Revising Your Novel in Verse: An Online Course

Online | Novels in Verse, Poetry
The verse novel is an art all its own—sculpted through story, and the act of revision. If you’ve done the hard work of drafting your novel in verse and are now ready to immerse yourself in revisions, we invite you to join us!

October 9 - November 20




A 3-Part Online Course

The verse novel is an art all its own—sculpted through story and the act of revision. If you’ve done the hard work of drafting your novel in verse and are now ready to immerse yourself in revisions, we invite you to join Cordelia Jensen for this three-part program. We are thrilled to welcome a special guest Charles Waters for a conversation with Cordelia on Wednesday, November 6.

  • This is an online course in three parts:
    • Part 1 is learning through presentations (both pre-recorded and live) and writing exercises;
    • Part 2 is time for independent work and revision with support in the virtual classroom;
    • Part 3 is roundtable workshopping of 10-15 poems (with booktalks and live presentations mixed in).
  • 6 live online sessions include:
    • Part One: Wednesdays, October 9th, October 16th, October 23rd at 1pm – 2:30pm Eastern
    • Part Two: Independent Revisions and classroom discussions, October 24 – November 5, 2024 (no live sessions)
    • Part Three: Wednesday, November 6th & 13 at 1pm – 2:30pm Eastern; and Wednesday, November 20 at 1pm – 2:30pm Eastern or 7pm – 8:30pm Eastern for a workshopping session
  • Optional, post-course feedback of up to 20 poems is available from Cordelia, at an additional cost.
  • 16 participants max
  • If you are unable to attend the sessions live, you will have access to the recordings within 24-hours of the live session. All materials will be available through December 31, 2024. Please plan to attend live during the day or evening session for your workshopping session on November 20.

Why This Workshop?

The verse novel is an art all its own—sculpted through story, and the act of revision. If you’ve done the hard work of drafting your novel in verse and are now ready to immerse yourself in revisions, we invite you to join us!

Part One includes pre-recorded resources illuminated by live sessions on emotional arc, theme, pacing, structure, & line-level revisionsEach live session will be paired with a writing exercise.

Part Two includes independent revision time, with virtual check-ins on our classroom discussion board, and your submission.

Part Three centers on your stories with the workshopping of 10 – 15 poems, and engaging book talks. (For a detailed schedule, please see below.)

We asked Cordelia: For the workshop, where would you expect an author to be in terms of revising their verse novel? Should they have done the whole first draft?

Cordelia: “I think it works great if they have the whole first draft, like that’s kind of the ideal, but there are definitely a handful of people who have taken it where they have like maybe 3/4 or half of the draft, but then they know what’s going to happen, or at least have an idea coming into the course and then they might change their mind.”

Feedback Expected

  • Informal feedback will be available from faculty in the virtual classroom in response to writing exercises.
  • Faculty-led workshopping of 10 – 15 poems (see detailed agenda below).
  • Optional post-course written feedback on up to 20 poems from Cordelia Jensen. (See details following the agenda.)

It’s a Great Fit If…

  • You have a completed draft of a middle grade or young adult novel in verse. A complete or nearly completed draft of your verse novel will help you get the most out of this course.
  • You need the structure of a multi-week course to make headway into your revisions. Revision can be lonely territory.  Work with fellow verse novelists to make real progress on your revision. Within the course you’ll have weekly exercises and a roundtable workshopping session.
  • You crave time with fellow verse novelists. We’ll build community online with our shared love of the form, and learn more by opening to the diversity of ideas in the group.
  • You enjoy online learning. This multi-week course relies on LIVE Zoom interaction and contributions in the virtual classroom.

Do I need to have a finished draft of my verse novel to take the workshop?
From Cordelia: “I think it works great if you have the whole first draft, like that’s kind of the ideal.  But there are definitely a handful of people who have taken it where they have maybe 3/4 or half finished.  They know what’s going to happen, or at least have an idea coming into the course, even thought they might change their mind.”

Detailed Agenda

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


You will receive a link to our virtual classroom where you can introduce yourself to fellow novelists, engage in Highlights Foundation related resources (including our Community Standards), keep up to date on the schedule, and view pre-recorded materials.

Note: If your schedule does not allow you to attend live sessions, 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.

Required reading:

  • Mascot by Charles Waters and Traci Sorell (summary provided by Penguin Random House): In Rye, Virginia, just outside Washington, DC, people work hard, kids go to school, and football is big on Friday nights. An eighth-grade English teacher creates an assignment for her class to debate whether Rye’s mascot should stay or change. Now six middle schoolers–-all with different backgrounds and beliefs–-get involved in the contentious issue that already has the suburb turned upside down with everyone choosing sides and arguments getting ugly. Told from several perspectives, readers see how each student comes to new understandings about identity, tradition, and what it means to stand up for real change.
  • Spin by Rebecca Caprara  (summary provided by Simon & Schuster): Arachne is a homely girl with no claims to divinity or fortune, ostracized by all but her family and closest friend, Celandine. Turning to her loom for solace, Arachne learns to weave, finding her voice and her strength through the craft. After a devastating loss, Arachne and Celandine flee to the city of Colophon, where Arachne’s skills are put to the test. Word of her talent spreads quickly, leading to a confrontation with the goddess Athena, who demands that Arachne repent for her insolence and pride. But Arachne will not be silenced. She challenges Athena, and a fateful weaving contest ensues, resulting in an exposé of divine misdeeds, a shocking transformation, and unexpected redemption. An ancient myth retelling into a sweeping novel in verse, unraveling the tales that frame Arachne as a villainess and deliver a timely story of long-awaited justice.
  • In the Beautiful Country by Jane Kuo (summary provided by HarperCollins): Anna can’t wait to move to the beautiful country—the Chinese name for America. Although she’s only ever known life in Taiwan, she can’t help but brag about the move to her family and friends. But the beautiful country isn’t anything like Anna pictured. Her family can only afford a cramped apartment, she’s bullied at school, and she struggles to understand a new language. On top of that, the restaurant that her parents poured their savings into is barely staying afloat. The version of America that Anna is experiencing is nothing like she imagined. How will she be able to make the beautiful country her home? This lyrical and heartfelt story, inspired by the author’s own experiences, is about resilience, courage, and the struggle to make a place for yourself in the world.

