Programs

  • $2,499.00 – In-person, includes a 6-night retreat on our campus
  • $1,799.00 – Online-only
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The Whole Novel Workshop

With Sarah Aronson, Nancy Werlin, Erin Entrada Kelly, Jennifer Jacobson, Crystal Allen, Rob Costello, Alexandra Villasante, Nora Shalaway Carpenter and Melissa Wyatt

August 21 - 27, 2021

TYPE:

In-Person or Online (You Choose Based on Your Travel Comfort Level and Desired Experience)

  • One week active workshop time (feedback and mentorship intensive)
  • Preparation activities are as noted in the agenda, with firm deadlines

In-person price: $2,499, which includes a 6-night retreat on our campus
Online-only price: $1,799

DATES:

Pre-retreat dates to note include application, submission of entire novel, and online introductory sessions. (Please see exact dates below).

Retreat: August 21 – 27, 2021

PARTICIPANT CAP:

20

WHY THIS WORKSHOP?

The Whole Novel Workshop offers writers the rare opportunity to have the entire draft of a novel read with written feedback provided, followed by a weeklong opportunity to:

  • connect with fellow writers
  • plan revisions
  • discuss your personal writing needs, and
  • work on your novel in preparation for submission.

You will be thoughtfully paired with a faculty reader who can offer insights and questions about your drafted novel, and help you prioritize goals. Your “brain trust” group will be built with your needs in mind—this unique roundtable discussion will host no more than 7 fellow writers, and be facilitated by a caring guide who will see that each group maintains a safe atmosphere.

The Whole Novel Workshop is specifically designed for writers of middle grade and young adult novels. It offers the one-to-one attention found in degree programs, but the turn-around on feedback and community is set over three months, with a focus on a specific novel in progress. Attention in an intimate setting makes this mentorship program one that guarantees significant progress in preparation for submission.

You’ll move through this program alongside fellow authors who are right there in the thick of the creative process with you; from our experienced faculty to your fellow attendees. Whether you’re working toward getting your first novel published, or working the next (or the next!), this workshop can help you see your work in a new light.

You choose an online or in-person experience to fit your desired experience. (Agenda details below.)

Note:
Acceptance into the program requires a brief application including the first 10-15 pages from the manuscript you wish to workshop; a one-page synopsis; and a narrative explanation of the current status of your manuscript with word count, by June 1, 2021. You will be notified of acceptance by June 15, 2021, with your full novel draft due on or before July 1, 2021. (For a detailed timeline of submissions, please see below.)

Click here to submit your application.

Click here to submit your application if you are also applying for a scholarship.

IT’S A GREAT FIT IF:

  • You have a complete or near-complete draft of a middle grade or young adult novel. You’ll get the most out of this workshop if you’re at this stage; your full workshop novel submission is due by July 15. You’ll then workshop it in earnest, readying it for agents/publishers.
  • Your project is one of many fiction genres, or a graphic novel, or a verse novel, or a multi-genre novel for children or teens. If you aren’t sure if your novel fits the program specifics, please reach out to our ambassadors and ask.
  • You would benefit from receiving multiple feedback perspectives. In addition to a whole-novel review by your faculty reader, you will receive discussion and feedback from our “brain trust” guides and fellow workshop participants.
  • You’re willing to work! This program is best for those who will dedicate time and attention to processing feedback, revising, writing exercises, and group sessions.

COMMITMENT REQUIRED FOR THE BEST EXPERIENCE:

For both in-person and online participants:
The Whole Novel Workshop requires an application process (application window is open through June 1, 2021), and then submission of a complete draft of your novel by July 1 for those applicants who are accepted. You must mark in your application whether you wish to participate in-person or online upon acceptance, so that we can properly plan for our time together.

The July 1 whole novel submission deadline is firm to allow faculty enough time to read your novel and provide written feedback in advance of the workshop.

You will also submit 15 pages and a cover letter on July 1 for your Brain Trust Group. Prior to the workshop, you’ll need to read the 15-page submissions from other members of your Brain Trust group (expect no more than 6 to read). It is important that you read these submissions, so that you may fully participate in meetings with your fellow authors.

You should review your own written feedback (provided by August 16) in advance of the workshop start.
There will be optional, (but highly encouraged) online meetings leading up to the full week workshop. These optional sessions will answer questions about your submissions, the “brain trust” sessions, how to prepare for the retreat (at home or on campus and a chance to get to know one another prior to our week-long intensive.

