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The Force of Mystery (Session 2, Fiction Writing with Karen Parkman) is a Course

The Force of Mystery (Session 2, Fiction Writing with Karen Parkman)

Time limit: 84 days

$575 Enroll

Full course description

This 2-week online course is part of the Iowa Young Writers' Studio Online Camp, Session 2, July 11-24, 2021. There is a separate application process for this course. If you have not been accepted into Session 2 of the Iowa Young Writers' Studio Online Camp you are not eligible to enroll.


This summer, something awesome is going to happen: a group of strangers will come together to bond over their love of writing. In this class we will devote ourselves to figuring out what makes fiction work and what kind of stories we want to tell. We’ll talk about all the essential elements of storytelling: plot, structure, character development, setting, point of view, and also, the development of mystery in our own stories.


I love thinking about stories in terms of mystery. Mystery can serve as the driving force in a story. It can provide momentum, give characters an impetus to act, and offer insight into what our characters care most deeply about. We’ll use the lens of mystery to ask some essential questions about our own stories: What do our characters seek? What drives them to act? What are they trying to understand and what are they willing to do to reach that understanding? Sending your characters deeper into mysterious territory also gives you a chance to make new discoveries. You may find your story taking twists and turns you couldn’t have planned, or bringing you to places you never thought you could go.


In this class, you can expect to spend a lot of time talking about writing with a crew of people who love it as much as you. We’ll use Zoom, our online discussion board, and Google Docs to communicate and share. We’ll do lots of writing exercises to get you motivated and excited to produce new work of your own. We’ll also read and discuss published stories and to try and figure out how the authors pulled them off. You’ll have the opportunity to share your own work with your peers, and receive support, insight, and careful critique in return. There’s no pressure to be anything other than excited and ready to learn. This class will give you a chance to totally immerse yourself in your writing with support and guidance from me and your classmates.


Karen Parkman is excited to teach at the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio for her fourth summer. She graduated from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 2016 and now lives and teaches in Minneapolis. She’s also lived in West Virginia, Ohio, Boston, and New Zealand. Her favorite books include Escapes by Joy Williams, Why Did I Ever by Mary Robison, and The End of Vandalism by Tom Drury. Hanging out in a classroom with other people who love writing is one of the great joys of her life. Karen’s stories have been published in Joyland and Witness, and she is currently working on a novel.




The fee for this course is $575. Payment in full is required to enroll in the course.


Note: Your credit card payment will be processed by an external provider and will appear on your credit card statement as “UI Writing—Magid Center."


Cancellation Policy: A $100 cancellation fee will be applied to refunds for cancellations received by Tuesday, June 1, 2021. Thereafter, no refunds will be available. 



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