Crafting Meaningful Contemporary Novels: An Online Course with Editor Kat Brzozowski

Online | Novels
Join editor Kat Brzozowski to develop the essential elements of character and voice that will help you craft a deeply meaningful contemporary novel for today's readers.  The course features weekly live discussions and writing exercises, Q&A sessions, 1:1 feedback, and more.

October 8 - October 29

Online

$599

Overview

A 4-Week Online Course

Join editor Kat Brzozowski to develop the essential elements of character and voice that will help you craft a deeply meaningful contemporary novel for today’s readers.  The course features weekly live discussions and writing exercises, Q&A sessions, 1:1 feedback, and more.

  • Live sessions at 12:00 – 2pm EST on Tuesdays (October 8, 15, 22, and 29).
  • Weekly writing exercises.
  • Recommended reading throughout the course.
  • Feedback from editor Kat Brzozowski on your cover letter, synopsis, and the first 10 pages of your novel (includes written feedback, plus a 1:1 20-minute meeting to review the feedback after the final session).
  • 18 participants max

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, 2024.

Why This Workshop?

Contemporary novels speak to kids about their world and their place within it.  So when middle grade and young adult readers invest their time in a story, they want to feel connected to its characters and themes.

To write a book that resonates, we must pay careful attention to the essential elements of character and voice.

Join editor Kat Brzozowski to learn more about how these elements can help you craft a deeply meaningful contemporary middle grade or young adult novel.  Explore:

  • Ways to bring your authorial voice to your contemporary novel,
  • How to pull forward character motivations and momentum,
  • and how to get the most out of your characters’ relationships (whether they’re romantic, friendly, or familial).

Highlights of the course include:

  • Weekly presentations from editor Kat Brzozowski with time for Q&A
  • Resources and writing exercises
  • Feedback on your cover letter, synopsis, and the first 10 pages of your novel

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, 2024.

Feedback Expected

  • Informal written feedback from faculty and peers in the virtual classroom.
  • Written feedback from editor Kat Brzozowski on your cover letter, synopsis, and the first 10 pages of your novel, paired with a 20-minute 1:1 meeting following the final session to review feedback.
    • You do not need to have a completed novel to take this course. You will be asked for up to 10 pages from the beginning of your novel by November 3 for 1:1 consultation. If you have fewer than 10 pages, that is okay! Use the time to discuss ideas with Kat and ask questions about the next steps in crafting your contemporary novel for children or teens.

It’s a Great Fit If…

  • You write contemporary fiction. You can participate in this workshop with or without a work in progress. Be prepared to work on the weekly writing assignments to help grow your ideas.
  • You have an in-progress or completed draft of a middle grade or young adult novel. You’ll discover ways to enrich your novel throughout this program.
  • You want to make sure that readers connect with your characters. Kat knows how to build relatable characters in contemporary novels. In this course, you’ll discover the essential tools needed for this work.
  • 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 novelist.

Detailed Agenda

All Times are Eastern Standard Time.  Click on the headings below to explore the agenda in more detail.

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).

Week 1
Tuesday, October 8, 12pm – 2pm Eastern (Live Session Via Zoom)

  • Welcome and Introductions
  • Discussion One: Characters and Relationships Matter in MG and YA
  • Overview of virtual classroom and week one writing exercises

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Introductions
  • Discussion of writing exercises
Week 2
Tuesday, October 15, 12pm – 2pm Eastern (Live Session Via Zoom)

  • Discussion Two: All About Voice!
  • Overview of week two writing exercises

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Discussion of writing exercises
  • Sign-up for 1:1s with Kat Brzozowski
Week 3
Tuesday, October 22, 12pm – 2pm Eastern (Live Session Via Zoom)

  • Discussion Three: The Needs of Contemporary Novels
  • Overview of week three writing exercises
  • Q & A about cover letter, synopsis, and 10-page submission

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Discussion of writing exercises
  • Q & A thread for special guest
Week 4
Tuesday, October 29, 12pm – 2pm Eastern (Live Session Via Zoom)

  • Discussion with Special Guest
  • Bring It All Together: Open Q&A with Kat

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Optional thread for peer-to-peer groups (connecting post course)
  • Submissions due for 1:1 meeting with Kat by November 3
1:1 Meetings
  • Manuscript submissions due by November 3 for 1:1 consultations. Receive editor feedback on your cover letter, synopsis, and the first 10 pages of your novel.
  • Sessions to review submissions/feedback take place at mutually scheduled time within 6 weeks of the course closing to review feedback.
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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, 2024.)

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 the faculty. Manuscript submissions due by November 3 for 1:1 consultations. Receive editor feedback on your cover letter, synopsis, and the first 10 pages of your novel. Sessions to review submissions/feedback take place at mutually scheduled time within 6 weeks of the course closing to review feedback.  If you have fewer than 10 pages, that is okay! Use the time to discuss ideas with Kat and ask questions about the next steps in crafting your contemporary novel for children or teens.

How It Impacts Kids

Readers of contemporary MG and YA novels want to feel connected to the themes and characters in the stories where they invest time. This course will help bring these essential elements into your contemporary novel.

Testimonials from Our Community

“Kat is the first person I’ve heard actually describe what voice is that made sense.”

“Approachable and friendly and welcomed any questions we had. I loved every session.”

“I thought Kat Brzozowski was terrific. I found her very honest and enthusiastic. I appreciated her insight and enjoyed hearing her speak. She did a great job of balancing guest speakers as well as giving talks and reading & writing assignments.”

“Kat was friendly, approachable, accessible, and down-to-earth. I felt very comfortable with her. I also loved that she never put anyone on the spot.”

Meet the Faculty

Special Guests

DETAILS

October 8 - October 29

$599

Online

Access

When you register for this course, you’ll receive information via email to confirm.

For mini courses (one or two nights only), you’ll receive webinar links immediately to use on the evening of the course.

For longer courses, you’ll receive an invitation to your virtual classroom as the workshop approaches.

Learn more about the technology that we use for our online workshops.

Our Mission in Action

Share Your Story, Inspire a Child
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Equity & Inclusion in Kidlit
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The Highlights Foundation positively impacts children by amplifying the voices of storytellers who inform, educate, and inspire children to become their best selves.  Learn more about our impact.