University of Iowa

Writing a Child's Perspective: Fiction, Memoir, & Poetry

Weekend June 22 to June 23 2019

This weekend workshop focuses on the challenges and resources of writing about childhood experience. (Childhood, for our purposes, runs from a person’s earliest memories to the threshold of young adulthood.) We will read published fiction, creative nonfiction, and poems that involve a child’s perspective, and we will explore the advantages and liabilities of various narrative points of view. We will use these insights to ask constructive questions about writing being worked on by members of the class. For instance, how sophisticated should the language be? How much understanding should be reflected? Who is the audience? What is the emotional and temporal distance between a particular childhood event and its narration? How can we avoid the swamps of condescension and cliché that surround many depictions of children’s experience?


I will invite you to bring to the workshop one or more short story, essay, or poem drafts or a novel or memoir in progress that involves a child’s perspective, whether as narrator, point of view character, secondary figure, or the writer’s earlier self. We will discuss the particular challenges posed by the child’s perspective in a given piece, and you will do writing exercises designed to make that perspective as authentic, original, vivid, and engaging as possible. Some of the exercises might involve revisions of existing writing; others will generate new passages involving a child’s perspective.


In this workshop we will generate new writing through guided exercises and prompts; provide feedback on writing you bring from home or produce in our weekend.

Short Story
Young Adult