Getting To Know Your Novel Online Course (Feb-Apr) Plus Onsite Retreat (May 30-June 3) 2020

February 3 - June 3, 2020

Please note: this course is full. Please click here to be placed on our waiting list.

Join Us To:

Deepen your understanding of the pillars of a novel, and apply your knowledge as you workshop your own novel. Receive an in-depth critique of up to 50 pages (plus additional roundtable critiques) to get it ready for agents and editors. Your full 50 page submission will be read by the faculty and you will have a private consultation with an editor or agent.

What You’ll Learn:

Start with your complete or well-in progress novel, and workshop it with author and writing teacher Sarah Aronson. Author Tiffany D. Jackson and special guest Liz Kossnar will be at the onsite retreat to share feedback and lectures on writing.

Part 1: Online
February 3-April 26

  • Learning and focus on plot, complex characters, and voice.
  • Weekly online discussions, lectures/videos, and writing exercises to learn and begin workshopping your novel.

Part 2: Work With Support

  • Write and revise with what you’ve learned so far, plus faculty support as needed (up to two private calls.)
  • Submit up to 50 pages of your work, plus a chapter-by-chapter synopsis for critique (in preparation for the on-site portion.)

Part 3: Workshop at our Retreat Center
May 30-June 3

  • Meet all the new friends you’ve gained!
  • Bring any additional work you’ve completed.
  • Receive and work through your critique (up to 50 pages plus a chapter-by-chapter synopsis.)
  • Get more mentorship through your next round of revisions.
  • Get your novel ready for agents and publishers.

Attend If:

  • You’ve got a complete or near-complete novel draft. You’ll get the most out of this workshop if you’re at this stage. You need to be ready to workshop it in earnest, and eager to get it ready for agents/publishers.
  • You’re willing to work! This program is best for those who will dedicate time and attention to the writing exercises and their critique submission.
  • You want mentor and peer support to bring out the best in yourself and your novel. If you’re intimidated by critiques, it’s ok! Sarah and her team are generous, warm, and effective.
  • You’ve taken some previous novel workshops with us. If you have taken one of of these workshops you may find this course of special interest: Novel Beginnings; Summer Camp in Fiction; Building Sweet & Sophisticated YA; Novels in Verse.

Agenda & More Details

Part 1: Online, February 3-April 26

  • Weekly sessions in a web classroom, including lectures and videos (self-paced; attend anytime.)
  • Online discussions (Sarah will facilitate and respond to questions.)
  • Writing exercises.
  • Sarah will check in with each student via email weekly, to answer questions and give direction.
  • You will submit excerpts of your novel as needed, for feedback.
  • Sarah will schedule two phone calls with each student during this period.

Here’s a list of the online sessions (subject to change):
Lecture 1: Power of Play
Lecture 2: Character
Lecture 3: Structure is Freedom
Lecture 4: Great Beginnings
Lecture 5: Secondary Characters and Subplot
Lecture 6: Tension and Time
Lecture 7: Dialogue
Lecture 8: Voice

Part 2: Writing and Revising On Your Own, April/May

  • You’ll apply all you learned in Part 1 to your novel–finishing up your draft or revision in preparation for your in-person visit to our Retreat Center.
  • Sarah will be available via phone or email to answer further questions and offer support.
  • Submission deadline: April 26. You will submit up to 50 pages of your novel, plus a chapter-by-chapter synopsis, so that the team can get ready for your in-person critique.
  • The faculty will read up to 50 pages and your synopsis and you will have a private consultation with an editor or an agent.

Part 3: Workshop at our Retreat Center, May 30-June 3

  • Bring your novel to our Retreat Center, where the team will mentor you through your next round of revisions.
  • Receive and work through your critiques.
  • Each morning will kick off with a general session of lectures and writing exercises.
  • Afternoons are reserved for writing and small group roundtable critique sessions.
  • Each night will end with a chance for you to share your work with faculty and peers.

A Note About Highlights Workshop Agendas


8 Articles to Help You Write a Kidlit Novel
Podcast: Sarah Aronson talks about getting to know your novel and Rube Goldberg
Faculty Interview: Sarah Aronson
Listen for Stories
Transform Introspection into Dialogue
Eulogy Virtues


“This is by far the most supportive and professional workshop I’ve ever been to – I felt nurtured and more than achieved my goals.”

“Sarah’s warmth, generosity, responsiveness, and great insights made this class one of the most outstanding I have ever taken. She set not only the structure but most importantly the tone that made this workshop so successful from its online beginning to its in-person culmination.”

“Sarah is a thoughtful teacher who is generous with her time. She truly cares about her students!”

Scholarships Available

Scholarships are available for this workshop:
Application deadline is December 5, 2020. Scholarships will be announced January 4, 2020.
Click here to apply!
For more information about scholarships, click here.


Sarah Aronson

Sarah Aronson has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and has…
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Tiffany D. Jackson

Tiffany D. Jackson is the author of the critically acclaimed, NAACP Image Award-nominated Allegedly; Monday’s Not Coming; and Let Me…
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An Na

Special Guest An Na was born in South Korea and grew up in San Diego, California. She is the author…
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Liz Kossnar

Special Guest Liz Kossnar enthusiastically joined the Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers editorial team in November 2013. She…
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Melanie J. Fishbane

Teaching Assistant Melanie J. Fishbane holds an M.F.A. in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of…
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Jim Hill

Teaching Assistant Jim Hill holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine…
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All-inclusive registration includes workshop tuition, lodging, meals, beverages, and snacks. Free shuttle service is available from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (AVP) International Airport. Airport pick-up at Newark Airport is also available for $75 round-trip.

We offer payment plans as low as $75/month. We'll be in touch with details after you register.

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workshop information

The onsite retreat begins with dinner on Saturday, May 30 and ends with lunch on Wednesday, June 3.