Programs

Becoming a Nonfiction Writer: A Two-Part Online Course

September 16 - 24, 2022

OVERVIEW:

A 2-Part Online Course

This is an online course with two parts: an intensive weekend, followed by one week of mini-lectures, Q & A sessions, and 1:1 consultations. You’ll engage in many aspects of writing nonfiction for children to create a strong foundation for your work, and build a network of fellow writers who share an interest in nonfiction.

  • Part 1: September 16 – 18, 2022
    • Intensive workshop
    • Writing exercises
    • Small group sharing
  • Part 2: September 19 – 24 (Some consultations may extend into the following week.)
    • 1:1 consultations
    • Live lectures
    • Open Q & A
  • 24 participants max

FEEDBACK EXPECTED:

  • Informal feedback will be available following writing exercises.
  • A 20-minute private consultation with faculty is included to discuss ideas, goals, project related research and craft questions.
  • An optional after-course written critique will be available. Following the workshop, you will have an option to add a written critique from your faculty. After selecting your reader, you will submit your work-in-progress (up to 1,200 words) plus your cover letter. You will receive written feedback on your project within 4-6 weeks of submission. The cost for this optional critique is $100.

WHY THIS WORKSHOP?

You are ready to begin your work in writing nonfiction for children and teens, but where should you start?

With a great idea, of course!  But what about…

  • The submission process for nonfiction?
  • Digging deeper into curiosity and reader engagement?
  • Developing the tools of narrative structure and word choice?

These are the foundations of writing nonfiction for kids and teens. Explore these ideas and more in this online workshop.

Together, we’ll move through two parts: a two-day intensive (part 1) followed by consultations, live lectures, and Q & As (part 2). Read on for a detailed agenda.

IT’S A GREAT FIT IF:

  • You are working on a biography, history, nature, or STEAM/STEM-themed book for kids or teens. Let our faculty help you craft an engaging, nonfiction book for kids.
  • You love nonfiction and are eager to write TRUE stories. This workshop provides a comprehensive introduction to the world of nonfiction children’s books.
  • You have an in-progress or finished manuscript and aren’t sure how or where to submit your work. Pitches, proposals, and publishing opportunities will all be explored during this workshop.
  • You enjoy online learning. This two-part course relies on LIVE Zoom interaction and contributions in the virtual classroom.

DETAILED AGENDA:

Pre-workshop: You will receive a link to our virtual platform where you can introduce yourself to fellow writers, engage in Highlights Foundation related resources (including our Community Standards), and keep up to date on the schedule.

Note: If your schedule does not allow you to attend live sessions, 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 10/31/2022.


Part One: Weekend Intensive (September 16 – 18)

Friday, September 16 at 7pm – 9pm Eastern: Live Zoom session

  • Welcome
  • Opening Session: Deep Diving Into Nonfiction: What it is; What it isn’t; and Opportunities for Publication, with Jennifer Swanson, followed by Q & A
  • Small group introductions & writing activity

Saturday, September 17 from 12pm – 5pm Eastern (with breaks): Live Zoom session

  • 12 – 1:30pm Eastern: Picture Book Biographies & Graphic Novel Biographies: An Overview with Teresa Robeson, followed by Q & A
  • 2pm -3:30pm Eastern: Researching Your Nonfiction Book with Jennifer Swanson, followed by Q & A
  • 4pm – 5pm: Optional Gather Hour: This is a community-building space where we can get to know fellow writers participating in this course (no faculty present)

Sunday, September 18 from 12pm – 2pm Eastern: Live Zoom session

  • 12pm – 1:30pm Eastern: HOOKING READERS with Your Nonfiction with Teresa Robeson and Jennifer Swanson
  • 1:30pm – 2pm Eastern:  Review structure of the coming week: what to bring and what to expect of the consultations and how to use the Canvas classroom

 


Part Two: 1:1 Consultations, Lectures, Q&As (September 19 – 24)

Monday, September 19 – Saturday, September 24: 1:1 Consultations (Some consultations may extend into the following week.)

  • 20-minute consultations with faculty (Schedule TBD).
  • Faculty will not review manuscripts, but will answer project related questions and discuss ideas.

Wednesday, September 21 from 7pm – 8:30pm Eastern: Live Zoom session

  • Nonfiction Revision Tips with hands-on exercise, followed by Q & A

Thursday, September 22 from 7pm – 8:00pm Eastern: OPTIONAL Zoom session

  • Optional Gather Hour: This is a community-building space where we can get to know fellow writers participating in this course (no faculty present).

Saturday, September 24 from 12pm – 2:30pm Eastern: Live Zoom session

  • 12pm – 1:00pm Eastern: Submission Basics—Proposals, Cover Letters, and Work-for-hire with Jennifer Swanson
  • 1:00pm – 2pm Eastern:  Q & A with Visiting Editor
  • 2pm – 2:30pm Eastern: Closing comments and questions, followed by a review of optional written critiques.

 


An optional after-course written critique will be available. Following the workshop, you will have an option to add a written critique from your faculty. After selecting your reader, you will submit your work-in-progress (up to 1,200 words) plus your cover letter. You will receive written feedback on your project within 4-6 weeks of submission. The cost for this optional critique is $100.


 

COMMITMENT REQUIRED FOR THE BEST EXPERIENCE:

This course is best if you attend and engage in all the live sessions, including the 1:1 consultation with faculty. Participants are encouraged to visit the peer hours and share work.

(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 October 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:

Children both love and learn from nonfiction. This course will give you the foundation to create the very best nonfiction for kids!

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

RELATED RESOURCES:

Setting a Scene with a STEM Book
A Passion for Writing Nonfiction
7 Ways to Make Your Nonfiction Stand Out
10 Things to Consider When Writing a Picture Book Biography
Making Science Fun…or Funny

FROM OUR COMMUNITY:

“I absolutely loved the energy and enthusiasm of Ms. Swanson and Ms. Robeson. They were able to impart their knowledge and share their insight in an easy-to-understand fashion.”

“Both instructors were extremely well prepared for the course and developed lectures based on feedback from the class participants. They gave plenty of opportunities to ask questions and provided helpful feedback.”

“Even though we were on Zoom, I could sense a community of writers being established throughout the workshop.”

 

Are you looking for information about scholarships? Find out more about the Highlights Foundation scholarship program here.

Faculty

Jennifer Swanson

Jennifer Swanson is the award-winning author of over 40+ nonfiction books for children, mostly about science and technology. Jennifer’s love…
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Teresa Robeson

Teresa Robeson (teresarobeson.com) draws upon her Chinese heritage, immigrant sensibilities, as well as her background in science and love of…
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$499.00