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Iowa Summer Writing Festival—Flash Fiction in a Flash: Writing (and Submitting) Publishable Flash Fiction with Kelly Dwyer is a Course

Iowa Summer Writing Festival—Flash Fiction in a Flash: Writing (and Submitting) Publishable Flash Fiction with Kelly Dwyer

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Full course description

Flash Fiction in a Flash: Writing (and Submitting) Publishable Flash Fiction—Kelly Dwyer, Instructor


Saturdays on Zoom, 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. Central Time

(11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. Eastern; 8:00–10:00 a.m. Pacific)

Saturday, November 21–Saturday, December 12, 2020




Flash fiction is fiction that tells a story in a flash—anywhere from six words (“For Sale. Baby Shoes. Never worn.”—attributed to Hemingway) to under a thousand words. In this four-week online Zoom workshop, we will discuss what flash fiction is and what makes it so interesting, we’ll study and discuss some examples, and of course, we’ll complete exercises and assignments, writing some flash of our own that will surprise even its authors!

The wonderful thing about this genre is that you can be anywhere in your process—from someone who has never written a fictional or poetic word, to someone who has published three novels—to benefit from its joys and restraints. Our goal is to leave our time together with a number of finished pieces of fiction, ready to submit to magazines, that tell stories in a beautiful, breath-taking flash.


Class structure and objectives: Our class will meet weekly on Zoom. Each class will include a lesson, a discussion, an assignment, in-class exercises, and a workshop of every participant’s work. (We will share—not workshop—flash fictions we write in class. We will workshop assignments writers complete over the week and post on our discussion board in advance of class.) Writers will receive weekly written feedback from Kelly on each of their submissions, and Kelly will also hold a 30-minute (Zoom or phone) conference with each writer. By the end of the workshop, participants will not only have flash fiction pieces they are ready to send out, they will also know where to send them. Participants will have gained confidence in their writing and, in some cases, have overcome writer’s block; they will remember what it’s like to write for fun and joy as well as publication; and finally, they will enjoy some stress release and camaraderie doing something delightful for themselves during the holidays.


This workshop is for writers at all levels! Beginners will learn to write creatively in an unintimidating environment, while advanced writers will hone their skills and crafts in a genre that helps improve writing in general. Our emphasis will be on generating new material.




Class meets on Zoom 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. Central Time:


Saturday, November 21

Saturday, November 28

Saturday, December 5

Saturday, December 12


Please download Zoom before class begins. Feel free to set up a quick meeting with Kelly before class starts to make sure you are comfortable with Zoom before we meet for the first time.


Your 30-minute individual conference with your instructor will be scheduled in the latter part of the course.




Kelly Dwyer is finishing her third novel, Ghost Mother, and is the author of The Tracks of Angels and Self-Portrait with Ghosts, published by Penguin Putnam and Hodder & Stoughton, London. Her short plays have been produced in Madison, Wisconsin; Boston; New York, and Glasgow. She also writes flash fiction, mostly based on the Disney Princesses at middle age.

Kelly teaches in the University of Wisconsin system during the academic year and has taught at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival for about twenty years—and looks forward to it all year. Like many participants, Kelly has been missing the Festival and its people, and is grateful for the opportunity to connect with Festival participants online.


Having grown up in Southern California, Kelly lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with her husband, pug, and daughter, whom she used to take to the Festival in a Bjorn, and who has now started her first year of college. Please feel free to visit


What Festival participants say about working with Kelly:


The outcome [of this workshop] was beyond my wildest expectations. It was like magic. Kelly Dwyer is an amazing leader/educator/facilitator. You couldn’t have hand-picked twelve more different writers or stories. Kelly successfully juggled, nurtured, and guided us all with skill, intelligence, good humor (lots of that), and kindness. She kept us on task, carefully guarding the time so everyone received equal time to discuss and share their projects. Kelly was extremely knowledgeable concerning plot development and the writing process, and always had something helpful to say. I benefitted from her knowledge regardless of whether it was my own piece of writing being discussed or that of someone else in the class. She slipped in the examples and offered possibilities that stretched all of us. Kelly was wise and respectful, and generous with her talents throughout the week. She was also willing and very funny. One could not ask for more.


—Michael L., 2019


Kelly is an exceptional teacher—great listener—positive and encouraging and yet analytical and constructive in her comments and interactions. She was very well structured, organized, and collaborative while keeping a clear focus and at an appropriate level.


—Karen W., 2019


Outstanding workshop! It’s what I needed at this time of life as I once again pick up books and resume writing.


—Anne G., 2019


Fabulous workshop—the content was exactly what had been missing from my previous writing education—concrete, hands-on work on plot and structure. Kelly was amazing. Lots of great advice, very kind to everyone, and great time management. It’s not easy to find someone who can so effectively manage chatty, opinionated writers in a cheerful and very fair manner. This workshop was exactly what I was hoping for based on the description.


—Maria H., 2019




The fee for this course is $450. Payment in full is required to enroll in the course.

Registration opens Thursday, October 29.

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 WritingMagid Center” or “IA YOUTH WRITING PROJECT.”


Cancellation Policy: A $100 cancellation fee will be applied to refunds for cancellations received by Saturday, November 14. Thereafter, no refunds are available. 



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


Our tiny staff is working remotely. If you phone and we miss you, please leave a message. We will return your call!