Muslim Storyteller Whole Novel Workshop: A Funded Program for Middle Grade and Young Adult Writers

Online | Novels, Essential Conversations, In-Community Retreats
A grant-funded program for Muslim middle grade or young adult novelists.

August 8 - June 7, 2025

Online

Free

Overview

Thanks to funding from the Doris Duke Foundation (DDF), the Highlights Foundation is able to host programming for Muslim Storytellers through 2025, including this transformative program for novelists. Through the Building Bridges Program, DDF works to elevate U.S. Muslim stories with the goal of increasing mutual understanding and well-being among diverse populations for the benefit of building stronger, inclusive communities.

Apply for this two-part,  in-community opportunity to have your entire draft (up to 80,000 words) of a novel read by faculty, with detailed written feedback and a private consultation provided. This online program is for middle grade and young adult novelists from the Muslim community. You must have a finished draft of your novel by January 2025.

  • Part One: A six-month online program for middle grade and young adult novelists from the Muslim community. September 2024 – February 2025
  • Part Two: 5-day/4-night Retreat with your workshop peers and faculty at the Highlights Foundation Retreat Center. May 5 – 9, 2025

Details include:

  • A welcome session + 4-craft based lectures (online), A guided session on offering and receiving feedback + 4- peer-to-peer roundtable discussions (online), A Muslim-centered DEIB session + 4 – community-building opportunities (online)
  • A Whole Novel review and consultation (online), + 5-day/4-night retreat at the Highlights Foundation with your fellow writers and faculty, May 5 – 9, 2025
  • Apply by August 8, 2024
  • Limited to 16 storytellers
  • Storytellers will be selected and notified on or before September 1, 2024
  • There is no application fee.
  • The grant covers the cost of the whole program for accepted novelists: online lectures and experiences, the whole novel review and consultation, and the 5-day/4-night retreat on our campus.
  • Apply on or before August 8, 2024 (with final notifications on or before September 1, 2024)
  • ONLINE:
    • Welcome to accepted novelists: Thursday, September 26, 2024
    • Lectures: Thursdays: October 3, November 7, December 5, and January 9 at 7:30pm – 8:30pm Eastern;
    • Peer to Peer Workshopping: Thursdays: October 10, November 14, December 12, January 16, and February 6 at 7:30pm – 8:30pm Eastern;
    • Panels and Community Hours: Thursdays: October 17, November 21, December 19, January 23, and February 13 at 7:30pm – 8:30pm Eastern
    • All lectures and panels are recorded.
    • Peer to Peer Workshopping is not recorded. Your live attendance is expected at the peer-to-peer sessions in an effort to support fellow storytellers.
  • 1:1 Feedback:
    • Complete manuscript submissions due by February 13, 2025
    • Feedback letters delivered to writers by April 14, 2025
    • 60-minute, 1:1 Private Zoom Consultation: Scheduled at a mutually convenient time, April 18 – 25
  • In-Person:
    • 5-day/4-night Retreat: May 5 – 9, 2025 at the Highlights Foundation Retreat Center
  • 16 participants max

Why Do I Need to Apply to this Program?

The Whole Novel Workshop is reserved for novelists who have made significant independent progress on their drafts and need a review of the “whole novel” to move forward in their revision goals. The grant covers 16 students to take part in this transformative opportunity.

We ask that you apply to the course to make sure that the Whole Novel format is the best fit for your goals. Please submit:

  • The first 5 – 10 pages from the middle grade or young adult manuscript you wish to workshop (this novel must be finished by January 2025)
  • A one-page synopsis or general outline
  • Tentative page count, workshop goals, and a short bio (including how you are connected to this project and the Muslim community)

There is very limited space available in this program for middle grade and young adult novelists. You will be notified of your acceptance status no later than September 1, 2024.

Why This Workshop?

“This experience was transformational not just as an author, but as a Muslim, who grew up in the US, and has never had the chance to know what it feels like to be part of the majority.”

