Shape Your Story: A 6-Week Novel Intensive with Author & Agent Linda Epstein

Online | Novels
Mold your middle grade or young adult novel into the story only you can tell, with senior literary agent and writer Linda Epstein.

March 16 - April 20

Online

$699

Overview

A Six-Week Online Course with Pre-recorded Lectures, and Live Discussion/Q & A/Writing Exercises

Mold your middle grade or young adult novel into the story only you can tell, with senior literary agent and writer Linda Epstein.

  • Pre-recorded lectures released on Fridays (March 3, 17, 24, 31; April 7, 14)
  • Live sessions via Zoom (with discussion/Q & A and writing exercises to complement and deepen learning from the pre-recorded lectures) on Thursdays (March 16, 23, 30; April 6, 13, 20) 
  • Written feedback on a 5-page submission from your work in progress (Submission due March 6)
  • A 1:1 20-minute consultation with Linda Epstein to discuss your submission/feedback & set goals at the beginning of course (March 27 – March 30)
  • A second 1:1 20-minute consultation with Linda Epstein to discuss progress at the end of course (April 18 – 20)
  • Optional post-course critiques are available at an additional cost (details below)
  • 18 participants max

Why This Workshop?

Get your middle grade or young adult manuscript into shape by focusing on craft and community in this online workshop.

Pre-recorded lectures kick off each week of the course, and are delivered via our virtual classroom.  The pre-recorded lectures include presentations on theme, voice, outlining, arcs, and much more. To get maximum value out of this course, you will watch each week’s pre-recorded lecture before attending the LIVE session each week.

Linda’s LIVE weekly sessions are set up to complement and deepen the learning from the weekly pre-recorded lectures. The pre-recorded lectures offer meaningful substance, and the LIVE gatherings offer time for discussion and all of your questions to be answered about the  pre-recorded material. In addition, you’ll participate in a hands-on writing exercise at each live session. When applicable, the live sessions will also include time for sharing.

Each week, expect:

  • At least one pre-recorded lecture that you should watch prior to attending the LIVE session
  • One LIVE session with Q & A related to the recording, a writing exercise, and open discussion
  • Resources in the virtual classroom

When you register for the workshop, you will be asked to submit a short survey of your writing goals and works in progress so that Linda may review them prior to your first session.

After the virtual classroom opens, you will be asked to submit 5 pages from your work-in-progress for your first 1:1 consultation (due March 6).

Feedback Expected

  • Weekly Q & A at the LIVE sessions to discuss questions related to recorded lectures.
  • Weekly sharing and discussions at LIVE sessions, with writing exercises.
  • Written feedback on a 5-page submission (due March 6) before the first LIVE session.
  •  Two 1:1, 20-minute consultations with Linda Epstein: one to discuss submission/feedback & set goals at the beginning of the course (March 27-30), and one to discuss progress at the end of course (April 18 – 20).
  • OPTIONAL written critiques will be available at an additional cost after the course.  Those submissions are due by April 30, and written feedback will be returned within 4 – 6 weeks.  Choose:
    • up to 10 pages of your work-in-progress ($125; pages can be from anywhere in your novel), and/or
    • your query letter ($100).

It’s a Great Fit If…

  • You’re a novelist of middle grade or young adult books looking to acquire comprehensive tools and guidance to help you craft your novel.
  • You’re pre-published, or just starting out. This program will help get you on a path to completing your first draft. Please know that having some idea of your work in progress (and ideally some pages drafted) will give you the maximum benefit in this program.
  • You’re a published novelist who wants to take your writing back to the bare bones. We all start at the beginning with each new project. This course can help you explore new and different ways of crafting your story.
  • You’d like a high level of engagement with fellow writers and faculty so that you can explore new ideas.
  • You work well in a hybrid-learning model with expectations of watching the pre-recorded lectures, and attending the LIVE writing exercises and discussions.

Tentative Agenda

All Times are Eastern Standard Time.

Pre-Workshop
  • At registration: you will submit a brief survey of your goals, and a summary of the project that you plan to work on during the course.
  • Suggested reading list to come.
  • On March 3: you will be invited to join the virtual classroom where you will find the Highlights Foundation Community Standards, your course syllabus, a welcome video from Linda Epstein, and submission instructions.
  • On or before March 6: 5-page submissions are due (you’ll have access to the instructions when the virtual classroom opens on March 3)
Week 1: Thursday, March 16, 7-8pm

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Watch welcome videos from Linda Epstein (How This Class is Structured & Responsible Representation in Children’s Books)
  • Sign up for your Week 3 1:1 consultation
  • Preview Highlights Foundation Community Standards
  • Familiarize yourself with the discussion board

