Getting To Know Your Novel

February 15 - March 31, 2022


This workshop is FULL. Click here to add your name to the Waitlist.

Multi-Week Online Course

  • Live Lectures with closed captioning available Tuesdays at 12-1:30pm EST (February 15, 22, and March 1, 8)
  • Optional Live Office Hours Mondays at 12-1pm EST (February 21, 28; March 7, 14, 21)
  • Small group, guest faculty-led manuscript workshopping of first chapter, synopsis, and cover letter (6-8 writers per group; date/time will be based on your group assignment. Submissions for workshopping due March 15, with time to review peer submissions built into the course March 21-28.)
  • Weekly Writing assignments February 15 – March 8 (2 per week; posted in the virtual classroom)
  • Connection with peers in a community forum and during office hours
  • 18 participants max

Make real progress on your novel by getting to know it at a deeper level through craft lectures, idea brainstorming, writing exercises, and first chapter/synopsis workshopping with faculty and peer support.


  • Informal written feedback in the Virtual Classroom from peers and faculty
  • Peer and faculty feedback during small group workshopping of first chapter and synopsis
Getting to Know Your Novel


Sometimes when you’re writing novels, you need help from someone else. You need guidance to help articulate what you want to say—to get you away from the words on the page and back into the inspiration and intuition that brought you there to begin with. That’s what this course does. As Sarah Aronson says, “In this class, we can help each other feel safe and get back on track.”

This multi-week intensive features live lectures, writing exercises, and multiple opportunities for feedback on your work-in-progress.

You’ll have a unique opportunity to improve your novel through:

  • Engaging lectures: Theme & YOU; Characters & Plot; Secondary Characters at Center Stage; Scene Work: Flashbacks, Prologue, Action, & Incredible Endings
  • Optional Office Hours: To ask questions, talk process, and brainstorm ideas.
  • Revision time: Between the final lecture and your submission, you will have time to implement your revisions and reach out to your faculty and peers for advice and support.
  • Faculty & peer feedback: After you’ve made revisions, you will meet in small groups facilitated to get the most out of the discussions about your work and your remaining questions.


  • Novelists (middle grade or YA) or chapter book writers. Even if you’ve previously written a novel, the course will provide support for your new project.
  • Those who are working on or have completed a draft. If you have a draft, a half-draft, or a character that you know you want to write about, you can use the exercises and lectures to help you brainstorm and find more elements of your novel.
  • Those who feel stuck. If you’re halfway through a manuscript and feel like you just can’t make progress, this course has exercises for that! Sometimes writer’s block is not actually a block. It’s your novel telling you to start digging, to look further down the road, to think bigger. Maybe it’s telling you that you’re too busy and to relax a little bit. Whatever it is, this course will help you figure it out and get to the end.
  • 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.
  • You want feedback on your work. Learning to trust others is one of the most important skills an author can have. This course provides multiple feedback perspectives from faculty, facilitators, and fellow writers.

Detailed Agenda:

Week One
Tuesday, February 15, 12pm – 1:30pm Eastern: THEME & What YOU Bring to Your Novel

  • Welcome with introductions
  • Opening lecture: THEME & What YOU Bring to Your Novel
  • Q & A
  • Overview of writing assignments, virtual classroom, and optional office hours

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Two writing assignments

Week Two
Monday, February 21, 12pm – 1:00pm Eastern: Optional Office Hour

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

Tuesday, February 22, 12pm – 1:30pm Eastern: Main Characters & Plot

  • Lecture Two : Main Characters & Plot
  • Q & A
  • Overview of writing assignments

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Two writing assignments

Week Three
Monday, February 28, 12pm – 1:00pm Eastern: Optional Office Hour

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

Tuesday, March 1, 12pm – 1:30pm Eastern: Secondary Characters Take Center Stage

  • Lecture Three: Secondary Characters Take Center Stage
  • Q & A
  • Overview of writing assignment

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Two writing assignments

Week Four
Monday, March 7, 12pm – 1:00pm Eastern: Optional Office Hour

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

Tuesday, March 8, 12pm – 1:30pm Eastern: Focusing on Scene Work

  • Lecture Four: Flashbacks, Prologue, Action, and Incredible Endings
  • Q & A
  • Overview of submission and small group process

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Prepare for Submission

Week Five
Monday, March 14, 12pm – 1:00pm Eastern: Optional Office Hour

  • Share revision process questions, ideas, and more.
  • Small Group Facilitators invited.

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Submission due by March 15 at 8pm Eastern (no live lecture this week to prepare)

Week Six
Monday, March 21, 12pm – 1:00pm Eastern: Optional Office Hour

  • General discussion before small group meetings.
  • Small Group Facilitators invited.

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Read your small group submissions, respond to writer-led questions (no live lecture this week to allow time to review submissions from your small group of 6-8 writers)

Week Seven
Small Group Discussions (Your group will be assigned. You will only attend one discussion.)

  • Monday, March 28, 12pm – 2:30pm Eastern, or
  • Tuesday, March 29, 12pm – 2:30pm Eastern, or
  • Thursday, March 31, 7pm – 9:30pm Eastern


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 of live sessions with closed captioning. They’re posted the day after the session, and they’ll be available through April 30, 2022.)

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


Your novel can make a difference in a child’s life. Get support to know and understand your own story, so you can bring it to children and young adults.

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


Playing with Point of View: A Webinar with Sarah Aronson
Faculty Interview: Sarah Aronson
Listen for Stories
Working Writers Chat with Chris Tebbetts and Sarah Aronson
Craft, Community and Your Career: Lessons Learned
Mitali Perkins and Sarah Aronson on Art, Creativity and Vulnerability


“This is by far the most supportive and professional workshop I’ve ever been to – I felt nurtured and more than achieved my goals.”

“Sarah’s warmth, generosity, responsiveness, and great insights made this class one of the most outstanding I have ever taken. She set not only the structure but most importantly the tone that made this workshop so successful from its online beginning to its in-person culmination.”

“Sarah is a thoughtful teacher who is generous with her time. She truly cares about her students!”


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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Nicole Valentine

Special Guest Nicole Valentine ( is an author of middle grade fiction. She earned her MFA in Writing for Children…
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K.X. Song

K. X. Song is a Highlights Foundation Diversity fellow and a HG Wells Turnill Prize honoree. Her picture book, My Elastical…
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Meera Trehan

Special Guest Meera Trehan read as much as she could as a child, memorized poems, and ate enough cookies to…
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