Getting Your Middle Grade or Young Adult Novel Unstuck Online Workshop 2020

May 17 - 20, 2020

Online Course Info:

This is a four-day online workshop that features evening “live” lectures, discussions, online Q&A sessions in addition to daily online roundtable critique sessions, hands-on writing exercises and pre-recorded faculty lectures.

Online Workshop Participant Cap:

18 students.

Join Us Online To:

Explore, revise, and polish your work-in-progress. Learn tools to strengthen your novel, with a focus on character development, plotting and outlining, revision, journaling, and improvisation/play. Have 30-minute online sessions in roundtable critique led by Erin Dionne or Chris Tebbetts. Participate in online peer-to-peer roundtables and attend a Q&A session with our guest editor.

What You’ll Learn & Experience:

Two seasoned authors of middle grade and young adult fiction (Erin Dionne and New York Times best-selling author Chris Tebbetts), along with their guests, editor Karen Boss and YA author Alex Villasante, will share their writers’ toolbox for getting unstuck, with a focus on character development, plotting and outlining, revision, journaling, and improvisation/play.

During this online workshop, you will:

  • Attend evening “live” lectures and discussion sessions via Zoom on May 17-20.
  • Hear faculty lectures and panels targeted to move you past whatever novel point has you feeling stuck.
  • Complete hands-on writing exercises.
  • Attend an online Q & A with guest editor Karen Boss.
  • Have online sessions in roundtable critique led by Erin Dionne or Chris Tebbetts at 30-minutes per writer.
  • Participate in online peer-to-peer roundtables at 30-minutes per writer.
  • Then work through pre-recorded sessions on plot, outlining, characters, and more at your own pace in an online course platform.

Note: Before the workshop, you will be asked to submit for critique a 10-12 page manuscript excerpt (no more than 3000 words), a 1-2 paragraph story summary, and a cover letter. This will be circulated to workshop attendees and faculty beforehand to facilitate roundtable critiques.

Join Us If:

  • You are stuck in the middle of a middle grade or young adult novel draft with no idea of where to go next. Our faculty will share their writers’ toolbox for getting unstuck, and give you hands-on exercises to help you move forward.
  • You’ve jotted down ideas for a novel but can’t get your story off the ground. We’ll get you started! Lectures and hands-on activities will help you with plotting and outlining, journaling and improvisation.
  • You’re ready to work! You’ll get the most benefit from this course if you’re ready to revise.
  • You want an online experience that is more intimate than a self-paced online course. This course has community workshopping, roundtable critique, and faculty touchpoint opportunities built-in.

Still not sure if this is the right course for you? Watch a video where Program Director Alison Green Myers shares details about the novel workshops we’re offering in 2020 that are good for novelists who are just getting started.


Tentative Schedule–Zoom Links Will Be Provided on May 10, 2020.
LIVE May 17 via Zoom
5:30pm (EST): Welcome and Introductions
6:00pm (EST): Opening Workshop: Play and Improv with Chris Tebbetts
7:30pm (EST): Review structure of class and days (including critiques)

May 18
Throughout the day: Critique Roundtable Sessions (Separate schedule provided) via Zoom

LIVE May 18 via Zoom
5:30pm (EST): Facilitated panel: Writing Prompts and “Daily” Practice
6:00pm (EST): Lecture and Workshop: Character Development with Erin Dionne
7:30pm (EST): Getting the most out of Thinkific
Thinkific pre-recorded lessons will open for students to work through over 30 days.

LIVE May 19 via Zoom
5:30pm (EST): Facilitated panel: Publishing Q & A with all faculty
6:00pm (EST): Lecture: Putting Meat on the Bones with Karen Boss
7:00pm (EST): Q & A with Karen Boss
7:30pm (EST): Open Mic: 500 words

LIVE May 20 via Zoom
5:30pm (EST): Revision discussion, followed by lecture with Erin Dionne
6:30pm (EST): Lecture with Alex Villasante
7:30pm (EST): Q & A with faculty
8:00pm (EST): Goal setting: faculty and students

Thinkific Sessions:
Romeo at the Balcony: Persistence and Optimism in Pursuit of the Ideal with Chris Tebbetts
Plot and Outlines with Chris Tebbetts
Chapters and Scenes that Propel the Reader with Erin Dionne
+All LIVE sessions and materials brought into Thinkific page

Craft Books Referenced During the Program:
Write Your Novel From The Middle by James Scott Bell
Story Genius by Lisa Cron
The Anatomy of Story by John Truby
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
On Writing by Stephen King
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Freeplay by Stephen Nachmanovitch
Save the Cat by Blake Snyder
Art Matters by Neil Gaiman, illus. by Chris Riddell
Wonderbook by Jeff VanderMeer
The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler


Chris Tebbetts: Visual Outlining
Chris Tebbetts: As Simple As Possible: Three Ways To Tighten Your Prose
5 Ways to Reclaim Your Creative Joy
Step Away From Your Manuscript & Shake Things Up With Writers’ Bingo
Breaking Through Those Creative Blocks


“I attend a number of workshops, conferences and presentations each year. This has been the best I have been to for a number of reasons. The instructors were amazing–generous with their expertise. The materials they presented were smart, helpful, practical, fun, and (often) moving. They created a supportive environment by being willing to listen to everyone and to share their own vulnerabilities as makers. In other writing sessions from my past experience, I often find myself really uncomfortable because I feel so much emphasis is placed on the product, even when the session is ostensibly on process. Here, the emphasis really was on the joy of the process and the fun of getting back into the puzzle of the manuscript, falling back in love with characters and plot construction, and just the act of putting pen to paper. It was a great workshop.”

“The faculty were very knowledgeable and provided wonderful tools, techniques, support, insight, and encouragement. It was everything I was hoping it would be. I left feeling inspired, nourished (by both information given by the faculty and the excellent food), and excited to come back again.”

“I had at least one “epiphany” and lots of “great idea” moments in every class. The whole faculty was extremely warm and supportive.”


Chris Tebbetts

Chris Tebbetts is the author and co-author of many books for young readers. Titles include the #1 New York Times…
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Erin Dionne

Erin Dionne’s latest book for tweens is Secrets of a Fangirl (2019). She’s the author of 6 other books for…
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Karen Boss

Karen Boss is a senior editor at Charlesbridge where she works on fiction and nonfiction picture books, middle-grade and young adult…
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Alexandra Villasante

Alexandra Villasante has always loved telling stories–though not always with words. She has a BFA in Painting and an MA…
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