Kelly Dwyer

Biography

Kelly Dwyer's third novel, Ghost Mother, will be published by Union Square & Company in Fall 2024. Kelly taught in the University of Wisconsin system for fifteen years and has taught at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival for over twenty-five years. Whether working with authors in person or online, Kelly is passionate about helping other writers achieve success. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and Oberlin College, Kelly grew up in San Pedro, California, and now divides her time between Madison, Wisconsin, and Los Angeles. Kelly also writes flash fiction and plays, which have been performed in New York City, Boston, and Glasgow. Feel free to visit http://www.kellydwyerauthor.com/

Events

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Killer Openings

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We know them when we read them. “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” “I am an invisible man.”** Killer Openings. But how do we write them ourselves?

In this weekend workshop, we’ll discuss the importance of not just a killer opening line, but also a strong opening paragraph, a compelling first few pages, and a powerful first chapter that moves our novels or memoirs forward. If we create “killer openings,” then agents will return our emails, editors will buy our manuscripts, readers will keep turning our pages, and pretty soon, we’ll be checking out real estate listings in the south of France. Right? But there’s another good reason for writing a compelling opening. When our first chapter includes all of the elements that will set up our novels or memoirs for success, then our books become that much easier to write, because our first chapter has become a road map.

This weekend workshop is for writers of all levels, from beginners who have never written a novel or memoir before, to intermediate authors who are in the process of revision, to advanced authors who are on their third book.

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The Popular Novel (In Any Genre)

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No matter what type of novel you’re interested in—literary, science fiction, paranormal, young adult, rom-com, mystery, etc.—you’d probably think it ideal if it had many readers. If it attracted buzz. If it were, in other words, popular. In this weeklong workshop, we’ll discuss the elements that make popular novels (across genres) so popular (according to bestseller lists and computer algorithms), and we’ll look at participants’ submissions with these elements in mind, to increase the odds that your own novels will become widely read. Our goal in this workshop is to help you plan or strengthen your ideas for novels so that they become works you’re not only proud of—but also works that just might enable you to buy that nice little château you have your eye on….

This weeklong class is best-suited for writers with some experience. (We define “experience” broadly. If you’ve taken workshops in fiction or narrative nonfiction, or you’ve established a writing practice on your own, or you’re familiar with the elements of narrative craft via some other means, you’re experienced!)

The class welcomes those with a novel already underway and those interested in generating new work.

While the class is focused on the novel, if writers writing memoirs or connected short story collections feel they would benefit from the class, they are welcome.

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Mending the Muddle of the Middle (Of the Novel)

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Maybe you’ve written a killer opening, and you have an idea for an electrifying ending. But now you’re in the sagging muddle of the middle of the novel, and you’re not sure how to find your way out.

We’ve all been there.

The middle can be a confusing spot in a book, when we may feel like we don’t have enough to say, or when we may feel like we’ve written too many words and we’ll never get to the ending.

In this weekend workshop, you’ll learn strategies to get your story back on track, so that you can propel towards that electrifying ending. You’ll respond to in-class exercises, which we’ll share on a volunteer basis. (We’ll read aloud, so no need to print out.) This class is focused on generating new material, but writers who are in the middle of a project are free to use their current work as springboards to complete the exercises and assignments. Intermediate and advanced writers who are already working on a novel might be best suited to attend. While the class is focused on the novel, memoirists who believe the class might be useful to them are welcome to attend.

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