University of Iowa

Writing around the Edges

Weekend July 13 to July 14 2019

Have you heard the anecdote about the writer who wrote 900 pages and then was ready to start her book? Extreme as that may seem, the point is that sometimes the best way to develop your story is to write around the edges of it, to discover the world around the plot, the history of characters, the provenance of an object. In other words, sometimes you have to write a lot that won’t go directly on the page but will flavor everything else that does. The map of the old house, the contents of the bedside table, the one who wasn’t included in the family photograph—none of these are focused directly on plot and yet any of them might help you discover that elusive plot point or reveal the subconscious drives behind your character’s actions. Why? Because in a well written story, everything is connected. If writing is weaving, then every character, every event, every object, is a thread. Wherever they cross, energy is created. In this workshop, writers will dig deep into the world of their fiction to excavate the complexities and contradictions of their characters and bring the world of their story fully into view. We will investigate what has spilled out on the page in the excitement of the first draft and begin the work of refining, deepening and mining the story within. For this reason, this workshop is best suited to fiction writers who have a complete, or near complete draft. Writers should leave the workshop with a new understanding of the work they’ve done, and a clear path into revision.


In this workshop we will generate new writing through guided exercises and prompts.

Short Story