Choosing Your 2020 Novel Workshop at the Highlights Foundation

This year, we’re hosting a series of free webinars: FINDING THE RIGHT WORKSHOP FOR YOUR 2020 WRITING GOALS. First up: novel workshops.

No matter which novel course you end up taking, know that you can count on these things: craft focus, generous mentors, and a strong sense of community. We’re offering more than 25 workshops for novelists this year. How do you know which one is best for your 2020 goals? Here are some questions to point you towards the right one:

  1. Where are you on your journey as a novelist, and in your current project?
  2. Are you writing a specific format, genre, or, are you looking more generally at crafting a novel?
  3. How much feedback are you ready to receive?
  4. How much time do you want to revise while at the retreat?
  5. What time of year works best for you?

Watch the Webinar
There’s also a transcript below.

We have several novel workshops that are genre specific, or format specific. If your novel is otherworldly, then our Whole Novel retreat called Writing the Unreal might be for you. This workshop is for those who have finished a fantasy or speculative fiction novel, and are ready for a Whole Novel review of the manuscript. This is an application-based workshop, and we offer it twice in 2020. Applications for the May session are due by January 31, 2020.

In addition, science fiction middle grade novelists might be interested in Odyssey into MG Science Fiction. This new workshop would be just right for those beginning in the genre, as well as those who are more advanced. There will be feedback based on where you are on your journey: idea phase, or well into a draft.

If fantasy isn’t for you, perhaps our workshop on contemporary novels will feel just right: Contemporary Novels: Sweet, Sophisticated, and their Storylines focuses on what makes writing contemporary stories for teens ages 12-19 work. There are multiple opportunities for feedback at this workshop, and it is just perfect for those starting out in contemporary stories, or those who are well into their story.

Our Novels in Verse workshops are perfect for those using this limiting, yet limitless approach to storytelling. We have three offerings for verse novels: two online, and one retreat. All will take a look at the structure of novels in verse, as well as how to generate a storyline within a verse novel. Our brand new retreat called Pushing the Limits: Writing Experimental Novels for YA and MG Readers also includes information about novels in verse, as well as graphic novels, vignettes, ways to play with form, with structure, with chronology, and ways to intertwine genres. This workshop is for those novels that seem to break all the rules… in the best possible ways!

Essential Conversations
We also have workshops for novelists as part of our Essential Conversations series. These include our Symposium for Jewish Children’s Literature on identity and story, as well as our Writing the Rainbow retreat for our LGBTQIA+ novel community, and our LatinX Writers: A Working Symposium. Both the Symposium in Jewish Children’s Literature and the Writing the Rainbow retreat are specifically for novelists, while our LatinX program will cover picture books, nonfiction, and novels. All will feature rich conversations about identity, community, and craft.

Our general workshops for novelists can be broken into 4 parts: just starting out, well into a draft, finished drafts, and beyond…

In Process
If you are just starting out in writing novels, we have a number of workshops for you:
Crafting a Successful Beginning for Your Novel offers feedback on the first 50 pages of the novel. Even more so, it takes you through the needs of the first chapter, the first page, and even the first line.

Another good choice for those starting their novel, and needing help taking it through to the end, would be our Getting Your MG or YA Novel Unstuck. This workshop is great for writers who have had a lot of feedback on those first ten pages, but now need help pushing forward, with a focus on outlining the middle and end.

Similar in focus on plot, our Plot Like a Film uses screenwriting tips to help develop your story from beginning to end. This one is great for those with an idea, and not quite sure how to plot it out as a story, but is also helpful for those of us who want to learn more about what it means to use a three-act structure to write our novels.

Getting to Know Your Novel, along with our Summer Camp in Fiction, are two evergreen type courses for novelists. Take them once, take them again. Appropriate for those just starting out, and beyond. Our Summer Camp in Fiction features a number of celebrated fiction writers and poets. Summer Camp offers you daily mentorship on your novel (or novels), as well as inspirational keynotes, and craft focused breakout sessions.

Getting to Know Your Novel could be taken every time you need to embark on writing a new novel, as well as when you are just starting out. You’ll learn about characters, and voice, and pacing, and setting goals, and so much more. This workshop takes place in two parts, online and on campus. With feedback on the first chapter, your synopsis, and on the first 50 pages.

