Programs

Plotting & Structuring Your Verse Novel

April 6 - May 5, 2022

Please note: This course is full. Click here to be added to the waiting list.

OVERVIEW:

Multi-Week Online Course
Plotting a verse novel comes with its own unique needs and opportunities. Join Cordelia Jensen to analyze plot structures (non-“traditional,” “traditional,” and everything in between), and then outline your project in this five-week, highly engaging plotting intensive specifically designed for verse novelists.

  • Live sessions at 1:30pm EASTERN each Wednesday, April 6 – May 4* (April 6, 13, 20, 27, and May 4*). The sessions will be approximately 60 – 90 minutes.
  • Weekly structured assignments related to your work-in-progress.
  • Optional (but encouraged) peer-to-peer community hours at 7pm EASTERN on Thursdays (April 7 – May 26) to meet with fellow creatives and share work, and/or discuss responses to weekly assignments.
  • Required and recommended reading throughout the course.
  • Workshop 8 – 10 of your poems on Wednesday, May 4 at 1:30pm Eastern OR on Thursday, May 5 at 7pm Eastern*.  The submission deadline for these poems is May 1.
  • Verse Novel Revision Guide included.
  • 18 participants max

FEEDBACK EXPECTED:

  • Informal written feedback from faculty and peers in the virtual classroom following each assignment.
  • Peer discussion during office hours.
  • Workshop 8-10 poems with live discussion and written feedback from your faculty.  The deadline for these submissions is May 1.

WHY THIS WORKSHOP?

When writing a verse novel, do you have to follow a traditional plot structure?  This is a question we will dive deeply into during this course.
Plotting and Structuring your Verse Novel
When writing verse novels, there is always a dance between poetry and story. This course will help you with the unique challenges of plotting novels in verse: do you write the poems before deciding on structure? Or do you use an outline to organize your writing? In either case, how can you balance pacing, action and character development within the confines of the verse novel? Are there poetry tools can help build your plot?

This five-week course will explore the unique needs, opportunities, and challenges of plotting your novel in verse.  We’ll look at books that plot traditionally, and those that circumvent some aspects of traditional plotting, with sessions on:

  • plot and outlining methods;
  • general poetry and story tips;
  • literary analysis of recommended texts; and
  • an overview of revising for plot and structure.

Writing assignments will encourage you to dig into your own verse novel and consider structure, poetry conventions, action, and character development.

Along with your weekly live lectures, you are encouraged to meet with fellow novelists during unstructured office hours. This community time is offered to provide space for you to learn more about stories, challenges, and one another. Cordelia will not be present during these unstructured sessions.

When you register for the workshop, you will be asked to submit a short summary of the project that you plan to bring to this highly engaging class.

IT’S A GREAT FIT IF:

  • You have an in-progress or completed draft of a middle grade or young adult novel in verse. In this course, you’ll explore working with this form.
  • You have the concept for your middle grade or young adult novel in verse, but need some guidance on structure. This course is specifically designed to share possible forms and structures of novels in verse.
  • You need a workshop that fits into your schedule. This is an online course. All live lectures will be recorded so that you can watch the recordings at a time that best fits your needs. The virtual classroom is available for questions and interaction with your faculty and fellow writers.
  • You’d like a high level of engagement with fellow writers and faculty so that you can experiment and grow as a verse novelist.

DETAILED AGENDA:

At least one week prior to the course, you will receive a link to our virtual classroom where you can introduce yourself to fellow writers and engage in Highlights Foundation related resources (including our Community Standards).

