The University of Iowa

What If? Testing the Premise of Your Novel

Weekend July 25 to July 26 2020

You have an idea. Maybe you have pages. You also have doubts (don't we all?). This is an opportunity to share and test your amniotic story in a safe, generous, and productive community setting. The premise—your core idea—is the bedrock of the novel. Why is this story the one you are compelled to write? Where did it come from? What are the basic elements of plot and character that you know so far? Shake it up and see what else is there.


We will talk about the mystery and obstacles in your stories; the resonance of personal and public history; the inevitabilities; the urgency of what must happen; and the surprise of what is possible. You will scribble and share. We will talk and laugh and cheer one another on, and dig for, yes, the gold.


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