Revision Retreat Online Course Jun 9 – Aug 13, 2020

June 9 - August 13, 2020

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

Online Course Info:

This is a two-month online course featuring LIVE and pre-recorded sessions with faculty, writing and revision exercises and one-to-one mentorship, culminating in a “retreat-at-home” weekend with an editor visit, LIVE faculty connection and mentorship, and goal setting.

Online Workshop Participant Cap:

20 students.

Join Us Online To:

Learn revision strategies to help you find problems in your picture book, chapter book, novel, or narrative nonfiction manuscript. Listen to feedback that might reveal problems of which you were not aware. Spend time putting the strategies to work and strengthening your manuscript in preparation for submission. Learn the value of critique groups and discover how editors respond to manuscripts. Have one-to-one faculty mentorship, including an in-depth critique of your work-in-progress up to 50 pages.

What You’ll Learn & Experience:

Editors Eileen Robinson and Harold Underdown have been working with writers on revision for many years, both as independent editors and through their Kid’s Book Revisions partnership. From that experience, they bring tested techniques for self-editing and revising, help you try them out, and give you time to use them to make your manuscripts stronger.

The Revision Retreat is set up to meet you wherever you are in the process of revising a manuscript, whether you are at the beginning, mid-draft, or near the end, and to help you move along in the process while learning tools and techniques that can be used in the future. It’s designed to provide extended support to you as you complete a revision and/or generate new material. You can find a detailed agenda below.

Attend If:

  • You are working on a manuscript or have completed a draft of a manuscript and want to take the next step. If you want help with your picture book, novel, graphic novel or nonfiction work, this course can help you make it stronger.
  • You’re ready to clean up your manuscript. We’ll help you get it ready for submission!
  • You’re just starting to write for children. All writers need to revise! This course will give you powerful revision techniques.
  • You’re published or an experienced beginner and need a refresher. You may have your favorite revision techniques, but you’ll benefit from learning new ones.
  • You’ve attended a previous Revision Retreat. If you’ve been here before, you know just how valuable these techniques are–so bring your next project back!

Do you need a finished manuscript to bring to the revision retreat?
Bringing a completed manuscript to the Revision Retreat might optimize what you’ll get out of the workshop, but it’s not a requirement. The workshop begins in June and runs through mid-August, so you might not have a finished manuscript when you start, but you might be working towards that finish in August. You might also use the Retreat as a way to revise and know what you’re looking for as you build out the rest of it. Maybe you’ve written the first 100 pages of a novel, and then you really start to engage in what your revision process looks like–and that starts to help you outline what the second half of it could be. You could use this workshop in both ways.


June LIVE Sessions
Session 1: June 9: Reading Like an Editor + introductions
Session 2: June 16: Getting Feedback from Others
Session 3: June 23: Big Picture Revision
Session 4: June 30: Revision at the Word and Sentence Level
One-to-one meeting with faculty

Independent work to find problems in your manuscript and think about what you want to do to resolve them. Faculty will be available via email to provide support.

Retreat Time: August 9-12
Time and space for you to start the next stage of your revision, whether it’s rewriting, using your new-found revision tools, or getting feedback from faculty or peers.

August 9
Evening LIVE Zoom to review the schedule, share goals and talk about how to utilize our Retreat time together and individually.

August 10-12
11 am EST LIVE Zoom to check in with the group, get creativity exercises
Visit with editor Mary Cash of Holiday House
Faculty “office hours” for questions and chat
Further one-to-one mentorship meetings with faculty

August 13
Final LIVE Zoom session: discuss progress and plans for next steps.


Kid’s Book Revisions website
Links to books and websites related specifically to revision. Learn more.

Using a Revision Grid to Break Down Your Story Into Elements
By Harold Underdown
It can help to look at your story in a fresh way, and if you don’t have a critique group at hand, it can be very useful to put your story in a different form, which can reveal problems that may not be apparent when you just read over the manuscript. One technique that we have found very useful, and which we teach at our Revision Retreat and in online workshops, is the revision grid. Read more.

Top 10 Reasons You Need to Revise Your Manuscript
by Harold Underdown & Eileen Robinson
Why revise your manuscript? Good writers get their manuscript right the first time, don’t they? Not in our experience! Here are some of the reasons you might need to revise your manuscript. Read more.

As Simple As Possible: Three Ways To Tighten Your Prose, by Chris Tebbetts
One of my guiding principles echoes the famous Einstein quote, that “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” For me, that means keeping my prose as clean and focused as I can, while also making sure that I don’t overdo it with the economy. Read more.

Tools and Tips on Character Revision, by Harold Underdown & Eileen Robinson
Want to create characters that step off the page? Here are some cool tools and tips you can play with to explore the many sides of your character. Cool Tool #1: Secondary Characters are People Too. Read more.

Who, What, Where, and Usually Why: Revising Scenes, by Sage Blackwood
When I draft and revise my novels, I divide them into scenes. A scene is a capsule of story. It’s usually one sequence of action, in one setting, in one moment of time. When time and place have changed, that’s a new scene. Here are some things I look for when revising a scene. Read more.

Seeing Your Manuscript by Listening
by Harold Underdown & Eileen Robinson
One of the challenges all writers face is seeing a manuscript clearly when tinkering or polishing, instead of seeing what you believe is there but may not be. Reading a manuscript over and over often does not help, so we recommend getting a new perspective by listening. Read more.

Shrink Your Manuscript, by Darcy Pattison
Writing a great scene is easy. A novel, however, adds layer after layer of complexity until it’s hard to keep everything straight. What novelists need is a simple way to take the abstract and make it visual. Writing teacher Darcy Pattison uses the “shrunken manuscript” technique to visualize a novel’s narrative arc, the emotional journey and much more. Read more.

How to Start Revising That First Draft, by Harold Underdown
The first draft of your manuscript is done! What next? Most writers know that it’s not really done, and that in fact they need to revise. But where to start? How to start? Don’t ask yourself to do the impossible. Very few people can start revising a manuscript immediately after finishing it. So first, let it sit. Read more.

The DIY Home Guide to Repair for Your Story, by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
our rough draft is your “get words on the page” stage. It’s not a first draft. You won’t know what your book is about until you have written your story from beginning to end. So write it through. Trust that your ending will inform your beginning. Once you’ve written it through, you will be ready for a true first draft. Read more.


“Harold and Eileen had so much wisdom and resources to share. Their presentations were informative and engaging. The prompts and other writing and reviewing activities encouraged us to think out of the box and also meet our fellow conference-goers. My idea of my own work radically changed a few times! I love that I was presented with new perspectives on how to see my writing. I was happy to receive 2 beautiful books to help me in revision, and I was very glad to talk to Ellen Cormier and Cherie Matthews and hear what they had to say about the industry.”

“Harold and Eileen were very knowledgeable and approachable. They were always willing to answer questions and give feedback as well as to spend time getting to know us. They gave helpful suggestions and the mentoring experience showed me what I needed to work on and what steps to take to do so. They did a great job!”

“The revisions retreat was really great. I have a number of solid and helpful revision tool takeaways, including some really strong, revised pieces. I met with my agent this morning, and he was impressed with where we got things and came up with a new submissions list.”


Harold Underdown

Harold is an independent children’s book editor and consultant who works with authors and publishers on manuscripts, books, and strategy.…
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Eileen Robinson

Eileen Robinson has worked with children’s writers all over the world for over twenty years. Former Executive Editor at Scholastic…
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Mary Cash

Mary Cash is the Vice President and Editor in Chief at Holiday House, a children’s-only publisher. She edits books in…
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