Required reading:

  • Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam
  • Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan

Suggested reading: 

  • Skyscraping by Cordelia Jensen
  • The Way the Light Bends by Cordelia Jensen
  • Every Shiny Thing by Cordelia Jensen

Week One
LIVE via Zoom: Wednesday, April 6, at 1:30pm Eastern

  • Brief introductions and novel in verse overview
  • Review Writing Assignment #1
  • Overview of virtual classroom and how to submit weekly assignments

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Introductions
  • Writing Assignment #1
  • Pre-recorded video on how to best use the virtual classroom features: discussions boards, Community Standards, and recorded content

*Optional peer-to-peer office hour: Thursday, April 7 at 7pm Eastern

Week Two
Live via Zoom: Wednesday, April 13, at 1:30pm Eastern

  • Literary Analysis: Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam; Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan
  • Review Writing Assignment #2
  • Discussion on use of peer-to-peer office hours*

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Writing Assignment #2
  • Peer & faculty feedback engagement

*Optional peer-to-peer office hour: Thursday, April 14 at 7pm Eastern

Week Three

Live via Zoom: Wednesday, April 20, at 1:30pm Eastern

  • Plot & Outlining Methods for Verse Novels Part 1 plus general story tips
  • Review Writing Assignment #3
  • Q & A

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Writing Assignment #3
  • Peer & faculty feedback engagement
  • Overview of submissions for Week 5 Workshopping

*Optional peer-to-peer office hour: Thursday, April 21 at 7pm Eastern

Week Four
Live via Zoom: Wednesday, April 27, at 1:30pm Eastern

  • Plot & Outlining Methods for Verse Novels Part 2 plus general poetry tips
  • Review Writing Assignment #4
  • Overview of submissions for Week 5 Workshopping

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Writing Assignment #4
  • Submission of 8 – 10 poems for workshopping by May 1
  • Peer & faculty feedback engagement

*Optional peer-to-peer office hour: Thursday, April 28 at 7pm Eastern

Week Five (Please note options for workshopping)
Workshop #1 Live via Zoom: Wednesday, May 4, at 1:30pm Eastern

  • Discuss Poetry Submissions & Celebrations
  • Review Cordelia’s Verse Novel Revision Guide

OR Workshop #2 LIVE via Zoom: Thursday, May 5, at 7pm Eastern

  • Discuss Poetry Submissions & Celebrations
  • Review Cordelia’s Verse Novel Revision Guide

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Discuss and Celebrate Submissions of 8 – 10 poems with peer & faculty feedback
  • Invitation to continue peer-to-peer office hours, Thursdays, through May 26

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 or watch all lectures, read suggested texts, and participate in the weekly writing assignments. (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 with closed captioning. They’re posted the day after the session, and they’ll be available through June 30, 2022.)

The Highlights Foundation strives for a safe and inclusive environment. You will have access to our Community Standards prior to the workshop where we ask for your respectful engagement with fellow creatives, including our faculty and staff.

Another commitment that will help you get the most from this workshop is the submission deadline for workshopping 8 – 10 poems during Week Five. The submission deadline is May 1 to allow faculty and fellow novelists ample time to familiarize themselves with your work in advance of your meeting.  If this is an issue, please let us know.

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:

The message and story of your verse novel may or may not be served best by certain plot structures.  Explore the ways you can plot your story to help those reading experience it fully.

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

SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE:

Scholarships are available for this workshop–the application deadline is March 4, 2022.
Click here to apply!
For more information about scholarships, click here.

RESOURCES:

Required reading:

  • Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam
  • Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan

Suggested reading:

  • Skyscraping by Cordelia Jensen
  • The Way the Light Bends by Cordelia Jensen
  • Every Shiny Thing by Cordelia Jensen

The Verse Novel: If I Can Do It, So Can You, by Kathryn Erskine
Imagining an Image System for Your Novel in Verse
https://www.diverseverse.com/, founded by Padma Venkatraman
Auditioning Poetry Devices for Your Verse Novel’s Voice

FROM OUR COMMUNITY:

“Cordelia was an excellent teacher and shared above and beyond and made the whole class experience worthwhile and informative.”

“Cordelia was kind and generous, knowledgeable and encouraging. She listened well and read our work carefully, offering insightful comments and encouraging remarks. She made everyone feel good about their process, and made sure we understood that writing is a personal experience that we make as we go along, and that there is no right way.”

Faculty & Special Guests

Cordelia Jensen

Cordelia Jensen graduated with a MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts in…
Learn more

$399.00

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