The University of Iowa

Short Story Workshop

Weeklong July 12 to July 17 2020

From time to time, we all need a fresh set of eyes to look at our work. In this workshop, our main goal will be to look closely at the short stories each of you have written and to offer detailed, constructive suggestions that will help you enhance your story’s strengths and diminish its weaknesses. We’ll address such issues as character development, pacing, point of view, structure, dialogue, language and setting. We’ll also talk in a more general way about the underlying themes in your story, the deeper conflicts and subtext, and ultimately what your story is really about. Each day I will talk for a short time about a specific element of craft as well as general strategies for approaching the short story form, but the majority of our class time will be spent discussing your work in workshop. I have always been of the belief that one learns as much about the craft of fiction from reading and critiquing the works of others as one does from receiving feedback on one’s own work. With this in mind, I will ask each of you to read and respond to your peers’ stories and participate in a constructive way in our group discussions. At the end of our week, my hope is that you will not only have a much clearer sense of how to improve your own story but also a much better understanding of craft and the process of working within the short story form. Please plan to send me one double-spaced story up to eighteen pages in length prior to our week.


In this workshop, we will critique writing you bring from home.

Short Story