How Writers Write Fiction 2016: Storied Women

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October 11-November 21, 2016: The International Writing Program at the University of Iowa opened a new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on fiction writing, centered on female authorial voices and female literary characters. This online course was offered completely free to all participants and welcomed writers of all genders.


This MOOC was taught by Margot Livesey, Professor at the Iowa Writers' Workshop and author of seven novels and one short-story collection; and Christopher Merrill, Director of the International Writing Program, Professor of English at the University of Iowa, and author of six collections of poetry, five works of nonfiction, and many works of translation.

MOOC Description

How Writers Write Fiction 2016: Storied Women brought together beginning and experienced writers for the study and practice of writing fiction. Class videos, readings, and writing assignments invited new writers to experiment with the creation of fictional characters, scenes, and stories. Advanced writers were challenged to examine their convictions and to refine and expand their craft. Centering on character - the characters created by women writers and the female characters created by all writers - this MOOC led participants through a progressive study of how authors from around the world approach each aspect of writing fiction, from voice and dialogue to plot and narrative structure.

The contributing authors, who shared their craft principles and lent their advice to aspiring writers during the class videos, hail from the countries of Guyana, Indonesia, Israel, Mauritius, Nigeria, the Philippines, South Africa, and the United States, among others.

The MOOC's teachers, who worked directly with the participants online regarding the class videos, readings, and writing assignments, are alumni of the Iowa Writers' Workshop with substantial publication records and exceptional teaching expertise.

Happening Now

  • We regret the passing, on April 11, 2024, of the distinguished Romanian author and critic Dan Cristea, who served as the editor in chief of the Luceafărul de Dimineață cultural monthly. In addition to being an alum of the 1985 Fall Residency, Cristea received his PhD in Comparative Literature at the University of Iowa.

  • Our congratulations to 1986 Fall Residency writer Kwame Dawes, who has been named the new poet laureate of Jamaica.

  • Congratulations to our colleagues Jennifer Croft and Aron Aji, who are among those serving as judges for the National Book Awards this year, in their case in the category of translated literature.

  • Ranjit Hoskote’s speech at the 2024 Goa Literary Festival addresses the current situation in Gaza.

  • In NY Times, Bina Shah worries about the state of Pakistani—and American—democracy.

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