Developing Dynamic Characters: Live ISWF Class Over Zoom 

I'm teaching a new live class over Zoom the last weekend of April through the University of Iowa


Come write with me!

xo Kelly

Zoom selfie
Lonely picture of me by myself on Zoom. Keep me company, please!


Developing Dynamic Characters (Weekend Workshop)

Kelly Dwyer, Instructor

Dates/Time: Friday, April 28–Sunday, April 30, 2023


Introductory Meeting and Overview, Friday on Zoom:


  • 7:00–8:00 p.m. Iowa/Central Time
  • 8:00–9:00 p.m. Eastern Time
  • 5:00–6:00 p.m. Pacific Time
  • 6:00–7:00 p.m. Mountain Time

Workshop Meetings, Saturday & Sunday on Zoom:


  • 11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. Iowa/Central Time
  • 12:00–5:00 p.m. Eastern Time
  • 9:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m. Pacific Time
  • 10:00 a.m.–3:00 a.m. Mountain Time


Saturday and Sunday meetings include a one-hour break. Class meets for four hours each day.


*International students should get in touch with Kelly if you would like to take the workshop but cannot make Friday night’s intro session. 

Course Description 

Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. Toni Morrison’s Sula. Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. Richard Wright’s Invisible Man. Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennett. Jade Chang’s Charles Wang. Salinger’s Holden Caulfield. Junot Diaz’s Oscar Wao. Steigg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander. Nabokov’s Humbert Humbert. Jeanette Winterson’s Jeanette. Malinda Lo’s Ash. Murakami’s Oshima. …

Dynamic characters. We may love them, hate them, or love to hate them, but by the end of the novels or memoirs in which they star, we feel like we know them better than we know our friends or family—and maybe even ourselves. They’re filled with contradictions, and yet they feel real. They linger long after we’ve finished their stories. And they change, going through a transformation that carries the plot of their books. How do we go about creating and developing such complex, memorable, and dynamic characters ourselves?

In this weekend workshop, we’ll discuss how to create memorable characters, and how to deepen characters we may already be working wit h. We’ll discuss how character relates to plot, and how, in creating a character arc, we’re also creating a plot outline that will help us map out (or revise) our stories, novels, or memoirs.

The weekend workshop will include lectures, discussions, exercises, and assignments, which writers will be encouraged to share on a volunteer basis. The workshop is for writers of all levels, from beginners who are just starting out, to intermediate authors who are in the process of revision, to advanced authors who may have already completed a book (or two or three) …

Writers are free to “bring” a character they’re already working with or to create a new one from scratch. The exercises and assignments will be adapted to your needs either way. This is a mostly generative workshop in which we will be working on new material, but writers are free to revise material if they prefer.

Writers will leave the workshop with an understanding of what makes a dynamic character, and will have already begun to write or revise a complex, memorable, and dynamic character themselves.

Copyright free photo by Roberto Carlos Rom├ín Don from Unsplash 


 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 years. Whether 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 Boston, New York, and Glasgow. Feel free to visit



Registration & Fees


The fee for this course is $350. Payment in full is required to register.

Registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Class size is limited to 10.


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.”



Refund & Cancellation Policy


If you need to cancel your enrollment, please let us know as soon as possible. We can only offer full refunds if you cancel one week prior to the start of class. After that, before the start-date of class, we can offer a 50% refund. We cannot refund day-of cancellations, and we cannot refund or partially refund registration fees once the class has begun.



Terms & Community Policy


1.   The Iowa Summer Writing Festival is a program for adults. You must be at least 18 years old to enroll in Festival workshops.


2.   The Iowa Summer Writing Festival is a community built on an assumption of shared enterprise, in the spirit of mutual respect. We reserve the right to a) revoke the registration of or b) dismiss from the program any person who disrupts the learning/working environment of others. Participants in the Festival are subject to all University of Iowa policies governing conduct in our community, whether online or in person. 





Contact the Iowa Summer Writing Festival: Phone: (319) 335-4160.


Our tiny staff is out and about. If you phone and we miss you, please leave a detailed message!

If you have any questions for me, the instructor, please contact me at 

We hope to see you over Zoom in April!

Copyright free photo by Mark Olsen from Unsplash

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