Online participants:
Efforts will be made to livestream lectures/panel discussions from the campus during the workshop at the noted times. If there are technical issues, recordings will be released within 24 hours.

You will receive your 1:1 times and your small group “brain trust” times in advance of the week. Please make every effort to attend those sessions live via Zoom. Optional sessions are marked as such.

We hope that you can block portions of time during the workshop days for your revision work, and space to rest and reflect on the discussions of the week. This is not mandatory, but it will help enable ample time to process feedback and participate in your sessions.

HOW THIS WORKSHOP IMPACTS KIDS:

Your novel can make a big impact on a child’s life. This workshop helps you take steps toward bringing it to market in a way that is authentic to your voice and your story, because that is just what your reader needs.

TENTATIVE AGENDAS (in-person and online):

With this workshop, you will get:

  • An editorial letter providing feedback on your entire novel.
  • One-to-one meetings with your faculty reader to discuss feedback, revisions, and next steps.
  • Writing prompts.
  • Small group discussion and feedback via your “Brain Trust.”
  • Craft and industry lectures, panels, and activities.
  • Connection opportunities with fellow writers.

Note: “Brain Trust” groups are small, carefully chosen cohorts of your fellow attendees, plus a facilitator. Your brain trust group members will come to the workshop having read your 15 page-submission with cover letter, and will therefore have some level of familiarity with your work. Your “brain trust” guide will help you bring your own questions and challenges to the group, so that they may offer you new perspectives and approaches to problem solving. The goal is to then use those perspectives as you complete your revisions to bring out the best in your own story. Hear our podcast about “Brain Trusts” here.

Application Deadline: June 1, 2021
To apply, you will need to submit:

  • The first 10-15 pages from the manuscript you wish to workshop
  • A one-page synopsis
  • The current status of your manuscript with word count

Click here to submit your application.

Click here to submit your application if you are also applying for a scholarship.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis starting immediately. You will be notified of your acceptance status as your application is reviewed by the faculty.

Upon acceptance, you will receive a link to register for the workshop.

By June 15: Applicants notified of acceptance.

June 23, 7:30pm EST: Optional Online Office Hour for accepted applicants:

  • Celebrations!
  • Guidelines for submission
  • What to expect with critique
  • Other questions

July 1: Full novel submission due (Details shared in your acceptance and the first office hour.)

July 15: 15-page submission with cover letter and synopsis due for your Brain Trust Group (Details shared in your acceptance and the first office hour.)

July 21, 7:30pm EST: Optional Online Office Hour for accepted applicants:

  • I’ve turned in my novel, NOW WHAT?

August 11, 7:30pm EST: Optional Online Office Hour for accepted applicants:

  • How to prepare for the retreat (online and in person)

August 14: Whole Novel Written Feedback from Faculty Readers Sent to Participants


The Retreat (Online or In-person)
All times Eastern

Workshop Day 1: August 21
In-person:

  • 3pm: Arrival
  • 5pm: Meet and greet; appetizers and introductions
  • 6:30pm: Dinner
  • 7:30pm: Opening Inspiration Lecture

Online:

  • 5pm: Meet and greet
  • 7:30pm EST: Opening Inspiration Lecture (Livestreamed if possible; recording released within 24 hours)

Workshop Day 2: August 22
In-person:

  • 6:30am: Optional Yoga or Hike
  • 7:30am-8:30am: Breakfast hour
  • 8:45am: Optional writing prompts
  • 9:00am: 1:1 meetings begin (Slots for 1:1 meetings are 45 minutes, beginning at the top of each hour. When you are not in your 1:1 meeting, you can work on your prompt, your own writing, reflect, or rest.)
  • 11:45am: Break
  • 12pm-1pm: Lunch hour
  • 1pm: Afternoon check-in
  • 1:15pm-2:00pm: Final 1:1 meeting with reader
  • 2pm: Time on your own to retreat, rest, revise, repeat
  • 4:30pm: Optional Office Hour with faculty
  • 5:30pm: Appetizers
  • 6:30pm: Dinner
  • 7:30pm: Evening check-in

Online:

  • 9:00am EST: Zoom 1:1 meetings begin (Slots for 1:1 meetings are 45 minutes, beginning at the top of each hour. When you are not in your 1:1 meeting, you are encouraged to work on your own writing, reflect, or rest.)
  • 11am EST: Writing prompt recording released into the virtual classroom
  • 4:30pm: Optional Office Hour with faculty
  • 7:30pm-8:30pm EST: First day Zoom check-in and social hour