Suggested Reading:

  • Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody
  • Me (Moth) by Amber McBride
  • Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh
  • Red, White, and Whole by Rajani LaRocca
  • Skyscraping by Cordelia Jensen
  • The Way the Light Bends by Cordelia Jensen
  • Every Shiny Thing by Cordelia Jensen
Part 1: Presentations, Session 1, Wednesday, October 9
Session 1:

  • Wednesday, October 9, from 1pm – 2:30pm Eastern: Live Zoom session
    • Introductions, Faculty and Writers
    • Overview of course structure
    • Deepening Emotional Arc & Theme
    • Overview of Writing Exercise #1
Part 1: Presentations, Session 2, Wednesday, October 16
Session 2:

  • Wednesday, October 16, from 1pm – 2:30pm Eastern: Live Zoom Session
    • Pacing & Structure
    • Overview of Writing Exercise #2
    • Q & A
Part 1: Presentations, Session 3, Wednesday, October 23
Session 3:

  • Wednesday, October 23, from 1pm – 2:30pm Eastern: Live Zoom session
    • How to Approach Line-level Revision
    • Overview of Writing Exercise #3
    • Group assignments for submissions
Part 2: Independent Work, October 24-November 5
October 24 – November 5

  • Independent work on revisions
  • Faculty will be available via virtual classroom discussion board (please engage and ask questions!)
Part 2: Independent Work, Submission Due: November 5 by 12pm Eastern
Submission due: November 5 by noon Eastern

  • 10 – 15 poems (Selection of poems is up to you. Some choices: 10 – 15 poems from the beginning; 10-15 poems from where you are stuck; 3-5 poems from beginning, middle, and end; or other submission based on your needs.) You will also be asked to include questions for your readers and a 1-2 sentence pitch.
  • Submissions will be in the virtual classroom based on the group that you have been assigned.
Part 3: Workshopping & Book Talks, Session 4, Wednesday, November 6

Session 4:

  • Wednesday, November 6, from 1pm – 2:30pm Eastern: Live Zoom session
    • MASCOT Book Talk with Charles Waters and Cordelia
    • Celebrations! Submissions are in!
    • Review steps to sign up for workshopping
Part 3: Workshopping & Book Talks, Session 5, Wednesday, November 13
  • Wednesday, November 13, from 1pm – 2:30pm Eastern: Live Zoom Session
    • Plot Beats & Your Story
    • Book Talk: Spin and In the Beautiful Country
    • Q & A
Part 3: Workshopping & Book Talks, Session 6, Wednesday, November 20
  • Wednesday, November 20, from 1pm – 2:30pm Eastern OR 7 – 8:30pm Eastern (Select one Zoom session)
    • Attend your workshopping session with fellow writers to read and discuss revisions.
    • Final Q & A with Cordelia
Post-Course (Optional)
Optional post-course written feedback on up to 20 poems will be available from Cordelia Jensen.  Submissions will happen between December 1 – 15 and written feedback will be provided within 4 – 6 weeks of your submission. You may submit up to 20 pages/20 poems, plus a synopsis and cover letter. The poems may be in sequence, but do not need to be (though please note in your cover letter if they are not). Cordelia will provide written feedback on what is working and suggestions for revision. The cost is $125 for written feedback. Additional details will be available at the final workshop session on November 20.

Commitment Required for the Best Experience

  • This course is best if you engage in all sessions. If you cannot attend live, please commit to watching the recordings in sequence. You’ll have access to the recordings with closed captioning. They’re posted the day after the session.
  • Participants are encouraged to leave open/schedule blocks of time for themselves to work on exercises and reflections throughout.
  • Submission of weekly exercises is optional, but highly encouraged.
  • Submission of 10 – 15 revised poems for peer workshopping and feedback, is due by November 5, 2024.
  • You will have access to all recordings and discussions 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.

How It Impacts Kids

Verse novels can provide a powerful emotional experience for young readers. This workshop will help you revise yours so that it can shine.

Testimonials from Our Community

“Cordelia was a sensitive and smart reader of our work in progress, linking it effectively to the material under study. The class offered an interesting, intelligent and indirect way to think about my novel draft. For me it unlocked the work and allowed me to find the momentum and energy I was seeking.”

“Cordelia was an excellent teacher and shared above and beyond and made the whole class experience worthwhile and informative.”

“Cordelia shared an amazing amount of information. There is so little available on Free Verse and I was thrilled to be part of this class.”

“I came into the course with very little knowledge about actually writing a verse novel and employing an image system. I left with a world of information.”

Meet the Faculty

Special Guests


October 9 - November 20




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
Equity & Inclusion in Kidlit
Partners & Sponsors

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.