Start Now: Plotting Your 2023 MG or YA Novel

December 9 - 11, 2022

Online Weekend Intensive

Gearing up to work on a middle grade or young adult novel in 2023?

Then join authors Sona Charaipotra, Dante Medema, and guest Trisha Tobias to set goals and build the roadmap to your finished draft, with an eye toward the business of publishing.  This online weekend intensive will include presentations, small group discussions, handouts, and more.

  • Live Lectures (with closed captioning and recorded for those who cannot attend live)
    • Friday, December 9 (7pm – 9pm Eastern)
    • Saturday, December 10 (12 – 4pm Eastern)
    • Sunday, December 11 (12 – 4pm Eastern)
  • Hands-on exercises to build your roadmap for your 2023 MG or YA Novel
  • Post-course critique options (at an additional cost) to review your novel’s first chapter, and/or your pitch and query letter, and/or your proposed outline.
  • 40 participants max

Feedback Expected:

  • Informal support and feedback during LIVE sessions
  • Post-Course Written Critique Opportunities with Sona Charaipotra and/or Dante Medema and/or Trisha Tobias. Choose one for $100, two for $200, or three for $300.  Space is limited. Should you be interested in this opportunity, you will be invited to submit your work between January 13 – 20, 2023. Registration for post-course critiques will open immediately following the last LIVE session.
    • Dante Medema will review your pitch and query letter, providing written feedback on your submission. You will receive written feedback within 4-6 weeks of submission.
    • Sona Charaipotra will review the first chapter (up to 10 pages) of your work in progress, providing written feedback on your submission. You will receive written feedback within 4-6 weeks of submission.
    • Trisha Tobias will review your novel’s outline (up to 10 pages) for your work in progress, providing written feedback on your submission. You will receive written feedback within 4-6 weeks of submission.


If you want support as you outline your new novel for the new year, this is the course for you!
Start Now: Plotting Your 2023 MG or YA Novel. Online Weekend Intensive, Dec. 9-11. Photos of Sona Charaipotra, Dante Medema and special guest Trisha Tobias
You’ll learn plotting techniques, engage in live lectures, participate in small-group discussions with peers, and apply the practices to your yet-to-come novel!

In addition, Sona, Dante, and Trisha want to share ideas about the business of publishing.  Sona says: “We’ll be talking about what you can control (the writing) and what you can’t necessarily control (publishing and the state of the entire world, so to speak).”

During our weekend together, you will:

  • Craft a vision for your yet-to-come novel’s purpose
  • Discover how your MG or YA novel fits into a 3-Act structure
  • Create loglines and pitches
  • Explore goal setting for 2023 that will help you draft your new novel

Throughout the workshop, you’ll receive:

  • Informal feedback on ideas and exercises.
  • Open and ongoing communication with your faculty.
  • Tools and tricks to explore strategies that best fit your needs with this project (and others!)


  • You have an idea for a new novel. Prepare for your 2023 project with this intensive weekend.
  • You are a middle grade or young adult novelist, getting ready to work on a new project. Come learn strategies for building your plot.
  • You quickly drafted a project, and are looking at a major revision. Maybe you drafted during the month of November, and now want to investigate the beats and outline of your project before digging into a major revision.
  • You write genre fiction, or contemporary. Story is story. Whatever you write, we can help.
  • You like the structure of a weekend intensive with all sessions taking place over the course of three days, with small group opportunities and large group lectures.


Friday, December 9, 7-9pm Eastern (via Zoom)

Part 1: Let’s Start at the Beginning, What is a logline?

  • Welcome
  • Small Group Introductions: Share your name and a 2-3 sentence summary of your 2023 goals for this project
  • Session 1: “What’s a Logline and Pitch, and How to Nail It”
  • Homework: Prepare your logline and pitch for our revision/expansion session tomorrow


Saturday, December 10, 12-4pm Eastern (via Zoom)

Part 2: 3-Act Structure

  • Session 2: “Expanding Your Logline and Pitch Via 3 Act Structure”
  • Small group discussion: Using your homework, what do you see as revision or expansion of your 3-Act Structure (Dante, Sona, and Trisha will visit your small groups)

1:30 – 2 Break

Part 3: Outlining & Your Goals

  • In-Conversation: A Discussion on Outlining, facilitated by Trisha Tobias
  • Session 3: “Methods for Outlining and Creating a Roadmap for Plot”
  • Small group discussion: Character discovery as an engine for plot
  • Homework: Reflect on outlining and discoveries, what might work for you for this project?


Sunday, December 11, 12 – 4pm Eastern (via Zoom)

Part 4: Bringing it All Together

  • Small group discussion: Share your homework reflection (Trisha, Dante, and Sona will visit groups)
  • Session 4: “Finalizing Your Roadmap for Your Book”

1:30 – 2 Break

Part 5: The Business of Writing MG & YA Novels

  • Session 5: “Writing as a Practice and Publishing as a Business”
  • In-Conversation: Writing and Publishing Q & A facilitated by Trisha Tobias
  • Sharing: Next steps, new ideas, new year and new stories!
  • Closing: Thank yous and guidelines for optional critiques

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


This weekend intensive is best if you attend or watch all lectures. We recommend setting aside time to try the homework and reflections so that you can participate in the small group discussions. (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 January 31, 2023.)

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.

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


Readers deserve the best! Take the time to prepare and plan your next novel so that you can bring the very best to your readers.

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



“Both Sona and Dante were so open with sharing their methods and so giving with their advice. Love that it truly felt like a “workshop” and not a “class.” But love that there were also elements of instruction.”

“Sona Charaipotra and Dante Medema were honest, enthusiastic, supportive, knowledgeable and welcoming.”

“The breakout groups were great. Giving time to review homework and connect was helpful. There was a real sense of community.”

“Highly interactive, very supportive and incredibly talented authors sharing their craft, tips, tricks and more. So encouraging and inspiring along with practical advice and top tools for writing outlines and plotting.”

“I really enjoyed the intensive weekend format of this workshop. The breakout rooms were handled seamlessly and their small size made discussion easy and useful.”


Sona Charaipotra

The author of the YA doc dramedy Symptoms of a Heartbreak, Sona Charaipotra is not a doctor — much to…
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Dante Medema

Dante Medema is an author of books for young readers. Her debut novel, The Truth Project (HarperTeen / Quill Tree…
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Trisha Tobias

Special Guest Trisha Tobias is an associate developmental editor at YA book packager Dovetail Fiction, a 2019-2021 Highlights Foundation Diversity…
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