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The Craft of Fiction

  • The Wallace House 756 16th Street Des Moines, IA, 50314 United States (map)

When: Friday, November 3rd, 6:00pm-7:30pm

Saturday, November 4th, 9:30am-3:30pm (Lunch break at noon)

Sunday, November 5th, 9:30am-3:30pm (Lunch break at noon)

Where: The Wallace House, 756 16th St, Des Moines, IA 50314

Cost: $265 ($235 early bird pricing through September 1st)


Every story of every length has four main ingredients: beginning, middle, end and transformation. For longer works of fiction, especially novels, more ingredients are added to the recipe, including: momentum and pacing, sustaining tension, character development, and emotional complexity. In this workshop, award-winning fiction writer Calla Devlin will explore how to tackle that big idea and what it takes to finish a novel-length work, from outlining a first draft to putting the finishing touches on a manuscript ready for submission.

The purpose of this workshop, open to all levels of experience, is to focus on the craft of fiction, allowing each student to learn the basics of novel writing. Together, we will generate new material and refine the writing generated in the workshop. Beginners will learn the elements of fiction and more advanced students will dig deep into craft and hone their skills. With a special focus on character, plot, voice, and narrative drive, each student will have the opportunity to grow through writing exercises, reading (very short) pieces, sharing your work, as well as providing feedback for the other members of the class.


Calla Devlin is the author of Tell Me Something Real, a finalist for the American Library Association’s Morris Award, and Right Where You Left Me (Simon & Schuster/Atheneum). A Pushcart nominee and winner of the Best of Blood and Thunder Award, her short stories have been included in numerous literary journals and anthologies.
In addition to holding an MFA in fiction and teaching graduate level writing workshops, Calla has an extensive literary background ranging from writing to bookselling to teaching to publishing. She co-coordinated one of the most prestigious reading series in the country for Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon. As Associate Director for Marketing and Publicity, she sat on the acquisitions boards of HarperCollins and Chronicle Books, executed publicity and marketing campaigns for novels, short story collections, memoirs, and narrative nonfiction.
Visit her at


Novels can be as daunting as Mt. Everest, but in a nurturing and supportive environment, writers of all levels can feel supported to make the climb. I aim to create three magical days of creativity and craft, where a room full of writers will feel inspired and prepared to go home and start (and finish!) the novel they have been dreaming of.


Everyone has a story to tell. If you are financially unable to attend this workshop, scholarships are available through our generous partners and donors. Apply here.


Helping another person attend a workshop is helping them achieve their dreams. Thank you for making our world a better place.


Earlier Event: November 1
The Healing in Story
Later Event: November 8
The Power of Wonder