Writing About Mental Health in Youth Literature: Impact & Experience
May 13 - 27, 2021
3 sessions (May 13, 20, & 27) + Optional Written Critique Opportunity
WHY THIS WORKSHOP?
Writing about mental health is about both the impact for our readers and the experience of our writers. How do we translate our lived experiences while keeping our youth audience centered? What does it mean to develop authentic and precise character arcs that hold reality and hope across a story?
This workshop is designed to help novelists write about mental health topics in youth literature from a place of both support and empowerment:
- Support in knowing that you are not alone in this creatorship journey
- Empowerment in harnessing your story’s power to make a difference for young people.
HOW THIS WORKSHOP IMPACTS KIDS:
Books are healing to both the writer and the reader. This workshop explores strategies for making those connections through story with care and efficacy.
IT’S A GREAT FIT IF:
- You’re writing a middle grade or young adult novel (all levels welcome).
- Your story centers on an aspect of mental health–main character, secondary character, or globally.
- You are interested in the intersection of creatorship and mental health in literature for children and young adults.
COMMITMENT REQUIRED FOR THE BEST EXPERIENCE:
- 3 weeks with Thursday 7pm EST live meetings (Note: If your schedule does not allow you to attend live sessions, that’s OK! You’ll have access to the recordings. They’re usually posted the day after the session, and they’ll be available through June 30.)
- Independent work time (for writing exercises and reviewing resources in the virtual classroom).
- Optional opportunity for written critique/feedback will require submission of 10 draft pages of a work in progress by 6/8/21 (only if you choose that option). Please note: Registration for the written critiques will begin on 6/1/21 and is only available to those who participate in the workshop.
Trying to figure out how this course fits into your schedule? Read some ideas about planning for the right level of commitment.
Part One, Thursday, May 13, 7pm Eastern
Live Webinar Panel Discussion
- Guest authors will offer a panel discussion about mental health in their own books, facilitated by faculty
- Faculty and guests will offer guiding questions and thoughts about mental health in the kidlit industry (from the perspective of creators, not mental health professionals)
- Reflection exercise: Who Does the Story Center?
Part Two, Thursday, May 20, 7pm Eastern
Live Webinar Writing Exercises and Analysis
This week will begin with a guided meditation from NoNieqa Ramos. A lecture and exercises from Bill Konigsberg will follow, centering some of the following:
- How do we SHOW the feelings our characters experiences?
- What is the balance in TELLING emotions?
- What are the needs of our character’s emotional arc?
- Writing exercises to explore character, description, and voice
Part Three, Thursday, May 27, 7pm Eastern
Open Office Hour with Live Q & A
You will have the ability to submit your questions for the office hour following the week two lecture.
Throughout the Workshop
- Access to robust resources and reading material in the virtual classroom
- Informal and optional “book club” meetings to discuss guest author texts in more depth (attended only by participants; not facilitated by faculty or guests)
A note about workshop agendas and how they may change and evolve.
After the Workshop: Optional Written Feedback Opportunity
Workshop participants will have an opportunity to be paired with a faculty member or guest author to receive written feedback/critique of 10 pages of a work in progress, for an extra fee.
Registration for this add-on will occur 6/1/21-6/8/21. Those who choose it will need to register and submit by 6/8/21. You’ll receive your written feedback/critique in a document via email within 4-6 weeks.
Nervous about critiques? See how the Highlights Foundation approaches the process here.
NoNieqa Ramos website
The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary: An Interview with NoNi Ramos, from Meg Medina’s blog