I worked with close to fifty writers in my two weekend and two weeklong workshops at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival this June and July.  I taught a class on dialogue ("Better Talky-Talky: The Art & Craft of Dialogue") with this fantastic group below, which included a Catholic priest, a Lutheran minister, a horse lover, a recent college grad, etc., fabulous writers, all...

Then I taught a weeklong class on Plotting the Novel. Some writers came having already written drafts. One writer came without a clear idea of what she wanted to write about, and we brainstormed ideas. Most writers were somewhere in between. We spent the week plotting, so that they left with the tools and structure to go home and write or finish their awesome books. I loved it when Ellie said, "I came here with 99 problems and Kelly solved 97 of them!"  (That means that Ellie is doing better than Jay-Z at this point. Go, Ellie!) Here we are pictured in front of one of the many amazing Aristotelian plot outlines we workshopped over the week...

Flash Fiction is always a fun class for me to teach, partly because I find the form so satisfying that I love sharing my passion with others. It's a great form for me to write my Disney Princesses at Middle Age stories. And I find that almost all writers, even those with very little experience, write really well when they're forced to write with brevity, making every word count. The writers in this class, from beginning writers to advanced authors, were no exception; they all wrote publishable flash pieces that I hope they'll be sending out very soon so that the world can read their beautiful works.

I wish I'd taken a group picture of my Novel in a Week class. Somehow the week got away from me. I guess that happens when you try to write a novel in a week. We came to Iowa with a plot outline, created a character arc, wrote or revised an opening scene, wrote or took notes on what the climax needed to accomplish, created or heightened an oppositional force, and wrote, revised, or contemplated the ending. No wonder I didn't have time to take a group picture! But a waiter at the festival dinner did namange to snap this one of the participants who remained to chat a while after Thursday's dinner was over, after many of the others went back to their hotel rooms to write book jackets. (Slave driver, I know...) This was another fantastic class.

You would think that out of fifty writers, there would be some themes that would come up again and again, some voices that would feel stale, some stories that would be repetitious. But you would be wrong. Every writer I worked with had a different story to tell, a unique voice, and a different way of looking at the world.

And as the park bench says, DIFFERENT IS GOOD.

I loved all of their stories, and I loved all of the people I met at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival.
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