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From First Draft to Final Pass: How to Be Your Own Editor

  • Iowa Writer's House 332 East Davenport Street Iowa City, IA, 52245 United States (map)

When: Friday, May 4, 6:00pm-7:30pm

Saturday, May 5, 9:30am-3:30pm (Lunch break at noon)

Sunday, May 6, 9:30am-3:30pm (Lunch break at noon)

Where:  Iowa Writers' House, 332 East Davenport St

Cost: $265


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, sustained tension, character development, and emotional complexity. In this workshop, award-winning fiction writer Calla Devlin will work with writers who have started down the path of writing a first draft, and will explore what it takes to finish a novel-length work, from refining 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 finishing a work of fiction. Together, we will generate new material and refine the writing generated in the workshop. Students will dig deep into craft and hone their skills. With a special focus on character, plot, voice, and narrative drive, students will have the opportunity to grow through writing exercises, reading (very short) pieces, sharing their work, and providing feedback for the other class members.




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 and 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.


All course information is sent to participants upon registering including confirmation of workshop times, location, and materials. Our workshop cancellation policy can be found here: