Advanced Fiction Seminar

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 includes 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. The course dates are September 16, 2013 to October 28, 2013.

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.


Fifteen writers hailing from Costa Rica, Egypt, England, India, Nigeria, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States were selected from a pool of 387 applicants from 49 countries to participate in the seminar.


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.

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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