University of Iowa

Setting the Stage for Wonder: Magic and Mystery in Children's Picture Books

Weekend July 20 to July 21 2019

Charles DeLint has written, “When you are touched by magic, nothing’s ever quite the same again.” During our time together, we will explore how to create stories that bring a touch of wonder, magic, to our readers. How do we set the stage for wonder? How do we balance that wonder/that magic with the story’s reality?


In this workshop for picture book writers of all levels, we will consider how we can include the uncanny, the inexplicable, in our writing and yet tell a satisfying story. We will look at how we can create stories that leave the reader pondering. We’ll use what we discover to strengthen our own work—perhaps with a touch of wonder, a touch of magic or mystery. Plan to bring copies of your picture book manuscript (800 words or fewer) to share in workshop. The emphasis of our weekend’s work will be on process, as we learn, through critique and conversation, how to deepen our stories and our poems.


In this workshop we will provide feedback on writing you bring from home; generate new writing through guided exercises and prompts.