• $1,200.00 – Program Price
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Program is fully booked

Anatomy of a Novel: Six-Month Exploration of Craft with Agent Linda Epstein

With Linda Epstein, Alexandra Villasante, Veera Hiranandani, Sarah Suk and Amber McBride

June 1 - November 18, 2021

Program is fully booked


  • Online (Program with monthly pre-recorded lectures, participant feedback sessions, and live monthly discussions via Zoom.
  • 6 Months (June 1-November 18, 2021; approximately 2.5 hours of content per month, plus individual expectations for revisions, writing exercises, and community discussions)
  • Please see tentative agenda for more details.

$200 per month for 6 months; choose monthly pay when registering or pay in full if you’d prefer.




This six-month course will explore the craft of novel writing by looking at its bones, with sessions dissecting hooks and beginnings; differentiating story and character arcs; analyzing voice and dialogue; investigating world-building and setting; exploring theme; and more. Pre-recorded lectures will help you take a deep dive into layers of craft, additionally, monthly live discussions with Linda and industry experts will provide real world impact as alternating 1:1 consultations and written feedback give you individualized reviews of your work. Community connections built throughout the program will foster support.

In this course, Senior Agent and seasoned mentor Linda Epstein will take 12 students through a 6-month exploration of the craft of novel writing and their own work, ideas, and goals to create meaningful career growth. The program includes:

  • Seven total pre-recorded presentations (posted at the start of each month, June – November) are filled with writerly advice and support on key and timely craft topics.
  • Two opportunities for 1:1 consultations (June and November).
  • Written feedback on two 10-page submissions (July and September).
  • Two opportunities for 1:1 critique on the written feedback (August and October).
  • A community forum to stay in touch with fellow writers during the program .
  • Monthly live sessions including Q&A with Linda and conversations with guest creatives talking process. (Approximately 60 minutes)
  • Optional office hours will help foster community connections and discussion among book creators. (Approximately 30 minutes).

When you register for the workshop:

You will be asked to submit a short survey of your writing goals and works in progress so that Linda may review them prior to your first consultation.


  • You’re a novelist of middle grade or young adult books, looking to acquire comprehensive tools to help you craft your novel.
  • You’re pre-published, just starting out. This program will provide tools you need to complete your first draft. Please know that having some idea of your work in progress and ideally some pages drafted will give you the maximum benefit in this program.
  • You’re a published novelist. We all begin again with each new project. Feel the encouragement from Linda and fellow novelists in this supportive environment.
  • You’d like a high level of 1:1 critique, feedback, and consultation to explore new ideas and look at your work through a new lens with the help of a seasoned mentor.


  • Recorded presentations will be released into the online classroom on the first Tuesday of each month, and they’ll be available for your use through 12/31/21. It is recommended that you consume the content before the live Thursday session each month for maximum engagement and participation in the meetings.
  • LIVE sessions will take place on the fourth Thursday of each month at 7:30 pm  (except the last one, which will occur at the close of the course). (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 12/31/21.)
  • Optional LIVE open office hours will take place immediately following the monthly LIVE session. Stay on the call for open, informal conversations with Linda. (Approximately 30 minutes.)
  • Critiques/feedbacks/consultations will be scheduled at the start of the course  for you and Linda. Submissions are due at least 7-days prior to each feedback session. Live 1:1s will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9-10am or 6-7pm; and will last approximately 20 minutes. (June, August, October, November)

When you register for the workshop:
You will be asked to submit a short survey of your writing goals and works in progress so that Linda may review them prior to your first consultation.


Novelists have the opportunity to use their voices and stories to make an impact on today’s children, teens, and young adults. This course explores and encourages professional growth so the writer can develop their skills and successfully speak to today’s children, teens and young adults.

Why do we mention this? Learn about the Highlights Foundation mission.


