University of Iowa

Storyteller’s Tools: Techniques Essential to Fiction and Narrative Nonfiction

Weeklong June 17 to June 22 2018

Whether writing fiction or narrative nonfiction, you bring to the workbench a wealth of resources—your life experience, reading, language, personality, and imagination. This workshop focuses on writing tools necessary for transforming those resources into either fiction or a nonfiction narrative such as memoir or literary journalism. The cross-over of these techniques between fiction and nonfiction will be a prevailing theme as we examine strong examples in published writing. The primary tools we’ll explore will include setting, character, dialogue, point of view, voice, and structure. We will discuss the specific goals of a writing project you are contemplating or currently working on, and we will consider ways in which you can use essential storytelling techniques to achieve them. You will do exercises applying these writing tools to portions of your project, practicing on a small scale the approaches that will be useful throughout the larger work. The reading and exercises, our individual conversations, and the workshop discussions of new writing produced during the class will help to create an engaging, distinctive, successful work out of materials that are uniquely your own. The course is intended for writers relatively new to narrative writing or looking for a deeper, more practical understanding of fundamental storytelling techniques.