Telling It True: The Art of Storytelling in Narrative Nonfiction 2020

August 22 - 25, 2020

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

Other nonfiction workshops to consider:
Summer Camp In Writing Nonfiction for Children & Teens, July 15-19
Science and Nature Writing for Kids & Teens, August 5-9
Nonfiction Writers Unworkshop with Deborah Heiligman, October 11-14

Join Us To:

Engage children in the lives of others through captivating events and compelling narrative threads. Learn how to carve a storyline through your research that will fascinate and be accurate. Use the tools of the fiction writer to build character, explore theme, and shape a gripping informational story. Submit a chapter of your work-in-progress for roundtable critique, as well as one-to-one feedback from faculty. Study the market for narrative nonfiction with authors and editors working in the field.

What You’ll Learn:

Unfamiliar names may not hook your readers, but a well-told true story can inspire, delight, teach, and enthrall. It’s an exciting time for nonfiction in the children’s book world. Teachers are craving more of it. Authors are experimenting with structure and story-telling technique. And kids are realizing that nonfiction can read with the same page-turning momentum as great fiction. The process starts with the idea and research–lots of it. From there, the art of storytelling takes over. You will:

  • Hear faculty and guest lectures on craft and markets.
  • Complete hands-on exercises to practice using the tools of the fiction writer to build character, explore theme, and shape a gripping story.
  • Learn how to take your mountain of research and carve a storyline through it that will enthrall kids and be faithful to the sources.
  • Find out how to weave exposition seamlessly into narrative.
  • Engage in faculty-facilitated roundtable critiques of a chapter of your work-in-progress.
  • Meet with faculty for a one-to-one feedback on your work-in-progress, with guidance on revision and research.
  • Have free writing time to create or revise.
  • Network with faculty, peers and special guests.

Attend If:

  • You want to stretch! If you’re a short-form nonfiction writer, we’ll help you investigate what it takes to go long-form and weave exposition into narrative.
  • You’re a fiction writer with an idea for a true story. Narrative nonfiction is all about using the tools of the fiction writer to tell gripping true stories. This course gives you a head start!
  • You LOVE to do research–but you don’t know when to stop. Our faculty are experts at taking research and carving a storyline through it. Lectures and hands-on exercises will let you give it a try.


Day 1
Arrival & check in

Appetizers & Dinner
After dinner: Introductions and welcome; set up of peer roundtable sessions, review of schedule,
and mentor text introductions.

Day 2
Scene and Structure: Why Nonfiction Writers Should Think Like Screenwriters, Tod Olson
The Editor/Author Relationship, Steve Sheinkin and Connie Hsu

Q and A with editor Connie Hsu
Roundtable workshop with Steve and Tod

Appetizers & Dinner
After dinner: Fireside chat and book signing

Day 3
Confessions of a Journalist and Screenwriter with special guest, Paula Yoo
Optional writing exercise

Roundtable workshop with Steve and Tod
One-to-ones with Steve and Tod/ Independent writing time

Appetizers & Dinner
After dinner: Fireside chat: When Research Takes Over

Day 4
What I Do: My Outlining and Writing Process, Step by Step, Steve Sheinkin
Closing panel with Paula, Steve, and Tod

Lunch and farewells

A Note About Highlights Workshop Agendas


True Storytelling: Tod Olson and Leda Schubert in Conversation
12 Signs That You Are Destined to Write Middle Grade Nonfiction
Theme in Narrative Nonfiction
7 Ways to Make Your Nonfiction Stand Out


“I’ve been to many conferences and workshops and I teach a workshop every summer but coming to a Highlights workshop has been on my bucket list for years. It even exceeded my high expectations. Hard to put into words but the whole experience was magical. Being in a nurturing bubble, totally immersed in writing was amazing. No newspapers, no TV, no laundry to do or meals to cook, just writing. And learning from amazing mentors. And talking about writing. And writing some more… Bliss.”

Scholarships Available

Scholarships are available for this workshop from the James Cross Giblin fund:
Application deadline is January 8, 2020. Scholarships will be announced February 7, 2020.
Click here to apply!
For more information about scholarships, click here.


Tod Olson

Tod Olson is author of the forthcoming Into the Clouds: The Race to Climb the World’s Most Dangerous Mountain (April…
Learn more

Steve Sheinkin

Steve Sheinkin is the award-winning author of fast-paced, cinematic nonfiction histories for young readers. The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny,…
Learn more

Paula Yoo

Special Guest Paula Yoo is a children’s book author and TV writer/producer. Her latest YA non-fiction book about Vincent Chin,…
Learn more

Connie Hsu

Special Guest Connie Hsu is an executive editor at Roaring Brook Press at Macmillan Publishing and a member of the…
Learn more


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.

Do you want help finding a workshop or resources that will fit your needs?
Talk to one of our ambassadors.

workshop information

Begins on Saturday, August 22, with dinner and ends on Tuesday, August 25, with lunch.