How 2 Writers Used Their Scholarships to Sharpen Revision Skills

Jan 4, 2024 | Scholarship Stories

Meet Christiana Doucette and Zahra Raza! Both received General Scholarships in 2022  and chose to take revision workshops. Zahra took Line Editing Your MG or YA Novel with Jennifer Gennari, and Christiana took Revising Your Verse Novel with Cordelia Jensen. Both are excited by what they learned and eager to continue to pursue publication.

Zahra’s Story

Zahra says: “I am a Gifted ELA teacher for Grades 3-5 working on my second MG manuscript, with the hopes of getting this one published. I have been taking Highlights courses for about 2 years now, since I was introduced to it through my writer’s group.”

She especially enjoys our two-night online mini courses: “I like that they are recorded so that I can watch when I have time. They have helped me understand the writing and publishing process.”

Of her scholarship experience, Zahra says “Line Editing was so helpful. I can see how much it has elevated my writing. I learned how to go thorough my writing line by line. It is a time-consuming process but the end product is much more promising. As I am editing my manuscript, I have learned how to organize my editing and focus the process to maximize how I adjust my story and write for effectiveness.”

A bonus for Zahra is sharing what she learned with her students: “I also use [what I learned] in the classroom as I teach my students. I have passed on several lessons to my fifth graders already!”

Christiana’s Story

Christiana Doucette loves exploring history, STEM, imagery, and emotion in her writing. She has placed as a poetry finalist, had her verse set to music by an opera composer, and had that music featured on an NPR news station. Christiana honed her writing craft as an SCBWI mentee of verse novelist Joy McCullough. In spring 2022 she served as a poetry judge for all age categories in the San Diego Writer’s Festival Kid’s Write contest, and loves finding ways to encourage young poets in their craft. When not writing, she can be found renovating an inherited dollhouse, exploring upstate South Carolina with her kids, or playing the piano.

Christiana says that it was a critique partner that first mentioned the Highlights Foundation to her. She had taken one other verse novel course with us and decided to apply for a scholarship to take another: “This scholarship meant so much to me. I found out I’d been selected for it right before signing with my literary agent. I’d already begun drafting my second novel-in-verse and I knew I wanted to take another verse novel course. Revising Your Verse Novel was so perfect for my needs. I loved learning from Cordelia, and I loved the peer-to-peer feedback and office hour each week.”

In addition to adding to her verse novel revision toolbox, Christiana learned things she can share with kids: ” One element of verse novel revision I had not realized before is how much the emotional resonance of the verse changes when you take a long poem and split it into several shorter ones. Seeing that in action in my classmates’ work, and then my own, was eye-opening!

“I also loved the optional beat-mapping/transformation test near the end. Working through my whole story so deliberately helped me identify weak spots, and places my pacing is off so that I can fix them. Since I have been a poetry judge for kids writing contests, I now bring this further knowledge and experience to future events, too.”

Visit Christiana’s website at https://

Photo of author Christiana Doucette

Our Mission in Action

Share Your Story, Inspire a Child
Equity & Inclusion in Kidlit
Partners & Sponsors

The Highlights Foundation positively impacts children by amplifying the voices of storytellers who inform, educate, and inspire children to become their best selves.  Learn more about our impact.