Picture Book Plotting from A to Z: A 5-Week Online Course for Writers

Online | Picture Books
Are you ready to do a deep, deep dive into picture book structure? If A is for ARC, and Z is for ZILLIONS, just imagine all of the learning that happens in between! Get ready to read, write, and WORK on all things Picture Book Plotting, from A to Z.

July 18 - August 15

Online

$499

Overview

An Online Course with Pre-recorded & Written Lectures, Writing Exercises, and Live Discussions with Q&A

Are you ready to do a deep, deep dive into picture book structure? This online course with Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen features pre-recorded and/or written lectures, along with assignments for each letter of the “Picture Book Alphabet,” plus weekly LIVE Zoom sessions for all of your course related questions and discussion with Sudipta. In addition you will have the chance to workshop one of your picture book manuscripts during the final meeting.

  • Pre-recorded lectures released on Fridays before the next live class
  • Live sessions via Zoom (with discussion and Q & A) on Thursdays (July 18, 25, and August 1, 8, 15) from 7:30pm – 8:30pm Eastern
  • You will have access to the materials (including recordings) until September 30, 2024
  • An optional post-course consultation is available with Sudipta at an additional cost (details below)
  • 25 participants max

Why This Workshop?

Are you ready to do a deep, deep dive into picture book structure? If A is for ARC, and Z is for ZILLIONS, just imagine all of the learning that happens in between!

Get ready to read, write, and WORK on all things Picture Book Plotting, from A to Z.

This online course with Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen features pre-recorded and/or written lectures, plus assignments for each letter of the “Picture Book Alphabet,” with weekly LIVE Zoom sessions for all of your course-related questions. There will be check-ins and sharing of works-in-progress in the virtual classroom, along with assignments. In addition there will be small group workshopping of one picture book draft during the final week.

In this course, you will explore every aspect of picture book plotting, including:

  • Narrative arc: beginnings, middles, endings
  • Components: character, theme, setting, word play, humor, dialogue, description
  • Illustration and page turns
  • Repetition and word play

In addition, you will:

  • Read lessons (Most written, with some pre-recorded video)
  • Complete assignments
  • Learn about writing query letters and pitching your picture book
  • Analyze mentor text sets
  • Participate in weekly LIVE Zoom Q & A sessions

This is primarily a self-paced program, with participant engagement happening through weekly Zoom sessions for questions and reflections related to the pre-recorded and written resources.

Feedback Expected

  • Weekly Q & A at the LIVE sessions to discuss questions related to written and recorded lectures.
  • Weekly sharing and discussions in the virtual classroom.
  • Small group workshopping of one picture book draft during one the final live session.
  • OPTIONAL feedback will be available at an additional cost post-course.  After submitting your picture book manuscript, a private session will be scheduled via Zoom to review ideas, suggestions, and next steps. The cost for this optional feedback is $125, and sessions will be scheduled within 4-6 weeks of submission.

It’s a Great Fit If…

  • You want to write picture books. This in-depth course will ensure that you have a thorough understanding of how to plot a compelling picture book.
  • You have written a picture book(s), but aren’t sure it’s ready to submit. Making time for this course means you will learn how to revise and strengthen your story.
  • You’ve written a story for children but aren’t sure where it might fit on the shelf. This course will give you a deep understanding, including mentor texts of past and current picture books, and how they differ from other writing for children.
  • You work well in a hybrid-learning model with expectations of engaging in all of the course content (including pre-recorded videos and written lectures), and attending the LIVE discussions to ask questions and share examples.

Do I need to have a picture book in progress to take this course? Not at all! If you are in the planning/idea stages, you will still gain valuable insight from this course. Please note that submissions and writing exercises can be adapted to fit your needs.

Tentative Agenda

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

Pre-Workshop

  • At registration: you will submit a brief survey of your goals, and a summary of where you are on your picture book journey.
  • On July 11, you will be invited to join the virtual classroom where you will find the Highlights Foundation Community Standards, your course syllabus, and your first set of pre-recorded and written lectures.
Week 1
In the Virtual Classroom:

Week One

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Watch welcome video and read lectures on: narrative arc, beginnings & endings, urgency and tension, character
  • Work on your first writing assignments
  • Preview Highlights Foundation Community Standards
  • Familiarize yourself with the discussion board

Thursday, July 18 at 7:30 – 8:30pm Eastern: LIVE session via Zoom

  • Introductions
  • Review assignments
  • Open Q & A for Week One Resources
Week 2
Week Two

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Content released on Friday, July 19 by 9am Eastern
  • Watch this week’s videos and read lectures: dialogue, description, foreshadowing, character problem-solving, hooking the reader, marketing and pitching, humor
  • Work on this week’s writing assignments

Thursday, July 25 at 7:30 – 8:30pm Eastern: LIVE session via Zoom

  • Open Q & A for Week Two Resources
  • Sharing from exercise
Week 3
Week Three

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Content released on Friday, July 26 by 9am Eastern
  • Watch this week’s videos and read lectures: action, pacing, layout, outlining, analyzing mentor texts, variations on plot constructions
  • Work on this week’s writing assignments

Thursday, August 1 at 7:30 – 8:30pm Eastern: LIVE session via Zoom

  • Open Q & A for Week Two Resources
  • Sharing from exercise
Week 4
Week Four

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Content released on Friday, August 2 by 9am Eastern
  • Watch this week’s videos and read lectures: writing good query letters, theme, settings, illustration, using repetition
  • Work on this week’s writing assignments

Thursday, August 8 at 7:30 – 8:30pm Eastern: LIVE session via Zoom

  • Open Q & A for Week Three Resources
  • Sharing from exercise
  • Discuss plans for August 15th live session (small group workshopping)
Week 5
In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Please post your submission for small group discussions by August 13
  • There is no expectation that you will read or respond to submissions at this time; please hold comments until the discussion during our live session.

Thursday, August 15 at 7:30 – 8:30pm Eastern: LIVE session via Zoom

  • Small Group Workshopping of one picture book draft (or your picture book outline, if that is what you have completed). You will be able to Share Screen.
    • Depending on the size of the group, we may extend the time of this last session to accommodate discussions with each writer.
    • If you decide not to submit your story, that’s okay! We still encourage you to join the discussion and work with this picture book community.
Post-Course Critique Opportunity (At an Additional Cost)
OPTIONAL feedback will be available at an additional cost post-course.  After submitting your picture book manuscript, a private session will be scheduled via Zoom to review ideas, suggestions, and next steps. The cost for this optional feedback is $125, and sessions will be scheduled within 4-6 weeks of submission. We will discuss this opportunity the final week of the course.
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Commitment Required for the Best Experience

To get the most out of this online course, you should review the weekly recorded lectures and read the written lectures, attend the LIVE sessions with your questions, and complete the writing exercises. You’ll have access to all of the resources, and the recordings from the LIVE Q & A sessions through September 30, 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.

How It Impacts Kids

Picture books are the first entry point for getting children engaged in story, inviting kids to immerse themselves in the stories they hear–and later, the ones they read. This course will help you learn the components of a strong picture book.

Testimonials from Our Community

“Sudipta provided a wealth of information in the coursework and was very generous with her time during office hours. She knows her stuff!”

“Sudipta is a wonderful teacher in person but the online lessons were also great – so much material laid out in a very accessible way. It is clear she put a lot of work and thought into the class.”

“Being able to ask questions any time was great; the Thursday night sessions were very informative.”

“I felt the facilitator and Sudipta did a great job in making us feel we were a mini family where we could learn and share freely.”

Books by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

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Meet the Faculty

DETAILS

July 18 - August 15

$499

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.