The University of Iowa’s International Writing Program is proud to present a free online fiction writing course this fall for strong, emerging writers. In light of its online format, the course presents a unique opportunity for writers located miles apart to read and discuss contemporary fiction and share their own work. This course will include seven live online sessions and will be conducted via virtual classroom software. The only technical requirements are a computer, a stable internet connection, and a headset. The course is free of charge and all sessions will be conducted in English.
COURSE DESCRIPTION We’ve all seen lists of dos and don’ts for writing fiction. Some of these lists may even have been written by writers you admire and whose work you enjoy. Don’t start a story with the weather, one might say, or always re-read the previous day’s pages before continuing the story. In a world filled with craft essays and creative writing pedagogies, it’s sometimes easy to forget that some of the most electric and energetic fiction we encounter seems exciting precisely because it breaks “the rules.” In this course, we’ll review some of this advice and put it to the test. Is it really always best to write longhand? Must you really turn off the Internet while you write? Is it true that you should only ever use the verb “said” in a dialogue tag? Each week, we’ll focus on one element of fiction-making and on an assigned reading that will provide a jumping-off point for discussions about characterization, plot, setting, conflict, point of view, narrative passages, and scenes. We’ll look at short stories by writers such as Denis Johnson, Danielle Evans, and Tobias Wolff as well as short craft essays by Charles Baxter, Anne Lamott, and others. Through weekly writing prompts, we will take risks, attempt a number of approaches, and challenge our assumptions about what makes fiction work. Students will receive brief written feedback on weekly exercises and fuller comments on a longer story or novel excerpt collected at the end of the course.
ELIGIBILITY Since this course is offered entirely online, anyone with a reliable internet connection is encouraged to apply, regardless of where you live. The course is designed for advanced writers with an active commitment to reading fiction and refining their craft, though no previous experience is required. Unpublished fiction writers and applicants with a limited publication history are welcome to apply. The course will be limited to fifteen writers by application only. International writers are encouraged to apply.
ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR Originally from Visalia, California, Nate Brown is a graduate of Cornell University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s MFA program. He has received writing fellowships from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Vermont Studio Center, the Kimmel, Harding, Nelson Center for the Arts, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. His work can be found in Wag’s Revue, The Iowa Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Mississippi Review, among others. He currently serves as Deputy Director of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation in Washington, DC.
- Statement of purpose (Please include your motivations for joining the course.)
- Writing sample (Please limit your submission to an excerpt of NO MORE than five pages.)