University of Iowa

Structuring the Novel

Weeklong June 17 to June 22 2018

We often write short stories by the seats of our pants, with a combination of intuition and curiosity. In fact, this might be the best way to approach a short piece of prose. But a longer work is a different animal. While all writing should be a process of discovery, for many writers a novel needs a bit more planning. In this class, we will examine the structures of several (rather short) novels and discuss the choices made by the authors. We will look at the relationships between present action and flashback, scene and exposition, plot and sub-plot, and primary and secondary characters. We will practice outlining and look at and discuss one another’s plans. At the end of the week, you will have a semi-detailed outline for your project, as well as more detailed plans for key plot points and scenes. The goal for this class is to open the possibilities for your book and to help you understand some of the myriad choices you might make for the novel you are writing or want to write.