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Facing Your Fears: Writing Through Darkness

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

When: Saturday, October 26, 2019; 1:30pm-4:30pm

Where:  Iowa Writers' House, 332 East Davenport St

Cost: $75


“Scary“ is a catch-all term that unhelpfully brings together several distinct, potent forms of human experience. Different things scare people—but more importantly, different kinds of things scare people in different kinds of ways. This class distinguishes among three basic experiences that shape humans (therefore readers)—objects of fear, experiences of horror, and realizations of terror. This class discusses these as important tools in the construction of most kinds of writing (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, plays).

Experiences of fright have a purpose: they precede times of transformation, especially as they reveal truths about what it means to be who we are. The most potent forms of fright are the most private, intimate, and personal.  These motivate characters and readers: to use them well provides a depth and coherence when weaving together a story. Understanding the mechanics of fright is essential in your writing, because it makes the experiences of your characters more relatable. As a bonus: these skills are also important in navigating your own life beyond the text.

The second component of this course will build on the what of constructing fright and will focus on how to create these sorts of dynamics and tensions within a text. Participants will use simple prompts to practice working through the what of fright and the how of writing to gain a working understanding of why fright is important as a tool, and when it can be used effectively.



Daniel Boscaljon is a published author and scholar. His background in secular/agnostic theology and 19th-century Gothic American literature emphasizes the kinds of stories we tell—to ourselves and to others—using the resources of psychology, philosophy, theology, and religion to explore behind-the-scenes workings of life and literature. He has over twenty years of teaching experience, ranging from teenagers to seniors.

Daniel has become increasingly interested in teaching the skills in critical and creative thinking that allow adults to develop wisdom in everyday life. His writing in the Little Village, as well as for the Englert Theatre and Hancher Auditorium, provides guides toward thoughtful experiences in the arts. His latest classes—Intuitive Thinking and Tarot Interpretation, and Reconceiving the Divine Feminine—have explored the logic behind spiritual experiences. Finally, Daniel’s work in digital worlds—The Thoughtful Life—has approached finding hope in the everyday. Instagram shares the hope latent in the everyday, and his podcast, Making Space for Yourself, provides a meditation on self-exploration. For more information about him, go to


My goal in my writing, my teaching, and my living is to live thoughtfully and to provide the tools and inspire others to do the same. A thoughtful life combines a caring attitude with critical thinking to become more intentional about sowing the seeds of kindness. The courage of a thoughtful life, especially in a world beset by fear, arises from understanding our experiences of fright and allowing them to inform what we do—in what we create as well as in how we live.


All course information is sent to participants upon registering, including confirmation of workshop times, location, and materials.