Wayne Johnson


Wayne Johnson (M.F.A. The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop) is the author of, among other books, six novels, a collection of stories, a memoir, and two nonfiction works.  Three of his books have been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, two were New York Times Notable Books of the Year, one was a selection of the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers series and finalist for book of the year, and another a Kansas City Star Book of the Year.  His awards include a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford, inclusions in O. Henry and Best American Short Stories collections, and a Chesterfield Writer’s Film Project Fellowship in L.A., sponsored by Steven Spielberg.  As a ghostwriter/editor he has seen tens of books to completion, and as a script doctor has worked on over forty films.  Wayne has a new novel, The Witch Tree, forthcoming in June, 2023, and full length features in development with movie companies and streaming television. 


Wayne Johnson photo

Novel Solutions

Event status
Attendance Required
You've been working on this thing for... how long? Months? Years? It's supposed to look like a novel, but now that you have it in front of you, it looks more like a six-legged cow or a bus with wings. You've begun to wonder what, exactly, a "novel" is. Maybe you're not writing one. You might be writing a cycle-of-stories-as-novel, or a faux memoir, or a "modular" novel with some unifying structural element. You might be writing a "fusion" novel, or even a "mash-up." In this class, we'll look at ways of structuring novel-length narratives to create a variety of fully-engaging, satisfying works. We'll examine traditional plot structures, as well as a host of others, using examples from contemporary literature. We'll address pacing, psychic distance, aspects of "voice," and more. Participants will not bring novels to class; rather, they will bring an opening chapter, or a middle chapter, or even notes and notions. We'll consider the possibilities. Always, the structural solution for the most compelling rendering of the story will be novel to the writer, will fit his or her narrative impulses.
Wayne Johnson photo