Back to All Events

Strength in Character: Storytelling Fundamentals for Fiction Writers

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

When: Friday, October 12th, 6:00pm-7:30pm

Saturday, October 13th, 9:30am-3:30pm (Lunch break at noon)

Sunday, October 14th, 9:30am-3:30pm (Lunch break at noon)

Where:  Iowa Writers' House, 332 East Davenport St

Cost: $265


This workshop will focus on character as the foundation of fiction. Flannery O’Connor advised writers that “If you start with a real personality, a real character, then something is bound to happen; and you don’t have to know what before you begin.” This workshop will offer practice in bringing fictional characters to life through point of view, detail, and dialogue. We will explore connections among character, plot, and setting through our characters’ actions and reactions, memories and imaginings.

O’Connor suggests, too, that writers don’t have to know everything about a story before they begin. We will treat writing as a process of discovery, finding out what’s “bound to happen” when we create full-bodied characters.

Participants in this workshop will discuss shared readings, generate new work, receive feedback from an engaged community of writers, and will leave the weekend with tools for writing effective fiction in the future. Open to writers at all experience levels, with a special focus on writers who want to strengthen their fiction fundamentals.


Rebecca Entel headshot.jpg

Rebecca Entel is the author of the novel Fingerprints of Previous Owners (Unnamed Press, 2017). Her short stories and essays have been published in such journals as Guernica, Joyland, Cleaver, Literary Hub, Catapult, and Electric Literature. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Wisconsin, she is currently an Associate Professor at Cornell College, where she teaches courses in creative writing, multicultural American literature, Caribbean literature, and the literature of social justice.

Learn more about her work at



Who is this person? That’s the question I tend to return to as I’m working on a piece of fiction. My writing is always a process of discovery, and I figure out the big fictional picture by uncovering the small details about my characters. Learning more about the people I’m writing about strengthens every aspect of my work. I can assess how the fundamentals, such as point of view and setting, help tell this person’s story. 

I’m excited to share with my students approaches for beginning a draft, deepening a draft, and re-envisioning a draft – all through setting a character in motion. Our workshop weekend will create a supportive, engaging, and challenging community in which to think about writing fiction, and everyone will leave with some new characters whose stories are just getting started.


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


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


All course information is sent to participants upon registering including confirmation of workshop times, location, and materials. Our workshop cancellation policy can be found here:

Earlier Event: September 23
The Path to Publishing
Later Event: October 14
Ghostwriter for Hire!