The University of Iowa

Whose Voice Is This? A Primer on Style

Weekend July 18 to July 19 2020

Most writers and readers will tell you that to have an engaging style, we need to capture the sound of a “real person speaking,” but it is equally true that good prose is not merely writing down what people say. How do we navigate getting the sound and resonance of our “style” down on the page, and how would we even begin to describe the sound we’re trying to achieve? This workshop provides an entry into defining and manipulating prose styles. We will begin with short prose passages from writers with very distinctive styles to learn what we can about how words and sentence structure create the sound of an author’s voice on the page. Then we will engage in several exercises to directly impose or manipulate style on a topic we wish to write about. By the end of the weekend, writers may not be “masters of style,” but they will understand in much more concrete terms what determines the sound, authenticity, and power of prose style in writing. Writers of all levels are welcome.


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