Workshop Day 3: August 23
In-person:

  • 6:30am: Optional Yoga or Hike
  • 7:30am-8:30am: Breakfast hour
  • 8:45am: Optional writing prompts
  • 9:30am: Brain Trust Groups Meet
  • 11:45am: Break
  • 12pm-1pm: Lunch hour
  • 1pm: Afternoon check-in
  • 1:15pm Time on your own to retreat, rest, revise, repeat
  • 4:30pm: Optional Office Hour with faculty
  • 5:30pm: Appetizers
  • 6:30pm: Dinner
  • 7:30pm: Lecture

Online:

  • 10:00am EST: Virtual Brain Trust Groups Meet
  • 11:00am EST: Writing prompt recording released into the virtual classroom
  • 4:30pm-5:30pm EST: Optional Zoom Office Hour
  • 7:30pm-8:30pm EST: Lecture (Livestreamed if possible; recording released within 24 hours)

Workshop Day 4: August 24
In-person:

  • 6:30am: Optional Yoga or Hike
  • 7:30am-8:30am: Breakfast hour
  • 8:45am: Optional writing prompts
  • 9:30am: Brain Trust Groups Meet
  • 11:45am: Break
  • 12pm-1pm: Lunch hour
  • 1pm: Afternoon check-in
  • 1:15pm Time on your own to retreat, rest, revise, repeat
  • 4:30pm: Optional Office Hour with faculty
  • 5:30pm: Appetizers
  • 6:30pm: Dinner
  • 7:30pm: Movie night

Online:

  • 10:00am EST: Virtual Brain Trust Groups Meet
  • 11:00am EST: Writing prompt recording released into the virtual classroom
  • 4:30pm-5:30pm EST: Optional Zoom Office Hour
  • 7:30pm-8:30pm EST: Social Hour; movie streaming

Workshop Day 5: August 25
In-person:

  • 6:30am: Optional Yoga or Hike
  • 7:30am-8:30am: Breakfast hour
  • 8:45am: Optional writing prompts
  • 9:30am: Optional meetings with peers and/or faculty
  • 11:45am: Break
  • 12pm-1pm: Lunch hour
  • 1pm: Afternoon check-in
  • 1:15pm Optional meetings with peers and/or faculty (remote only, see below)
  • 3:00pm: Time on your own to retreat, rest, revise, repeat
  • 4:30pm: Panel Discussion on Submissions
  • 5:30pm: Appetizers
  • 6:30pm: Dinner
  • 7:30pm: Lecture

Online:

  • 10:00am EST: Optional Office Hour
  • 11:00am EST: Writing prompt recording released into the virtual classroom
  • 1:15pm EST: Optional meetings with peers and/or faculty
  • 4:30pm-5:30pm EST: Panel Discussion on Submissions (livestreamed; or watch recording within 24 hours)
  • 7:30pm-8:30pm EST: Lecture (livestreamed; or watch recording within 24 hours)

Workshop Day 6: August 26
In-person:

  • 6:30am: Optional Yoga or Hike
  • 7:30am-8:30am: Breakfast hour
  • 8:45am: Optional writing prompts
  • 9:00am: 1:1 meetings begin (Slots for 1:1 meetings are 30 minutes, beginning at each half hour. When you are not in your 1:1 meeting, you can work on your prompt, your own writing, or rest.)
  • 11:45am: Break
  • 12pm-1pm: Lunch hour
  • 1pm: Afternoon check-in
  • 1:15pm-3:00pm: Small Group Meetings with Faculty Readers
  • 3pm: Time on your own to retreat, rest, revise, repeat
  • 4:30pm: Panel Discussion on the Revision Process
  • 5:30pm: Appetizers
  • 6:30pm: Dinner
  • 7:30pm: Last night check-in

Online:

  • 9:00am-11:00am EST: Zoom 1:1 meetings begin (Slots for 1:1 meetings are 30 minutes, beginning at each half hour.)
  • 11am EST: Optional Zoom Office Hour
  • Noon EST: Writing prompt recording released into the virtual classroom
  • 4:30pm-5:30pm EST: Panel Discussion on Revision (livestreamed; or watch recording within 24 hours)
  • 7:30pm-8:30pm EST: Faculty-lead Journaling with next steps and discoveries

Workshop Day 7: August 27
In-person:

  • 6:30am: Optional Yoga or Hike
  • 7:30am-8:30am: Breakfast hour
  • 8:45am: Whole group journaling: Next Steps, discoveries, unanswered questions
  • 9:15am: Sharing
  • 9:45am: Discuss unanswered questions
  • 11:00am: Closing
  • 12pm-1pm: Lunch hour
  • 1pm: Farewells

Online:

  • 7:30pm-8:30pm EST: Closing and last questions

SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE:

Scholarships are available for this workshop–the application deadline is June 1, 2021.
Note:
Acceptance into the program requires a brief application including the first 10-15 page sample from the manuscript you wish to workshop; a one-page synopsis; and a narrative explanation of the current status of your manuscript with word count, by June 1, 2021. You will be notified of acceptance by June 15, 2021, with your full novel draft due on or before July 1, 2021.

