Workshops

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Art of the Pitch
Feb
11
1:00 PM13:00

Art of the Pitch

Maybe you have a brilliant idea for a non-fiction story or perhaps there is an essay, hidden like a jewel in your files, the only trouble is, you don’t know how to get published. This intensive three-hour course, is designed to take you from idea, to pitch, to publication.

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Developing Your Story in Depth with Jennifer Fawcett
Sep
29
to Oct 1

Developing Your Story in Depth with Jennifer Fawcett

To develop a work, sometimes you need to write to discover the world around the story, 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 that does. In this workshop, writers will dig deep into their work to discover and strengthen structure, explore the complexities and contradictions of their characters, and heighten imagery that can tie the whole piece together. We will look at 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.  This workshop is open to anyone writing a story, no matter what the form. Participants who come with in progress work (some pages of flushed out ideas) will gain the most benefit from the workshop. Beginning writers should feel comfortable bringing their work--we all start somewhere. 

This workshop is sure to be an experience that develops you as a writer and helps you dive deep into the possibilities of your stories!

 

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An Adventure In Writing: Using History’s Mysteries to Inspire Fiction
Jun
19
to Jun 23

An Adventure In Writing: Using History’s Mysteries to Inspire Fiction

In this workshop, young writers will explore an unsolved Iowa mystery and use the facts of the case to inspire their own fictional tales. Author and teacher Staci Mercado takes students through the process that created Seeking Signs, the 2013 Midwest Book Award winner and a story of historical fiction based on the death of Minnie Seamer in Clinton County. 

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Ghostwriter for Hire!
Jun
4
1:00 PM13:00

Ghostwriter for Hire!

There is a statistic that states that about 80% of the people in the US feel they have a book inside them they want to write. Only about 2% of the population complete and publish a book. Two things are often an impedance, time and skill. Ghostwriters fill in the gap as they are professional writers that have dedicated time and skill to help a client write a book from idea to published form. Currently there is a high demand for ghostwriters, as people want to expand their brands and presence in their respective marketplaces. Ghostwriters can exercise their writing skills, get paid, and not have to worry about coming up with story ideas, marketing or finding a publisher as these are the duties of the client. This presents a great opportunity for freelance writers to create a sustainable income while doing what they love.
This three-hour workshop provides the tools needed to begin ghostwriting which are different than conventional writing. Participants will learn how to collaborate with an author to develop ideas and outlines that match their needs, and will learn how to write in someone else’s voice. Attention will be paid to interviewing skills, transcribing another person’s ideas and concepts, and duplicating an author’s writing style. In addition, participants will learn the basics of being to find and engage clients.
 

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Learning Graphic Novels!
Jun
4
1:00 PM13:00

Learning Graphic Novels!

FUN HOME by Alison Bechdel and PERSEPOLIS by Marjane Satrapi have been some of the most beloved books of the past decades. They are also both graphic memoirs.

A graphic memoir can be the ultimate way to “show rather than tell.” In this workshop, we’ll learn about graphic novels and focus on the unique ways images can help tell a story.

Students will learn to use images to move the story forward and to heighten its emotional impact. They will leave with a greater understanding of how images function in a work of graphic nonfiction and with inspiration and ideas for their own graphic works.

Writers, artists, and participants of all levels are welcome. Previous experience or established drawing skills are not required.

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The Foundational Elements of Storytelling
Jun
2
to Jun 4

The Foundational Elements of Storytelling

Announcing our first Writers' House weekend workshop in Des Moines! 

This weekend workshop will examine six essential foundational elements of storytelling in relation to both fiction and nonfiction: characterization, point of view, dialogue, setting, scene, and plot.

Participants will discuss several short essays and successful story examples related to each craft element, and we will use corresponding writing exercises to help develop the practice of each element. Writing exercises will generate new work or can be applied to a work-in-progress, and participants will have multiple opportunities to share what they have written during class time.

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The Love Story: A Writing Workshop with Vu Tran
Apr
21
to Apr 23

The Love Story: A Writing Workshop with Vu Tran

This workshop will examine the ways we write about love in fiction: romantic love, familial love, unconventional love, etc.  Our basis will be the notion that love is ultimately self-knowledge, which lies at the core of all great fiction, and like self-knowledge it involves an endless and inexhaustible act of seeking. 

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The Foundational Elements of Storytelling
Mar
31
to Apr 2

The Foundational Elements of Storytelling

This weekend workshop will examine six essential foundational elements of storytelling in relation to both fiction and nonfiction: characterization, point of view, dialogue, setting, scene, and plot.

Participants will discuss several short essays and successful story examples related to each craft element, and we will use corresponding writing exercises to help develop the practice of each element. Writing exercises will generate new work or can be applied to a work-in-progress, and participants will have multiple opportunities to share what they have written during class time.

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Edible Essays: Adventures in Food Writing with Jennifer Cognard-Black
Mar
10
to Mar 12

Edible Essays: Adventures in Food Writing with Jennifer Cognard-Black

 A recipe is a slice of history—an archival document that offers information about a recipe writer’s family structure, ethnicity, economic status, diet, and geography. In this workshop, participants will consider the recipe as a form of familial storytelling and meaning-making all its own and provide participants with the opportunity to excavate their own recipes for family stories and write an extended memoir essay, or “Edible Essay.”

