The University of Iowa

Two Truths and a Lie: How to Fictionalize Your Life

Weekend July 25 to July 26 2020

When reading fiction, locating the boundary between the writer’s imagination and the writer’s reality is an endlessly fascinating and mysterious process. In this generative workshop, we’ll examine how writers can most effectively play with that boundary by fictionalizing their own experiences. We’ll explore how to dig deep into essential truths without suffering from overexposure, and how to mine our lives for the raw elements of powerful work. Through prompts, readings from authors such as Lydia Davis and Jesmyn Ward, and discussion, we’ll consider when it’s best to stick close to what really happened, and when it’s better to re-imagine real-world events to give them greater narrative drive and resonance. Students will leave with lists of story ideas and starts, and instant feedback on class-generated work will be offered in group discussions. By workshop’s end, students will see how every life can yield ample material for exciting and meaningful fiction.


In this workshop, we will generate new writing through exercises and assignments; provide feedback on writing you produce in our weekend.

Hybrid Forms
Short Story