Seize the Reader: Writing for Emotional Impact, An On Demand Online Course

On Demand


Online, On-Demand Self-Paced Course

  • Included are 4 pre-recorded online sessions you can access on-demand for up to 6 months from the date of your registration
  • Access to live Community Office Hours, the first Monday of each month at noon Eastern where you can meet with faculty Jennifer Jacobson for questions and interaction.

Imagine your reader cemented in place by your story, unable to move until they reach the end. Imagine your reader racing to place your book into the hands of the nearest person exclaiming “You’ve got to read this!”  This on-demand course is designed to give you tools and knowledge to create an emotionally impactful novel.



  • No formal feedback will be offered.  You may interact with peers in community office hours.
  • Private critique and coaching services with Jennifer Jacobson are available and can be arranged separately for an additional fee.
Seize the Reader


No doubt about it, the novels we love best stir strong emotions. In this workshop, you’ll explore ways of crafting stories for kids that provoke intense feelings (tension, empathy, awe): in other words, fiction that resonates. Some of the questions that will be explored in depth are:

  • How do we create an emotional connection to the reader through characterization, plot, language, and pacing?
  • How can we prevent the avoidance of conflict and instead bravely mine the truth?
  • How do we provide an ending that causes the reader to close the book with a satisfied sigh (or better yet tears) and then want to read it all over again?



  • Your are a novelist looking to add depth to your current work-in-progress. This course will show you how to provide emotional resonance within your novel.
  • You’ve jotted down ideas for a novel but can’t get your story off the ground. Lectures will provide ideas as well as writing prompts to help further your understanding of your idea and get words on the page.
  • You are writing a novel. From those just starting out on a new project to those seeking momentum in finishing and revising, Jennifer Jacobson’s lectures are meant to inspire and spark ideas for your work.
  • You need a workshop you can complete at your own pace. You can work through the lessons individually and join monthly office hours to ask questions and engage with your writer community.



Recorded Sessions

You will have access to this course for 6 months from your registration. It’s designed to be completed at your own pace.  Four approximately hour-long recorded; interactive sessions include:

Session 1: Desire
What invites readers to fully participate in the experience of your protagonist? Desire. Giving your character a burning desire — in fact, two desires (an exterior desire and an interior need) — allows readers to enter the fictitious dream. It sounds easy, right? Actually, most of us discover that establishing and sustaining taut desire lines is one of the greatest challenges of writing a novel.

Session 2: Density
William Sloane wrote: “Writing is not a matter of a single, simple progression, with each sentence making only one point. Every paragraph, every sentence is related to the entire rest of the book…By ‘entire rest of the book’ I mean what is to come as well as what has gone before.” In this session, you will explore ways of fusing your work with meaning to create greater density and poignance.

Session 3: Dopamine
Dopamine is the chemical in our bodies that causes us to want more, more, more. Considering dopamine and the need for consistent micro-tension keeps the reader wanting more, more, more as well.

Session 4: Derring-Do
By the end of the story, our protagonists have stared down their greatest fear and in doing so, transformed their perception of themselves and the world. Problem is, our protagonist’s fears start to look a lot like our own. How do we show up, stay in place, and write the most truthful stories – those that move others to feel their own truths?

Office Hours

  • Mondays at noon EST, for up to 6 months from your registration for the course
  • First Monday of each month: faculty Jennifer Jacobson will join in for the community office hour

Access to these optional, live Community Office Hours Mondays will be available at noon Eastern for up to 6 months from the date of your registration.  Note: these will be mostly for peer connection, but faculty Jennifer Jacobson will join the community office hours on the first Monday of every month for questions and interaction.



You can work through these workshop sessions at your own pace, and you’ll have six months from the date of your registration to do so. For an enhanced experience, you can join the community office hours.  While this is not required, it is recommend for the best experience.



Our readers want to connect deeply with their stories; as authors, it is our job to deliver the kind of reading experience that will make this happen. This course will examine a reader’s wants and needs so that you can develop a story they love.

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



Jennifer Jacobson’s #HFGather Writer Chat with Sarah Aronson
Jennifer on taking your creativity to the next level, from our podcast



I loved this workshop. Dear writer, it will serve you well.


Faculty & Special Guests

Jennifer Jacobson

Jennifer, a graduate of Harvard Graduate School of Education, is the author of over a dozen award-winning children’s books including…
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