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Getting to Know Your Character vs. Your Novel: What’s the Difference?


We have two online courses starting in January and February with pretty similar names, both taught by the same lead faculty Sarah Aronson

Both are designed to help you make significant progress on your story by diving deep into craft and your own ideas in a meaningful way.  They are among our more in-depth online course offerings for writers, spanning multiple weeks to create a sustained atmosphere of support and accountability.

If you are working on a draft of your story and you want to finish it in 2022, these courses can really help.  And if you’re trying to figure out which one to take, choosing can be a bit confusing!  So we made an outline of the similarities and differences between the workshops to help.

Difference: Type of Writer

Getting to Know Your Character is suitable for writers in all formats, including picture books (fiction and nonfiction), chapter books, and novels.
 
Getting to Know Your Novel will work for chapter book writers and novelists (both middle grade and young adult).
 
You can be at any point in your draft for either course, but should have some formed ideas about your characters/story to explore in order to get the most out of the experience.

Difference: Topics Covered

Getting to Know Your Character will delve purely into character, the foundation for every aspect of your story.  This will include:
  • Getting to Know Your Main Character
  • The Influence of Secondary Characters
  • Seeing Characters Through Scene
  • Strengthening Your Characters (with the help of outlines, storyboards, and other tricks)

Lectures will be followed by Q&A sessions and complimented by writing exercises (two per week).  You’ll connect with peers via a community forum and optional office hours.

Getting to Know Your Novel will also include a lot of character work, but will delve into themes and scene work as well.  This will include:
  • Theme & YOU
  • Characters & Plot
  • Secondary Characters at Center Stage
  • Scene Work: Flashbacks, Prologue, Action, & Incredible Endings

Lectures will be followed by Q&A sessions and complimented by writing exercises (two per week).  You’ll connect with peers via a community forum and optional office hours. 

Difference: Length

The workshops both have the same amount of lecture time, but Getting to Know Your Novel is three weeks longer (7 weeks vs. 4 weeks).  Much of the additional time is dedicated to revision and reading time to prepare for a small group workshopping session, described below.

Getting to Know Your Character is shorter, but with formal feedback delivered post course (also described below).

Difference: Feedback Format

Getting to Know Your Character: Culminates in formal written feedback by a reader/agent after the course
 
This course will include informal feedback from faculty and peers throughout, and culminate in formal feedback by a reader/agent on your cover letter, synopsis, and the first 10 pages of your work in progress post-course. 
 
These submissions will be due between February 9 – 16, with written feedback returned to you within 4 – 6 weeks.
 
Getting to Know Your Novel: Culminates in a small group workshopping session, with built in time to revise and read fellow submissions during the course
 
This course will provide multiple opportunities for feedback throughout, culminating in a small group workshopping session of your synopsis and first chapter at the end of the course.  These small groups will be comprised of your peers and facilitated by faculty in order to get the most out of the discussions about your work and your remaining questions.
 
Submissions will be due March 15.  Between the final lecture and your submission for the workshopping session, you will have time to implement your revisions and reach out for advice and support (and read the submissions of your fellow small group members).

Difference: Logistics

Getting to Know Your Character features lectures and Q&A on Wednesdays.   These will be at 12-1:30pm EST on January 12, 19, and 26, and 7pm – 8:30pm EST on February 2.
 
Getting to Know Your Novel features lectures and Q&A on Tuesdays at 12-1:30pm EST (February 15, 22, and March 1, 8).
 
Closed captioning will be available for all, and recordings will also be made available in your virtual classroom if you cannot attend these sessions live.
 
Optional live office hours are available throughout both courses on Mondays at 12 – 1pm EST.

Difference: Guests

Both courses are led by Sarah Aronson, a thorough and generous member of the Highlights Foundation faculty.

For Getting to Know Your Character she’ll welcome special guests agent Kelly Dyksterhouse, agent Linda Camacho, and author Alicia D. Williams.
 
For Getting to Know Your Novel she’ll welcome special guests author Nicole Valentine, author K.X. Song, and author Meera Treehan.

Course Outlines: A Last Look

Here is all the information above distilled into bullet points for your reference.

 Getting to Know Your Character 
  • All writers (Picture Books to Novels)
  • Helpful at any point in your draft
  • 4 weeks online
  • Topics are all about character: main & secondary (Live lectures are on Wednesdays: January 12, 19, 26 at 12-1:30pm EST, and February 2 at 7pm – 8:30pm EST)
  • Optional Live Office Hours (Mondays at 12 – 1pm EST; January 17, 24, and 31)
  • Post-Course Formal written Feedback by a Reader/Agent (cover letter, synopsis and first 10 pages)
  • Starts January 12
  • $599
  • Register now.
Getting to Know Your Novel
  • For those writing novels or chapter books
  • Helpful at any point in your draft
  • 7 weeks online
  • Topics are about theme, character and scene work (Live Lectures are Tuesdays at 12-1:30pm EST; February 15, 22, and March 1, 8)
  • Optional live office hours (Mondays at 12-1pm EST; February 21, 28; March 7, 14, 21)
  • Time built into the course to revise before your submission, and read your small group submissions 
  • Feedback in Live Small Group Workshopping Sessions with peers and faculty (synopsis and first chapter)
  • Starts February 15
  • $699
  • Register now.

Choosing Between the Two

If you’re a picture book writer, your answer is pretty clear: Getting to Know Your Character.  (Unless you want to see other picture book offerings, too!)

If you’re writing a chapter book or a novel, the choice is harder.  You can consider:

If you need more help deciding, or want to compare these workshops against a complete list of offerings, contact an Ambassador.

Getting to Know Your Character Faculty

Getting to Know Your Novel

Posted on: January 5, 2022

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