Plotting Your Verse Novel Online Course Jan-Feb 2021

January 27 - February 24, 2021

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

Online Course Info:

When writing verse novels, we dance between poetry and story. This course will help you with the unique challenges of plotting novels in verse: do you write the poems before deciding on structure? Or do you use an outline to organize your writing? In either case, how can you balance pacing, action and character development within the confines of the verse novel?

We will define poetry tools to assist in plotting your verse novel, as well as find beautiful examples of books that plot traditionally, and those that circumvent the traditional structure. Required texts (Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam, and The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan) as well as other contemporary stories will be explored.

This five-week online workshop features weekly Wednesday afternoon “live” lectures, discussions, writing exercises, pre-recorded lectures and roundtable sessions. You will be offered informal feedback on all writing exercises within the virtual course forum, and have multiple poems reviewed in workshop during our final live session.

Online Workshop Participant Cap:

16 students.

What You’ll Learn & Experience:

In this workshop, you will explore the unique challenges of plotting your novel in verse. You will:

  • Watch videos, explore resources and complete structured assignments.
  • Receive informal feedback on your writing assignments in the virtual classroom.
  • Consider the possibilities of writing your poems first, then organizing into a logical sequence.
  • Explore using an outline to guide plot while paying attention to action and character development.

The course is divided into 5 sessions:

  • Session 1: Introductions & Verse Novel Overview
  • Session 2: Analysis: Looking at Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam and The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan as plot models
  • Session 3: Plot & Outlining Methods for Verse Novels Part 1 plus general story tips
  • Session 4: Plot & Outlining Methods for Verse Novels Part 2 plus general poetry tips
  • Session 5: Workshop 8-10 of your poems plus an overview of Cordelia’s Verse Novel Revision Guide

Live sessions will be held at 1:30 pm EDT on Wednesdays (1/27, 2/3, 2/10, 2/17, 2/24), followed by time for Q&A. The sessions will be approximately 75 – 90 minutes.

Please note:
If you’re unable for any reason to attend either session, you’ll have access to the recordings of each through March 31, 2021.

Join Us If:

  • You have an in-progress or completed draft of a middle grade or young adult novel in verse. In this course, you’ll explore working with this form.
  • You need a workshop that fits into your schedule. This is an online course and you are free to work at your own pace.


Required reading:
The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan
Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam

Suggested reading:
Skyscraping by Cordelia Jensen
The Way the Light Bends by Cordelia Jensen
Every Shiny Thing by Cordelia Jensen

The Verse Novel: If I Can Do It, So Can You, by Kathryn Erskine
YA Wednesday: Better and Verse, by Padma Venkatraman
Read a verse novel a day for National Poetry Month
Best 9 Tips On Plotting a Novel in Verse from the Fiction Notes blog.


“Cordelia was an excellent teacher and shared above and beyond and made the whole class experience worthwhile and informative.”

“Cordelia was kind and generous, knowledgeable and encouraging. She listened well and read our work carefully, offering insightful comments and encouraging remarks. She made everyone feel good about their process, and made sure we understood that writing is a personal experience that we make as we go along, and that there is no right way.”

Faculty & Special Guests

Cordelia Jensen

Cordelia Jensen graduated with a MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts in…
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