Programs

Getting to Know Your Character

January 12 - February 2, 2022

OVERVIEW:

Multi-Week Online Course

  • Live lectures (with closed captioning) Wednesdays at 12-1:30pm EST (January 12, 19, 26) and closing lecture at a special time 7pm – 8:30pm EST on February 2.
  • Optional Live Office Hours Mondays at 12 – 1pm EST (January 17, 24, and 31)
  • Weekly Writing assignments January 12 – February 2 (2 per week; posted in the virtual classroom)
  • Connection with peers in a community forum
  • Written feedback post-course on up to 10 pages of your work in progress (with cover letter and synopsis) from guest reader/agent
  • 20 participants max

Characters are the foundation for every aspect of your story. They’re also the vehicle through which readers will connect with your story. Use this course to deepen your understanding of your characters and unlock secrets to make decisions about point of view, plot, pacing and more.

FEEDBACK EXPECTED:

  • Informal written feedback in the Virtual Classroom from peers and faculty
  • Formal written feedback from a publishing professional post-course
Getting to Know Your Character

WHY THIS WORKSHOP?

Character can tell you so much about your story, including what goes “on the page” and what happens behind the scenes. In this four-week course, you will explore character in four key ways:

  • Getting to Know Your Main Character
  • The Influence of Secondary Characters
  • Seeing Characters Through Scene
  • Strengthening Your Characters (with the help of outlines, storyboards, and other tricks)

You’ll engage in faculty lectures and Q&A sessions (one per week), explore resources and complete writing exercises (two per week), and connect with peers via a community forum and optional office hours.

You’ll also receive reader/agent feedback on your cover letter, synopsis, and the first 10 pages of your work in progress post-course (due between February 9 – 16). Written feedback will be returned to you within 4 – 6 weeks.

IT’S A GREAT FIT FOR:

  • Novelists (middle grade or YA) or chapter book writers.
  • Picture Book writers of fiction and/or nonfiction.
  • Those who are working on or have completed a draft. No matter where you are in your draft, exploring character will help grow or revise your story.
  • Those who like the structure of weekly lectures and writing exercises. All sessions take place weekly with connections to writing exercises to keep you in your project. You can also opt for community building during the office hours, with plenty of opportunity to share questions and ideas.

DETAILED AGENDA:

Week One

Wednesday, January 12, 12pm – 1:30pm Eastern: Getting to Know Your Main Character (Live Lecture)

  • Welcome with introductions
  • Opening lecture
  • Q & A
  • Overview of writing assignment, virtual classroom, and optional office hours

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Two writing assignments

Week Two

Monday, January 17 12pm – 1:00pm Eastern: Optional Community Office Hour

  • Get to know your fellow writers.
  • Come with questions and ideas.

Wednesday, January 19, 12pm – 1:30pm Eastern: The Influence of Secondary Characters (Live Lecture)

  • Lecture
  • Q & A
  • Overview of writing assignment and overview of submission process

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Two writing assignments

Week Three

Monday, January 24 12pm – 1:00pm Eastern: Optional Community Office Hour

  • Get to know your fellow writers.
  • Come with questions and ideas.

Wednesday, January 26, 12pm – 1:30pm Eastern: Seeing Characters Through Scene (Live Lecture)

  • Guest author to discuss characters and scene
  • Lecture
  • Q & A

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Two writing assignments

Week Four

Monday, January 31, 12pm – 1:00pm Eastern: Optional Final Community Office Hour

  • Get to know your fellow writers.
  • Agents invited for the Office Hour discussion.

*Wednesday, February 2, 7pm – 8:30pm Eastern: Strengthening Your Characters (with the help of outlines, storyboards, and other tricks) (Live Lecture)
*Note: Closing lecture at special time following World Read Aloud Day celebrations. 

  • Lecture
  • Q & A
  • Closing thoughts (What comes next?!?)

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Prepare for submission (included but optional)

Post-Course
Submission for Critique (Included, but Optional)
Following the course, you will have the option to submit your cover letter, synopsis, and up to ten pages of your work-in-progress for review from an agent or editor. You will receive written feedback (1-2 pages) with information about what’s working, and constructive thoughts from your reader on both the sample writing and your synopsis. This submission is included in the price of the course, but it is optional. If you choose to submit, submissions will be accepted between February 9 – 16, and you will receive feedback within 4 – 6 weeks of your submission.

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

COMMITMENT REQUIRED FOR THE BEST EXPERIENCE:

This multi-week online program is best if you attend and engage in all the sessions live. (Note: If your schedule does not allow you to attend all the live sessions and you would still like to register, that’s OK! You’ll have access to the recordings with closed captioning. They’re posted the day after the session, and they’ll be available through March 31, 2022.)

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

HOW IT IMPACTS KIDS:

Characters are the main way your readers connect with your story. Characters resonate with kids. This course deepens your own understanding of your characters, so that you can create memorable and inspiring work for children and young adults.

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

RELATED RESOURCES:

Characters with Charisma
Making ALL Your Characters Real: a #HFGather Writer Chat with Sarah Aronson & Debbi Michiko Florence
Take Your Character to Work Day
Playing with Point of View: A Webinar with Sarah Aronson

FROM OUR COMMUNITY:

“Sarah Aronson was organized, thorough in addressing character development through many avenues, personable in presentation, eager to pose and engage online dialogue in community as well as being responsive to the exercises that she posed for us.”

“Sarah was a master at character development and so approachable in her delivery. I am grateful for the opportunity to take her class and feel that it’s definitely helped me move forward in my middle-grade fiction book.”

I learned the importance of storyboarding each scene in the book and in the picture books I have been drafting; also the importance of community and sharing ideas.”

Faculty

Sarah Aronson

Sarah Aronson began writing for kids and teens when someone in an exercise class dared her to try. Since then,…
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Kelly Dyksterhouse

Special Guest Kelly Dyksterhouse is a literary agent with Raven Quill Literary Agency. She specializes in fiction and non-fiction from…
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Linda Camacho

Special Guest Linda Camacho is an agent with Gallt & Zacker Literary. After graduating from Cornell University, Linda interned at…
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Alicia D. Williams

Special Guest Alicia D. Williams is the author of Genesis Begins Again, which received the Newbery and Kirkus Prize honors,…
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$599.00