Programs

Filling the Writer’s Toolbox With Editor Emma Dryden

October 17 - November 7, 2021

TYPE & LENGTH:

  • 4 week online course with weekly LIVE Zoom sessions, weekly office hours, and one week of LIVE facilitated group discussions
  • Writing exercises
  • Post course 1:1 consultations included
  • Submissions for facilitated group discussions, due by September 27, 2021

PARTICIPANT CAP:

24

WHY THIS WORKSHOP?

Toolbox workshop
Spend weeks preparing your manuscript for submission under the guidance of renowned editor Emma Dryden.

At this workshop, you will:

  • Learn and practice techniques for editing and revising.
  • Get help preparing your manuscript to catch the heart of agents and publishers.
  • Hear engaging craft sessions on voice, character, revision, world-building and more.
  • Participate in small-group discussions with peers, facilitated by a children’s book writer or illustrator.
  • Meet 1:1 with Emma for a private consultation

IT’S A GREAT FIT IF:

  • You have a completed draft of a picture book or middle grade or young adult novel. You will receive help preparing your work for submission to agents and editors.
  • You have taken your manuscript through at least one or two rounds of revision. This course is best for intermediate to advanced writers who are willing to keep working to get it right.
  • You want to learn tools and strategies for improvement. The toolbox you’ll be given in this course will help you move your book closer to submission-ready.
  • You enjoy peer discussion groups which help build community, revision skills, and offer new perspectives on your work.

COMMITMENT REQUIRED FOR THE BEST EXPERIENCE:

This course is best experienced if you can engage in the live lectures and complete the relevant assignments before returning to the next live session.

Please be prepared to discuss assignments during the live sessions & office hours.

Note: If your schedule does not allow you to attend the live sessions and you would still like to register, 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 December 31, 2021.

TENTATIVE AGENDA:

September 27
Manuscript submissions due. (You will receive submission and formatting guidelines at least one week prior to the workshop.)

Submissions include: cover letter with summary of your project, a complete picture book manuscript or up to 5,000 words from a longer piece of fiction or nonfiction (with samples from the beginning, turning point, and ending).

September 30
Peer-to-peer instructions and manuscripts arrive. Participants begin reading.

October 14 – 16
Introduce yourself and your project in our virtual classroom community.
Pre-course resources:

  • How to make a dummy
  • Responsible Representation in Children’s Literature
  • Setting yourself up for roundtable critique
  • Character Writing Prompts

Sunday, October 17
LIVE Zoom session, 5pm EDT

  • Welcome
  • Lecture: First Lines, Last Lines, and the Promise Fulfilled with Emma Dryden
    • So often agents and editors stop reading a manuscript after the first page. Why? What’s missing? Emma will start this session with a presentation about the importance of first lines and first pages, focusing on what the first page promises to the main character and to the reader. Emma will then comment on two or three first and last typewritten and appropriately formatted pages of participants’ manuscripts. This session will provide the sort of thoughts and comments agents and editors have when they consider submissions. Participants will be encouraged to read aloud. Includes handouts, worksheets, writing exercises, and Q&A.
  • Following: meet & greet with your small group– make a plan for the week with your facilitator

October 18 – October 22

  • Nightly peer-to-peer meetings
  • Facilitated discussions on submissions
  • Setting revision goals

Sunday, October 24

LIVE Zoom session:

  • 5pm Eastern– Informal Gather: Meet with Questions for Emma from Week One Exercises
  • 5:30pm Eastern– Lecture: Hearing Voices, Hearing Characters with Emma Dryden
    • Voice is elusive and very hard to define, yet it’s as important as character in terms of compelling agents and editors to read beyond the initial query. Emma will start this session with a discussion of all aspects of voice —narrative voice, character voice, and the overall voice of our stories. This will be followed by an exploration of the Character Interview Questionnaire and related Character Worksheets, which participants will use to go deeper into their characters’ voices, hearts, and minds. Participants will be encouraged to read aloud. Includes handouts, worksheets, writing exercises, and Q&A.
  • 7:00pm Eastern– Optional Peer-to-Peer Gather, 1 hour for continued conversations (and pages) with your facilitated peer group

Sunday, October 31

  • 5pm Eastern– Informal Gather: Meet with Questions for Emma from Week One Exercises
  • 5:30pm Eastern– Lecture: Internal and external world-building with Emma Dryden
    • All stories—be they fantasy or reality, picture book or novel–need to exist within a consistent context. This session explores the physical, psychological, and emotional contexts for our stories and our characters. Emma will start this session with a presentation about world-building, followed by participants trying out some methods for building believable settings and believable inner worlds. Participants will be encouraged to read aloud. Includes handouts, worksheets, writing exercises, and Q&A.be encouraged to read aloud. Includes handouts, worksheets, writing exercises, and Q&A.
  • 7:00pm Eastern– Optional Peer-to-Peer Gather, 1 hour for continued conversations (and pages) with your facilitated peer group

Sunday, November 7

  • 5pm Eastern– Informal Gather: Meet with Questions for Emma from Week One Exercises
  • 5:30pm Eastern– Lecture: Renew, Refresh, and Revise! With Emma Dryden
    • Hang onto your hats! In this session, Emma will be guiding participants through a wide and varied array of revision techniques and tools. Some will be familiar; some will be new. Some will be fun; some will be uncomfortable. All will be valuable in forcing participants to see their work anew, which is a key to successful revision. Participants will be encouraged to read aloud. Includes handouts, worksheets, writing exercises, and Q&A.
  • 7:00pm Eastern– Optional Open Mic; Read and Celebrate!

November 8 – 21

  • Post course: Meet for your 1:1 consultation with Emma (Scheduled at a mutually convenient time)

HIGHLIGHTS FOUNDATION RESOURCES AND FAQS FOR WORKSHOPS:

RELATED RESOURCES:

Interview with Emma D. Dryden: Revision, Getting Unstuck, and Knowing When Work is Ready to Submit
Ask an Editor: Emma D. Dryden
Interview with Emma D. Dryden
The Writer: Ranking Rejection

SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE:

Scholarships are available for this workshop–the application deadline is August 18, 2021. Click here to apply!
For more information about scholarships, click here.

FROM OUR COMMUNITY:

“Emma Dryden had a well-planned workshop that allowed for a LOT of input from faculty and time for participants to work on revisions. The pacing was thoughtful and productive.”

“Everyone was AMAZING! Knowledgeable, encouraging, supportive, friendly, engaging…I was blown away by how much I learned from everyone. (And by how warm and sincere everyone was).”

“I got everything I needed to take my writing to the next level: revision tools, inspiration, affirmation…When someone used the word “magic” to describe Highlights Foundation Workshops, I couldn’t agree more.”

“There was so much, I don’t know where to begin. Gained new perspective on my book. Am excited about the new direction it is taking me.”

“I learned a lot about the revision process. I learned about sensitivity readers and got the names of YA and craft books that will help me with my manuscript. I learned more about how the publishing industry works, but for me, the most important learning was very personal. The workshop gave me the space and context to learn/affirm why I’m writing in the first place, and why I’m writing the story I am. It was a beautiful opportunity to learn to trust my process.”

Faculty & Special Guests

Emma D. Dryden

Emma D. Dryden founded drydenbks LLC (www.drydenbks.com), a premiere children’s editorial & publishing consultancy firm, after 25 years experience as…
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$499.00