Thanks to funding from the Doris Duke Foundation (DDF), the Highlights Foundation is able to host programming for Muslim Storytellers through 2025, including this transformative program for novelists. Through the Building Bridges Program, DDF works to elevate U.S. Muslim stories with the goal of increasing mutual understanding and well-being among diverse populations for the benefit of building stronger, inclusive communities.

Apply for this in-community opportunity to have your entire draft (up to 80,000 words) of a novel read by faculty, with detailed written feedback and a private consultation provided. This online program is for middle grade and young adult novelists from the Muslim community. You must have a finished draft of your novel by January 2025.

This virtual course features:

  • Rich presentations hosted by Muslim Storytellers
  • Writing exercises and peer workshopping
  • A feedback letter offering written insights and questions about your drafted novel (up to 80,000 words) to help you prioritize goals and next steps.
  • A 60-minute private consultation with your reader to discuss feedback, revisions, and next steps.
  • Connection opportunities with fellow writers.
  • And an in-person opportunity to meet with your mentor and fellow writers.

Tentative Lectures and Presentations include:

  • World Building & Setting
  • Non-Western Story Structures
  • Character + Non-Romantic Relationships
  • Internal and External Arcs
  • Revision Strategies and Goal Setting
  • Giving & Receiving Feedback
  • Centering Muslim Voices in Novels
  • Working with an Editor
  • Muslim Experiences in Today’s Publishing Industry

Please note:

  • If accepted to the program, your full novel draft is due between January 16 – February 13. We cannot accept late submissions as reading will take place before and after Ramadan.

Feedback Expected

  • You will be thoughtfully paired with a faculty reader who will offer written insights and questions about your drafted novel (up to 80,000 words), and help you prioritize goals. You will receive this written feedback along with a private consultations to discuss feedback and goals before the in-person retreat.
  • You will spend time with peers in small groups discussing and workshopping select writing assignments from the virtual classroom. You will be expected to read and engage with these short submissions. (Word count will be limited with ample time to read and prepare.)
  • You will have a 60-minute private consultation with your reader to discuss feedback, revisions, and next steps.
  • Informal feedback will occur throughout the presentations, drop-in hours, and at the retreat center.

It’s a Great Fit If…

  • You are a member of the rich and diverse Muslim community in North America. 
  • You have a complete or near-complete draft of a novel. You’ll get the most out of this workshop if you’re at this stage.  
  • Your project is one of many fiction genres, a graphic novel, a verse novel, or a multi-genre novel. If you aren’t sure if your novel fits the program specifics, please reach out and ask.
  • You would benefit from receiving multiple feedback perspectives. In addition to a whole novel review by your faculty reader, you will lead a discussion for feedback from fellow writers.
  • This opportunity comes at the right time in your creative journey. We are invested in storytellers at all stages of their creative journey. If you are not a novelist or not ready for this level of whole novel feedback, please take a look at the many other opportunities we have for you! If you aren’t sure what might be a good fit, reach out so we can discuss your needs.

How It Impacts Kids

The goal of Doris Duke Foundation’s Building Bridges Program is to “elevate U.S. Muslim stories with the goal of increasing mutual understanding and well-being among diverse populations for the benefit of building stronger, inclusive communities.” Novels for middle grade and teen readers are one place to make significant impact in a child’s life. This program has been thoughtfully designed to support you on your mission.

Testimonials from Our Community

This experience was transformational not just as an author, but as a Muslim, who grew up in the US, and has never had the chance to know what it feels like to be part of the majority.”

“Everyone on the faculty was genuinely interested in helping each student to succeed. They were great about having small or one-on-one conversations as well.”

“The Zoom sessions were such a highlight of each week! Loved all the instructors and the other students. I feel like I made some friends and took a big step forward with my novel draft.”

“The faculty were awesome. I’ve been through an MFA program in creative writing, so I know top-notch writing instructors when I see them. Learned some very valuable things about my writing at Highlights.”

See other testimonials and learn more about the Whole Novel Workshop experience.

See other testimonials and posts from our growing Muslim community.

Special Guests

DETAILS

August 8 - June 7, 2025

Free

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
Scholarships
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.