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IWH SPECIAL EVENT: Notes from Underground with Anna Barker
Nov
5
10:00 AM10:00

IWH SPECIAL EVENT: Notes from Underground with Anna Barker

  • Old Capitol Museum Supreme Court Chamber (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

Join us for coffee, Russian tea cakes, and deep discussion at this one day event with Anna Barker at the Old Capitol Senate Chambers. The writing and publication of Notes from Underground was a monumental event in world literature and a turning point in Dostoevsky's life and career. Many of the questions he ponders in Notes from Underground are unresolvable and belong to what is called the "cursed questions" in nineteenth century Russian literature. Who are we and how do we define ourselves? Do we live in the underground of our own consciousness and how honest are we to ourselves about our deepest and darkest convictions? 

Prepare to have your convictions undermined by arguments you cannot refute. Prepare to question everything. Long live the underground! Devil take the underground!

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Finding Our Voices, Writing Our Futures: A Workshop for Young Ladies, Ages 8-12
Oct
29
to Oct 30

Finding Our Voices, Writing Our Futures: A Workshop for Young Ladies, Ages 8-12

Finding Your Voice is a two-day workshop for young girls aged 8-14. Our teachers will not only introduce the girls to the many forms of fiction and nonfiction writing but will also help them find their own narrative voice. Through creative exploration in an environment of safe learning and expression, our girls will learn about themselves and about the voice they have inside that is waiting to come out.

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The Basics of Fiction: For Newbies and Pros
Sep
23
to Sep 25

The Basics of Fiction: For Newbies and Pros

Chicago-based author Rebecca Makkai has tips for beginners and professionals when it comes to the basics of fiction writing. In this weekend workshop, participants will explore the building blocks of a great story and learn what solid narrative architecture looks like. The class will examine successful examples of narrative fiction as models, and also look at some of the wildest formal innovation being done today.

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Characterization: Writing Characters With Depth And Appeal
Aug
12
to Aug 14

Characterization: Writing Characters With Depth And Appeal

Writing great characters is at the core of every great writer’s skill set. A well-drawn character is someone who seems ready to walk off the page and begin talking with your readers. In this workshop we’ll focus on how to fine-tune your characterization skills. We'll take a two-pronged approach and focus on both the interior life of a character and the visible, physical details.

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Find Your Voice: Tools & Techniques for Telling Stories with Dan Boscaljon
Jun
4
to Jun 5

Find Your Voice: Tools & Techniques for Telling Stories with Dan Boscaljon

Learn the ins and outs of the writer's arc with Dan Boscaljon. In this workshop, participants will edit and refine a small draft of writing from multiple angles, and will leave having gained dynamic set of options for approaching the creative writing process as a cumulative, upward spiral built on original moments of self-understanding. 

 

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Mastering Editing & Revision: A Writing Workshop with Mary Rakow
Apr
22
to Apr 24

Mastering Editing & Revision: A Writing Workshop with Mary Rakow

Every writer knows, there is writing and then there is revising. The editing and revision phase requires putting on a separate hat than the one you wore for the first draft. Often the difference between a good piece and a great piece lies in the writer's ability to both to ruthlessly reduce and delicately refine their work. This workshop is designed to help writers develop and hone their editor's eye through review of their own work and participating in peer critique through the traditional 'workshop' method. 

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From Memory and Imagination: A Generative Writing Workshop
Mar
25
to Mar 26

From Memory and Imagination: A Generative Writing Workshop

This workshop for fiction and nonfiction writers focuses on drawing from personal memory and experience to craft new stories. Led by former Iowa International Writing Program fellow Sabata Mokae, this workshop will explore ways and means of retrieving from one’s own archive, from the visuals etched in the mind from way back, in order to create narratives.

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Sex, Love, Art and Tolstoy
Feb
13
10:00 AM10:00

Sex, Love, Art and Tolstoy

Sex, Love, Art and Tolstoy         

The Iowa Writers' House presents a special Valentine's Weekend experiential literary course.

Presented by a passionate Russian literature enthusiast, Anna Barker, this experiential literary course begins with coffee/tea and Russian tea cakes and ends with vodka and caviar sandwiches. Between culinary delights, participants will learn about Tolstoy's life, loves, influences, and obsessions, including the writing of the Kreutzer Sonata (1889), his most controversial and infuriating tale of love, obsession, sex, murder, and music! We will discuss the connections between this novella and the Beethoven piano sonata that inspired it and contemplate the influences of masterpieces in our lives today. This course is designed to provide artistic revelation and thought provoking fodder for group discussion and to breathe new life and inspiration into the mind of the participant. It's open to literary novices and advanced writers and thinkers. Preliminary reading the Richard Pevear and Larisa Volokhonsky translation of the novella (70 pages) is strongly encouraged/required (available in Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories at Prairie Lights).

Is there a more poignant way to spend a Valentine's Weekend Saturday in Iowa City than immersed in love, sex, art, and food through literary exploration? We can think of none!

Saturday Feb 13th at at the Iowa Writers' House
10:00-12pm: Morning session
12pm-1:30: Break for lunch
1:30-3:30pm: Afternoon Session

Course cost: $45 per individual or $85 for a duo

All proceeds donated to The Iowa Writers' House

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