Magid Center for Writing
Iowa Writers' Room
Housed in the Magid Center for Writing, The Iowa Writers' Room is a professionally oriented program that prepares students to enter a career in writing for television.
About The Iowa Writers' Room
The Iowa Writers' Room (IWR), part of the Magid Center for Writing, grew directly from the University of Iowa’s unparalleled history of literary excellence. Iowa has long been able draw the best creative talent in the country to its graduate writing programs and some of those writers made their way to Los Angeles. Their presence has grown in recent years as alumni have filled the need for intelligent, character-driven scripted television. Indeed, the current demand for creative content is so high that UI alumni are increasingly selling the screen rights for their novels at the same time that the novels are sold for publication.
As Iowa’s impact in the entertainment industry grew, the university saw an opportunity to shorten the path to success for students by creating a value-adding, differentiated screenwriting initiative that is both low-cost and high-impact, and nimble enough to respond quickly to market demands. Thanks to the university’s many writing programs, graduate and advanced undergraduate writers already know how to create a story. This program gives them two options to learn how to tailor those stories to a new and quickly changing medium.
Writers' Room Fellowships
The IWR fellowships provide time and space during the Fall semester for select post-MFA students to work intensively on one or more scripts, develop ideas for future projects, and receive in-depth professional mentoring by a successful and experienced writer in the field. Fellows will also explore ways to navigate the business of writing for long-form television. Funding for the fellowship is roughly $17,000.
Writers' Room Courses
The Magid Center offers two Writers' Room courses: WRIT:3325 (an Experiential learning class where students gain first-hand experience as part of a traditional television writers' room—accepted students select material and show topics, pitch ideas, collaboratively breaking story, and write and workshop scripts for a limited series television show of student's choosing; includes instruction and class visits by acclaimed industry insiders) and WRIT:1325 (a screening-based course in which students develop skills in television script writing, structural analysis, and story craft by conducting an in-depth review of a season of a television show; includes instruction and class visits by acclaimed industry insiders). More classes are being developed and will be offered soon.
Iowa alumni have played a transformational role in Hollywood for decades, and the Iowa Writers' Room has been lucky to work with many of these talented and award-winning writers. Past instructors, mentors, and visitors to the Iowa Writers' Room include Mitch Burgess and Robin Green (The Sopranos, Blue Bloods), Dean Bakopoulos (Made for Love), Rick Cleveland (Six Feet Under), David Kajganich (The Terror, Bones and All, A Bigger Splash, Suspiria), Vinnie Wilhelm (Castle Rock), Lila Byock (The Watchmen, The Leftovers), Sam Shaw (Manhattan), Mark Lafferty (The Right Stuff, Halt and Catch Fire), Josh Parkinson (Eastbound and Down), and many more.
Hawkeyes have captured our collective imagination and helped shape cultural conversations through their work. Our television-writing alumni have embraced this initiative and have guided the its development through an LA-based steering committee. These alumni contribute to the semester-long class and provide vital industry contacts for students interested in entering the entertainment industry. Their collective credits include: Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Manhattan, Blue Bloods, Castle Rock, Six Feet Under, West Wing, House of Cards, Mad Men, Girls, The Terror, Coach, Newhart, The Right Stuff, Gossip Girl and Northern Exposure.
Related UI Programs
Alumni Television credits
The Iowa Writers' Room is housed in the Magid Center and supported by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, by Kevin and Donna Gruneich, by the Meta and George Rosenberg Foundation, by Mitchell Burgess and Robin Green, and by other donors. The IWR acts in collaboration with the Department of Theatre Arts and the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
We look forward to expanding course options, fellowship opportunities, and inventive programming that can only take place at The Writing University.
Hollywood screenwriter Josh Parkinson to teach UI class: The new course “Adaptation for Television” introduces students to the processes of a television writers’ room.
Profile: Abigail Carney, recent UI alum with upcoming television series.
Profile: Mark Johnson, UI alum and winner an Academy Award, three Emmys, a Peabody, and a Golden Globe for films such as Rain Man and television shows such as Breaking Bad.
Profile: D.B. Weiss, UI alum and co-creators, executive producers, showrunners, and writers for Game of Thrones
Iowa Writers' Workshop
Playwrights Workshop (Theatre Arts)
Nonfiction Writing Program
MFA Program in Spanish Creative Writing
Department of English Creative Writing Program