Click here to submit your application if you are also applying for a scholarship..

HIGHLIGHTS FOUNDATION RESOURCES AND FAQS FOR WORKSHOPS:

FROM OUR COMMUNITY:

“Attending Highlight’s Whole Novel Workshop changed not only the course of my career, but also the scope of my writer friendships. I gained so much knowledge by immersing myself into the culture that is part of Highlights, and came away with the exact tools I needed to plunge in, rework my manuscript, and sign my first two-book contract with HarperCollins. I’ve since signed a second two-book contract with them and I have no doubts that what I learned at Highlights made the difference, and I am still utilizing that knowledge today. Plus, I am still friends with the people I attended with, and we continue, after all these years, to support each other, encourage each other, and cheer for each other. It is a life-altering experience. Go. You will not regret it. Plus, the food was so good I am still talking about it!"—Nanci Turner Steveson

“Thanks to the thorough and insightful feedback on my YA novel manuscript at the Highlights Whole Novel Workshop two years ago, Cowboy Code was picked up by a publisher and will be released this August. I had been laboring over the book for years, and it took a week at Highlights to show me where I needed to pump energy into the manuscript. Thank you, faculty and participants, for for an inspiring and valuable experience."—Louella Bryant

“Everyone on the faculty was genuinely interested in helping each student to succeed. They were great about having small or one-on-one conversations as well.”

“The faculty were warm, inspiring, wise, encouraging, helpful, and funny. The workshops were as inspiring and as helpful as the presenters. I couldn’t have asked for more!”

“The faculty were awesome. I’ve been through an MFA program in creative writing, so I know top-notch writing instructors when I see them. Learned some very valuable things about my writing at Highlights.”

“The guest speakers were lovely, accessible and thorough with their feedback and guidance.”

RELATED RESOURCES:

8 Articles to Help You Write a Kidlit Novel
Nicole Valentine and Rob Costello talk about the braintrust critique method
Listen for Stories
Podcast: Jennifer Jacobson talks about writing retreats, the Whole Novel workshop and taking your creativity to the next level
Tranform Introspection into Dialogue
Podcast: Nancy Werlin on Reviewing Your Whole Novel
Eulogy Virtues
Podcast: Melissa Wyatt on Writing Prompts
Is Your Novel Opening as Strong as It Can Be?
Walking through the Woulds with your Character
An Na and Lilliam Rivera Talk About Writing Novels

Leaders

Sarah Aronson
Sarah Aronson began writing for kids and teens when someone in an exercise class dared her to try. Since then,…
Learn more about Sarah Aronson
Nancy Werlin
Nancy Werlin is the author of nine young-adult novels that range from contemporary realism to mystery to fantasy. Her books…
Learn more about Nancy Werlin
Erin Entrada Kelly
Erin Entrada Kelly received the 2018 Newbery Medal for Hello, Universe, a 2021 Newbery Honor for We Dream of Space,…
Learn more about Erin Entrada Kelly
Jennifer Jacobson
Jennifer, a graduate of Harvard Graduate School of Education, is the author of over a dozen award-winning children’s books including…
Learn more about Jennifer Jacobson
Crystal Allen
Crystal Allen is the author of five middle-grade books, all published by Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins.  Her accolades include the 2018…
Learn more about Crystal Allen
Rob Costello
Special Guest Rob Costello (he/him) writes fiction for and about queer youth. He holds an MFA from the Writing for…
Learn more about Rob Costello
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
Nora Shalaway Carpenter
Special Guest Nora Shalaway Carpenter’s YA debut The Edge of Anything was a 2020 Best Book of the Year (Kirkus…
Learn more about Nora Shalaway Carpenter
Melissa Wyatt
Special Guest Melissa Wyatt is the author of two young adult novels, Funny How Things Change, named to the YALSA…
Learn more about Melissa Wyatt