University of Iowa

Writing in Layers: Fiction, Narrative Nonfiction, and Poetry

Weekend June 16 to June 17 2018

One of the most effective ways of developing a story, poem, or essay is to work in layers of different narrative or thematic material. When the layers come from different realms of experience or thought (such as history, folk tales, work, religion, science, food, art, childhood memories), or when they carry different emotional charges, they complicate each other in unexpected ways. Things that were maybe flat and predictable before get interesting, and the writing achieves depth and originality and the rich intensity of our most powerful experiences. This workshop is focused on using techniques of layering to bring that kind of power and richness to your own writing. Through reading and discussing published works that involve multiple layers of material, through the creation and use of a very particular kind of writer’s notebook, and through exercises drawing on that notebook and current work in progress, you will produce new writing, strengthen writing you already have in draft form, share and discuss the results of those writing exercises, and develop techniques to make yourself a stronger, more interesting writer.