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The Basics of Fiction: For Newbies and Pros

  • Iowa Writers House 332 East Davenport Street Iowa City, IA, 52245 United States (map)

The Basics of Fiction: For Newbies and Pros

WHEN: Friday, September 23, 6-7:30 pm
Saturday, September 24, 9:30 am- 3:30 pm (lunch break 12-1 p.m.)
Sunday, September 25, 9:30 am- 2:30 pm (lunch break 12-1 p.m.)
WHERE: The Iowa Writers' House, 332 E Davenport St
FEE: $245, student price: $195

The basic elements of fiction -- arc, plot, conflict, reversals, development, resolution -- are often both the first we learn and the first we forget. How can we shape surprising, memorable, suspenseful stories that are more than the sum of their parts? What does solid architecture look like for narrative fiction?

Our work on the building blocks of story will be essential for writers at any stage, in the same way a "yoga fundamentals" class would benefit both the seasoned and novice yogi alike. We will examine successful examples of narrative fiction as models, and we'll also look at some of the wildest formal innovation being done today.

Bring stories in progress, notebooks of ideas, and writing tools. We'll do more brainstorming and planning than silent writing or workshopping, and you don't need to come to the class with any finished work -- just a willingness to experiment and have fun.

Rebecca Makkai is the Chicago-based author of the story collection Music for Wartime, as well as the novels The Hundred-Year House (a BookPage “Best Book” of 2014 and winner of the Chicago Writers Association Award) and The Borrower (a Booklist Top Ten Debut). Her short fiction was featured in The Best American Short Stories anthology in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, and appears regularly in publications such as Harper’s, Tin House and Ploughshares, and on public radio’s This American Life and Selected Shorts.

The recipient of a 2014 NEA Fellowship, Rebecca has taught at the Tin House Writers' Conference, Northwestern University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.


Everyone has a story to tell. If you are financially unable to attend this workshop, scholarships are available through our generous partners and donors. 


Helping another person attend a workshop is helping them achieve their dreams. Thank you for making our world a better place.


Earlier Event: September 20
Great Green Room Write-In
Later Event: September 27
Violet Realm Write-In