Thursday, March 16 at 7 – 8:00pm Eastern: LIVE session via Zoom

  • Introductions
  • Writing exercise
  • Confirm 1:1 meetings
  • Open Q & A for Week One Videos
Week 2: Thursday, March 23, 7-8pm

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Lectures released on Friday, March 17 by 9am Eastern
  • Watch this week’s lectures (Outlines & Narrative Arcs)
  • Review this week’s handouts (7-point plot structure, 3-act structure, Save the Cat beat sheet, and The Hero’s Journey)
  • Complete this week’s writing assignment (posted via the Canvas discussion board)

Thursday, March 23 at 7 – 8:00pm Eastern: LIVE session via Zoom

  • Open Q & A for Week Two Videos
  • Writing Exercise: Story Arc and Story Outline
  • Sharing from exercise
Week 3: Thursday, March 30, 7-8pm

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Lectures released on Friday, March 24 by 9am Eastern
  • Watch this week’s lecture (Character Development)
  • Complete this week’s writing assignment (posted via the Canvas discussion board)
  • Bonus content: recording of Linda’s backstory meditation exercise

Thursday, March 30 at 7 – 8:00pm Eastern: LIVE session via Zoom

  • Open Q & A for Week Three Videos
  • Writing Exercise: Character Development
  • Sharing from exercise

March 27 – 30: Consultations with Linda

1:1 consultations will be scheduled with Linda at mutually convenient times (you will have signed up for them during Week 1 in the virtual classroom). These will be 20 minute sessions to discuss your submission and set goals for the course.

Week 4: Thursday, April 6, 7-8pm
  • Lectures released on Friday, March 31 by 9am Eastern
  • Watch this week’s lectures (World Building & Setting)
  • Complete this week’s writing assignment (posted via the Canvas discussion board)

Thursday, April 6 at 7 – 8:00pm Eastern: LIVE session via Zoom

  • Open Q & A for Week Four Videos
  • Writing Exercise: World Building & Setting
  • Sharing from exercise
Week 5: Thursday, April 13, 7-8pm

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Lectures released on Friday, April 7 by 9am Eastern
  • Watch this week’s lectures (Voice & Dialogue)
  • View the PowerPoint: Voice and Writing in MG & YA
  • Complete this week’s writing assignment (posted via the Canvas discussion board)

Thursday, April 13 at 7 – 8:00pm Eastern: LIVE session via Zoom

  • Open Q & A for Week Five Videos
  • Writing Exercise: Voice & Dialogue
  • Sharing from exercise
  • What to bring to next week’s live session
Week 6: Thursday, April 20, 7-8pm

In the Virtual Classroom:

  • Lectures released on Friday, April 14 by 9am Eastern
  • Watch this week’s lecture (The Importance of Genre Fiction for Children & Teens)
  • Bonus content: Everything You Need to Know About Query Letters
  • Complete this week’s writing assignment (posted via the Canvas discussion board)
  • Independently prepare for sharing in this week’s LIVE session
  • Sign up for the end of course consultation

Thursday, April 20 at 7 – 8:00pm Eastern: LIVE session via Zoom

  • Open Q & A for Week Six Video
  • Open reading for participants
  • Overview of optional critique opportunities: query letters & manuscript pages

April 18-20: Consultations with Linda

1:1 consultations will be scheduled with Linda at mutually convenient times (you will sign up for these in the virtual classroom). These will be 20 minute sessions to discuss your progress in the course.

Post-Course Critique Opportunity (At an Additional Cost)

OPTIONAL written critiques will be available at an additional cost.  These submissions are due by April 30, and written feedback will be returned within 4 – 6 weeks.  Choose:

  • up to 10 pages of your work-in-progress ($125; pages can be from anywhere in your novel), and/or
  • your query letter ($100).
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Commitment Required for the Best Experience

To get the most out of this six-week course, you should watch the weekly recorded lectures, attend the LIVE sessions with your questions, and participate in the writing exercises. You’ll have access to the pre-recorded lectures, and the recordings from the LIVE sessions through May 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.

How It Impacts Kids

The story only you can tell can make a big impact on a child or young adult’s life. This workshop helps you take steps toward shaping it into the best novel it can be.

Testimonials from Our Community

“Linda was generous, as well as setting clear boundaries. She expressed her intent for the workshop and had clearly been very thoughtful and deliberate in her design. She was warm, funny, inclusive and prepared. Really excellent.”

“Linda Epstein was fabulous. She really created an inclusive and warm atmosphere, while always also focusing on professionalism. She is eloquent and insightful and open minded.”

Meet the Faculty

DETAILS

March 16 - April 20

$699

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.

Visiting Our Campus

Our campus (The Barn at Boyds Mills) is tucked away in the foothills of the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.  It's a few hours from both New York City and Philadelphia, but worlds away from everyday life.

Line drawing of the Barn at Boyds Mills

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