why that person?

Weekend July 21 to July 22 2018

If we think of a poem as a bird, the two wings of that bird are craft and vision. (“Vision” loosely defined as a poem’s “revelation” about some facet of experience; and craft, the vehicle to deliver that revelation.) “Craft or vision?” is often the first question I ask when I see a poem faltering—a crucial question, for no refinement in craft can fix a vision problem, just as “profundity” can’t overcome faulty craft.

 

Weekend July 21 to July 22 2018

This course will examine the rich tradition of nonfiction writing about place; however, it will immediately detour onto the road less traveled. We don’t all have stories of Paris or Kilimanjaro. Some of us care about Paducah or desolate prairies. What does a writer need to capture the tiny towns and empty spaces, the everyday Main Streets and failing factories to create engaging, layered essays that reach far-flung readers?

In this weekend workshop, we’ll read and write fiction that breaches the parameters of strict realism by incorporating elements of the supernatural, the shocking, and the absurd. We’ll consider the effect of using “strangeness” to draw readers in, disarm them, and reset their expectations, with the ultimate goal of more brightly illuminating the “real” conflicts we wish to explore.

 

Weekend July 21 to July 22 2018

This workshop will examine ways to face the blank page, the blank screen, the place where psychology meets art. We will discuss the psychological aspects of starting a story, a novel, a poem or an essay. (I presume that painters, sculptors and composers all face some version of the blank page.) Many writers speak of what “triggered” their writing, what people, places or things attracted their attention—and why.

Weekend July 21 to July 22 2018

This is a workshop to be enjoyed standing up. Using techniques borrowed from Viola Spolin’s Theater Games and NPR’s This American Life, we will tell stories out of our dreams, our fears, our family histories, out of happenstance. We will examine the effects surprise, freshness, and challenge have on our writing. We’ll also talk about the how and why of documenting the work we make, answering these questions and more: When we create using improvisation, how do we transcribe or recreate the work?

The profile, one of the foundations of narrative journalism, is a portrait painted in words. A profile writer serves as the eyes and ears of the reader, enabling the reader to experience the subject as palpably as one can without meeting in person.

Weekend July 21 to July 22 2018

This session will offer an intensive dive into the world of poetic form. After we analyze exemplary poems from a diverse range of poets, we’ll try experiments in meter, rhyme, fixed forms, and recent kinds of adventurous prosody. We’ll also discuss the role of form in contemporary poetry and give feedback on poems that participants have previously written, paying particular attention to elements of form.

If you are writing, want to write, or have drafted a novel, you are thinking of All Those Pages. But the secret to a novel that flies is a novel you can talk about, a novel that can be compressed to the gem it is. Learn how to capture the essence of a story in a few clear sentences; further, analyze it as a scheme of component parts. That’s your way into revising, and it’s your way into telling someone they really should read it. Then write a summary that is your play-book.

“Stories are either best written in one jump or three, according to length. The three-jump story should be done on three successive days, then a day or so for revision and off she goes. This of course is the ideal.”  —F. Scott Fitzgerald