Tuesday, June 1
Recorded Content Release

  • Course Introduction
  • Social responsibility in writing MG/YA

Thursday, June 24, 7:30pm Eastern
LIVE Session

  • Group Introductions
  • Q&A with Linda
  • Followed by open session for discussion

Private Feedback (Tuesdays, June 8 or June 15, or Thursdays, June 11 or 18.)

  • 1:1 First Zoom Consultation (bring your questions, goals, and ideas)

Tuesday, July 6
Recorded Content Release

  • Story Arcs & Outlines

Thursday, July 22, 7:30pm Eastern
LIVE Session

  • In Conversation on Outlines
  • Guest: Sarah Suk, author of Made in Korea
  • Followed by open session for discussion

Private Feedback Submissions due July 14, 2021 by 5pm Eastern

  • Written critiques on ten pages (delivered by July 29, 2021)

Tuesday, August 3
Recorded Content Release

  • Character arc; wants vs. needs; backstory

Thursday, August 26, 7:30pm Eastern
LIVE Session

  • In Conversation on Character
  • Guest Veera Hiranandani, author of The Night Diary
  • Followed by open session for discussion

Private Feedback Scheduled Tuesdays August 10 or 17, or Thursdays August 13 or 19

  • 1:1 Zoom Review on your Written Critique from July

Tuesday, September 7
Recorded Content Release

  • Voice and Dialogue

Thursday, September 23, 7:30pm Eastern
LIVE Session

  • In conversation on Voice and Dialogue
  • Guest: Alexandra Villasante, author of The Grief Keeper
  • Followed by open session for discussion

Private Feedback (Submissions due September 15, 2021 by 5pm Eastern

  • Written critiques on ten pages (delivered by September 30, 2021)

Tuesday, October 5
Recorded Content Release

  • World Building/Setting

Thursday, October 28, 7:30pm Eastern
LIVE Session

  • In Conversation on World Building
  • Guest: Amber McBride author of (Me) Moth (Macmillan, Fall 2021)
  • Followed by open session for discussion

Private Feedback Scheduled on Tuesdays October 12 or 19, or Thursdays October 14 or 21

  • 1:1 Zoom Review on your Written Critique from September

Tuesday, November 2
Recorded Content Release

  • Theme

Thursday, November 18, 7:30pm Eastern
LIVE Session

  • Q&A with Linda
  • Farewells

Private Feedback Scheduled Tuesdays November 9 or 16, or Thursdays November 11 or 18

  • 1:1 Closing Zoom Consultation (bring your questions, discuss next steps)

A note about workshop agendas and how they may change and evolve.


COVID Reschedule/Refund Policy

What’s the difference between Highlights Foundation workshop types?

Nervous about critiques and consultations? See how the Highlights Foundation approaches the process here.

Trying to figure out how this course fits into your schedule? Read some ideas about planning for the right level of commitment.


“Linda was generous, as well as setting clear boundaries. She expressed her intent for the workshop and had clearly been very thoughtful and deliberate in her design. She was warm, funny, inclusive and prepared. Really excellent.”

“Linda Epstein was fabulous. She really created an inclusive and warm atmosphere, while always also focusing on professionalism. She is eloquent and insightful and open minded.”



Linda Epstein
Linda Epstein is a senior agent at Emerald City Literary Agency, in their east coast office. She represents picture books,…
Learn more about Linda Epstein
Alexandra Villasante
Special Guest Alexandra Villasante has always loved telling stories–though not always with words. She has a BFA in Painting and…
Learn more about Alexandra Villasante
Veera Hiranandani
Special Guest Veera Hiranandani is the author of The Night Diary (Kokila), which has received many awards including the 2019 Newbery Honor Award,…
Learn more about Veera Hiranandani
Sarah Suk
Special Guest Sarah Suk (pronounced like soup with a K) lives in Vancouver, Canada where she writes stories and admires…
Learn more about Sarah Suk
Amber McBride
Special Guest Amber McBride is currently a professor at the University of Virginia. She received her MFA in Poetry from Emerson…
Learn more about Amber McBride