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Aug. 28–Dec. 4. 2021. The 99-Day Novel with Kelly Dwyer (Section I)

Time limit: 200 days

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Full course description



The 99-Day Novel with Kelly Dwyer (Section I)


Saturdays on Zoom:

August 28 (*Marching orders class!)

September 25

October 2

October 16

October 30

November 6

November 20

December 4



10:00 a.m.­–1:00 p.m. Central/Iowa Time (11:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m. Eastern; 8:00–11:00 a.m. Pacific; 9:00 a.m.–12:00 noon Mountain)

Fee: $950

Course Description

Faulkner and Dostoevsky did it. So did Kerouac. In more recent times, Erin Morgenstern and Sara Gruen achieved this (crazy!) accomplishment. What do these writers have in common? They wrote the first drafts of fantastic, best-selling books (including As I Lay Dying, On the Road, and The Night Circus) in 99 days or fewer. In this class, you too will write a draft of a novel in 99 days (or revise a novel you’ve already written)—one that, let’s hope, may be just as memorable and popular as these!

Our class will meet eight times over Zoom during the 99-day period. In addition to our Zoom sessions, our class will consist of readings from the book The 90 Day Novel or The 90 Day Novel Rewrite, writing assignments, discussions on Canvas, accountability check-ins, an individual conference with Kelly, and of course, a good deal of independent writing work. Writing assignments will range from short (500-word) exercises to longer (up to 1500-words) excerpts from your novels, all of which Kelly will provide feedback on.

Our Zoom class meetings will consist of a mixture of sharing our exercises, workshopping our novel excerpts, and lectures and discussions on various elements of the novel. (We will also surely spend some time discussing the joys and tribulations of writing or revising a novel in 99 days.)

After these 99-days, you will have created and shared exercises and pivotal scenes, and you will have written the first draft of a novel—or revised a novel in progress—that you may continue to work on and perfect. You will also feel a great sense of accomplishment at having started a novel before Labor Day and having finished a draft before the holidays.

This class is best suited for intermediate and advanced writers. For the purposes of this class, you are intermediate or advanced if you’ve taken creative writing workshops at the Festival or elsewhere, or you’ve read widely in the genre, or you’ve been laboring on your own on creative work for some time, or any combination of these.


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 taught in the University of Wisconsin system for fifteen years and has taught at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival for over 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 is now starting her second year of college. Please feel free to visit

Opening of Registration & Fees

Enrollment for this course opens Thursday, July 22 at 11:00 a.m. Central Time.

The fee for this course is $950 and includes a $250 nonrefundable deposit. See Refund & Cancellation Policy below. 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 must cancel your registration and you do so by Monday, August 16, 2021, you will receive a refund of your registration fees minus the $250 nonrefundable deposit. Thereafter, no refunds are available.

Terms & Community Policy

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 working remotely. If you phone and we miss you, please leave a message!