If you are drafting a novel, you could certainly take any of the above to help you with your first draft. But when you are ready to start revising BIG PICTURE-wise, you’ll want to think about attending one of our revision-focused retreats. We have our Filling the Writers Toolbox with Emma Dryden that will walk your novel through the paces, examining each component of the novel, and outlining your TO DO list for revision. In addition we have our Revision Retreat, which for the first time in its long history with the Highlights Foundation will take place both online and in person. Broken into 4-parts, this intense revision workshop not only offers strategies for revision, but time on campus to get to work. And, also new this year, is our online workshop introducing novelists to line editing. Look for all of our online-only workshops to jump onto our website in February 2020.

Getting Ready for Submission
So, let’s say, you’ve written the drafts, all 10…35…40…of them, and you’ve revised and revised, so close to that project that you can’t seem to grasp it clearly any longer. You need someone to help you cross the finish line! Enter our Whole Novel workshops, Novel Writing with Patti Gauch, and From Premise to Pitch: Get Submission Ready with Two Seasoned Agents.

In both the Whole Novel and From Premise to Pitch you must have a finished novel. This novel has been a part of you for a while, and now you are focused on submission. In the Whole Novel, you will receive a whole novel critique from one of our 5 mentors, plus workshopping pages in Rob Costello and Nicole Valentine’s BRAIN TRUST. Here you’ll jumpstart the day with writing activities, find time to work on revisions, and meet one-to-one with your mentor many times. If you’ve taken one of the novel workshops I’ve already mentioned, and you are ready to shine it for submission, this is the one. It is an application-based class. We can take 20 total students into our general MG and YA Whole Novel, and 16 total students into our Writing the Unreal Whole Novel programs.

From Premise to Pitch is new to us this year. You’ll meet with agents and an editor to look at the synopsis, novel components, and pitch to be sure that it is ready to start sending out. You might find out that you are ready!! Woohoo!! Or, that you have some work to do to get your novel in the best shape it can be in to be received by an agent or editor.

Beyond & Building Your Career
That leaves 4 workshops that we might call THE BEYOND! These workshops, just like all of our novel workshops, have supportive faculty, craft lessons, and strong community, but they are for our professionals who wish to deepen their knowledge of the industry. We know that novelists want to create more than one book, they want many. Any of the workshops listed already are helpful on this journey, but you might also be looking for something to feed the author-career side, too.

Perhaps you need our From Sale to Shelf online workshop for your debut year? Or our Crafting Successful Author & Illustrator Visits, which will help with your public speaking and taking your novel into schools to work with middle grades and high school students. Maybe you are in need of rich conversation, and personal reflection, that will help you as you work with other writers, teachers, and librarians. You’ll learn from Laura M. Jiménez, Edith Campbell, Cristina Rhodes, and special guests Debbie Reese, Yuyi Morales, and Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich about Disrupting Youth Literature, with our common read this year of the Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo.

Finally, for those seeking a community retreat with other authors, you can attend Gather. This five-day workshop is part inspiration, part retreat, with two-hour morning lectures and hands-on sessions, and afternoons dedicated to your own writing. Novelists at this year’s event include Meg Medina, Jennifer Jacobson, picture book author and soon to be graphic novelist Mike Curato, and poet Carole Boston Weatherford, among others. You must be published to attend this workshop.

If you’re still undecided, you can visit our Upcoming Workshops for detailed descriptions, faculty bios, and information about our extensive scholarship program. Our website has a new filtering feature where you can filter by genre, subject, career level and more.

You can also contact one of our Ambassadors to get individual help in finding your perfect workshop: Cat Galeano, Rona Shirdan, Alex Villasante, or program assistant Jo Lloyd. They will work with you one-to-one to find the perfect course for you to help accomplish your 2020 writing goals. What’s more, they can assist with information about the Highlights Foundation experience, and with details about our scholarship program.

One last thing: if you register for a workshop before January 31, use code BUCKETLIST to get $100 off!

Download a pdf outlining the 2020 novel workshop choices.


Posted on: January 10, 2020