Programs

Writing Humor: Finding the Funny Bone that Works for You & Your Novel

October 20 - November 3, 2022

OVERVIEW:

3-Week Online Course
Join middle grade author Chris Tebbetts for weekly live sessions to learn more about bringing humorous and heartfelt moments to your novel, in a style that is right for you and your story.

  • Live sessions at 7pm – 8:30pm EASTERN (Thursdays, October 20, 27, & November 3)
  • Feedback on up to 2,500 words of your story, with a 1:1 20-minute meeting to review the feedback after the final session.
  • Discussion and interaction in the virtual classroom with weekly writing prompts.
  • Optional Community Office Hours for peer-to-peer connection (no faculty present).  Optional office hours will take place on Mondays at 12pm Eastern (October 24 – December 19).
  • 20 participants max

FEEDBACK EXPECTED:

  • Informal written feedback from faculty and peers in the virtual classroom.
  • Written feedback from Chris Tebbetts on up to 2,500 words of your story, with a 1:1, 20-minute meeting to review the feedback after the final session. Submissions are due November 3, 2022; feedback will be provided at your 1:1 session.

WHY THIS WORKSHOP?

Stories for middle grade and teen readers can be told in so many ways. Laugh-out-loud contemporaries. Action-packed graphic memoirs. Emotionally-charged novels-in-verse.  No matter which way you decide to tell your story, you can infuse humor onto the page.
Highlights Foundation logo: Writing Humor: Finding the Funny Bone that Works for You & Your Novel. Online starting October 20. Chris Tebbetts wth special guests
That’s because humor works on so many levels in middle grade and teen novels. Humor shapes characters and relationships. It brings settings to life. It amplifies emotional energy to make a reader laugh and/or cry.

But humor can be difficult to get onto the page.  Just like many other writing skills, developing humor is one part writing practice, and one part play.

In this course, we’ll:

  • Find the funny bone that is right for you.
  • Gauge your book’s humorous tone: mildly amusing? Absolutely ludicrous? Somewhere in between?
  • Build character consistencies and relationships as they relate to humor.
  • Uncover the beats of writing humorous dialogue.
  • Break down the mechanics and rhythm of humor on the page.
  • Engage in weekly writing prompts to help you play! (inside and outside your work-in-progress)
  • Participate in a community forum to connect with peers.

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. They’re usually posted the day after the session, and they’ll be available through December 31, 2022.

IT’S A GREAT FIT IF:

  • You write middle grade or teen fiction or memoir, or you are looking to start writing for a middle grade or teen audience.
  • You have an idea, a work-in-progress, or a completed first draft. You can participate in this workshop with or without a work in progress.
  • You know that your novel needs some humor but you aren’t sure how to get there. This program will help you see that humor can fit into most novels in a natural way, without force. In addition to the weekly lectures and writing prompts, you’ll also receive feedback from Chris on a writing sample.
  • 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.

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). There are no pre-course submissions.
(Discussion and hands-on topics covered throughout include: Mechanics & Rhythm; Tension; Comedy Theory; Character Types & Tropes; Improvisation for Writers, as well as special guest sessions on Voice, the Comedy Writer’s Toolbox, & Non-joke-driven Humor.)

Week One
Thursday, October 20, 7pm – 8:30pm Eastern (Live Session Via Zoom)

  • Welcome and Introductions
  • Discussion One
  • Exercise One & Sharing
  • Overview of virtual classroom

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Introductions
  • Writing exercise (Post your writing on the discussion board if you feel comfortable.)

Monday, October 24, from 12pm – 1pm Eastern: Optional Community Peer-to-Peer Office Hour (no faculty in attendance)

 

Week Two
Thursday, October 27, 7pm – 8:30pm Eastern (Live Session Via Zoom)

  • Special Guest Q & A with Lisa Yee (In Conversation about Voice)
  • Discussion Two

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Writing exercise (Post your writing on the discussion board if you feel comfortable.)
  • Pre-recorded craft conversation with virtual guest Kekla Magoon on Situational and Non-joke-driven Humor

Monday, October 31, from 12pm – 1pm Eastern: Optional Community Peer-to-Peer Office Hour (no faculty in attendance)

 

Week Three
Thursday, November 3, 7pm – 8:30pm Eastern (Live Session Via Zoom)

  • Special Guest Q & A with Molly Burnham (In Conversation about The Comedy Writer’s Toolbox)
  • Discussion Three

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Writing exercise (Post your writing on the discussion board if you feel comfortable.)
  • Sign up for your 1:1 session with Chris (1:1s will take place at a mutually convenient time between November 13 – 22)
    • Manuscript submissions are due by November 3 for 1:1 consultations.

Monday, November 7, from 12pm – 1pm Eastern: Optional Community Peer-to-Peer Office Hour (no faculty in attendance) Optional peer-to-peer office hours will continue on Mondays through December 19, 2022.

 

Post-Course

  • Written feedback from Chris Tebbetts on up to 2,500 words of your story with a 1:1, 20-minute meeting to review the feedback after the final session. Submissions are due November 3, 2022; feedback will be provided at your 1:1 session.

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 December 31, 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.

You’ll also want to take advantage of the 1:1 feedback from Chris Tebbetts, who will give feedback on a chapter of your selection (no more than 10 pages). The submission deadline is November 3 to allow faculty ample time to familiarize themselves with your work in advance of your meeting.  If you do not have pages for Chris to review, you can still schedule to meet with him 1:1 for a private consultation.

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:

Humor engages middle grade and teen readers on an emotional level. Develop ways to infuse humor into your novel so children can connect with your story.

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

RELATED RESOURCES:

Chris Tebbetts: The Secret Is, There Is No Secret
Cynthia Leitich Smith & Uma Krishnaswami: A Conversation about Humor
Blog Post on Visual Outlining with Chris Tebbetts
Chris Tebbetts: As Simple As Possible: Three Ways To Tighten Your Prose
Chris Tebbetts: Mining Our Personal Fascinations for Story Material

FROM OUR COMMUNITY:

“Chris Tebbetts is an extraordinary teacher—his direct critique went straight to the heart of my novel and the techniques he provided, through the live and recorded sessions gave me revision tools which are relevant to my manuscript and to my overall writing goals.”

Faculty

Chris Tebbetts

Chris Tebbetts is the author and co-author of many books for young readers. Titles include the #1 New York Times…
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Lisa Yee

Special Guest Lisa Yee’s groundbreaking Millicent Min, Girl Genius debuted 20 years ago. Since then, she’s penned more than 20…
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Molly B. Burnham

Special Guest Molly B. Burnham, author of the Teddy Mars series, was awarded the 2016 Sid Fleishman Humor Award, and…
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Kekla Magoon

Special Guest Kekla Magoon is the author of many award-winning novels and nonfiction books for young readers, including The Season…
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$499.00