Whole Novel Workshop: An In-Person Retreat for Novelists (August)

In-Person | Novels
This intensive, transformative Whole Novel Workshop offers writers the rare opportunity to have the entire draft (up to 80,000 words) of a novel read by faculty, with detailed written feedback and two private consultations provided. Attention in an intimate setting makes this program one that guarantees significant progress in preparation for submission.

Overview

In-person 6-Day/5-Night Workshop and Retreat with a Full Novel Critique Included

This intensive, transformative Whole Novel Workshop offers writers the rare opportunity to have the entire draft (up to 80,000 words) of a novel read by faculty, with detailed written feedback and two private consultations provided. Attention in an intimate setting makes this program one that guarantees significant progress in preparation for submission. This Whole Novel Workshop is specifically designed for writers of novels for children and teens.

  • Apply on or before May 15 (with final notifications on or before May 31)
  • Optional online pre-retreat activities (via Zoom): June & July (2 evenings, dates/times TBD)
  • Complete manuscript submissions due by July 1
  • Feedback letters delivered to writers by August 10
  • 45-minute, 1:1 Private Zoom Consultation prior to the retreat: Scheduled at a mutually convenient time, August 10 – 14
  • The cost of the full course (including retreat + pre-retreat zooms, feedback letter, 1:1 consultations, lectures, and writing exercises) is $2,799.
  • The in-person workshop at our Retreat Center includes inspirational sessions and opportunities for time in the company of fellow creatives.
    • Begins with dinner 5:30pm Eastern on Wednesday, August 14
    • Ends with lunch at 11:45am Eastern on Monday, August 19
    • We include ample time to relax, retreat, and work on your revisions.
    • Lodging and meals are included at the retreat.
  • 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.

As such, you will need to have a completed draft of your novel that matches the criteria for the course by the submission due date (July 1).

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 10 – 15 pages from the manuscript you wish to workshop
  • A one-page synopsis or general outline
  • Tentative page count, workshop goals, and a short bio (including how you are connected to this project)

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, starting immediately through May 15. There is no fee to apply.

You will be notified of your acceptance status no later than May 31, 2024, and if accepted, asked to pay a $500 non-refundable deposit and set up a payment plan or pay your registration in full. (You may also use a scholarship that you have been previously awarded to attend a Whole Novel program.) Once manuscripts have been submitted in full there is a cancellation fee of $1,100. You will receive your feedback letter and one consultation with this cancellation.

The cost of the full course (including retreat- lodging, meals, and lectures, + pre-retreat zooms, feedback letter, 1:1 consultations, and writing exercises) is $2,799.

Why This Workshop?

The Whole Novel Workshop offers writers the rare opportunity to have the entire draft of a novel (up to 80,000 words) read with written feedback and two private consultations, along with an inspiring retreat at the Highlights Foundation retreat center. Attention in an intimate setting makes this program one that guarantees significant progress in preparation for submission.

You’ll move through this program alongside fellow authors who are in the thick of the creative process with you; from our experienced readers to your fellow attendees. Whether you’re working toward getting your first novel published, or working on the next (or the next!), this workshop can help you see your work in a new light.

You’ll also participate in “Brain Trust” peer groups.  These are small, carefully chosen cohorts of your fellow attendees, plus a facilitator. Your “brain trust” group members will come to the workshop having read your short submission and will have some familiarity with your work. Your “brain trust” guide will then help you bring your own questions and challenges to the group, so that they may offer you new perspectives and approaches to problem solving. The goal is to use those perspectives as you complete your revisions to bring out the best in your own story. Hear our podcast about “Brain Trusts” here.

In all, this opportunity features:

  • An editorial letter offering written insights and questions about your drafted novel (up to 80,000 words) to help you prioritize goals.
  • At least two private consultations with your reader to discuss feedback, revisions, and next steps.
  • Time to stretch creatively with presentations and prompts.
  • Small group discussions and open space to process your revision ideas.
  • Connection opportunities with fellow writers.

Please note:

  • If accepted to the program, your full novel draft is due on or before July 1.

Feedback Expected

  • You will be thoughtfully paired with a faculty reader who can offer insights and questions about your drafted novel (up to 80,000 words), and help you prioritize goals.  You will receive this written feedback by August 11 and have two private consultations (one via Zoom prior to the retreat, and one during the retreat) to discuss feedback and goals.
  • A specially crafted “brain trust” peer group will be built with your needs in mind. This unique roundtable discussion will host no more than 8 fellow writers, and will be facilitated by a caring guide who sees that each group maintains a safe atmosphere and centers your needs during the discussion.
  • Informal feedback will be offered throughout the workshop via discussions and open sharing during free creative time.

It’s a Great Fit If…

  • 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 full workshop novel submission is due by July 1, and then you’ll workshop it in earnest, readying it for submission.
  • 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 your “brain trust” guides and fellow writers.
  • You’re willing to work! This program is best for those who will dedicate time and attention to processing feedback, revising, writing exercises, and group sessions.
  • You’d appreciate some retreat time. This course has plenty of built-in time to write, draw, hike, revise, and/or rest: whatever you need.

How It Impacts Kids

Your novel can make a big impact on a child’s life. This workshop helps you take steps toward bringing it to market in a way that is authentic to your voice and your story, because that is just what your reader needs.

Testimonials from Our Community

“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 faculty were warm, inspiring, wise, encouraging, helpful, and funny. The workshops were as inspiring and as helpful as the presenters. I couldn’t have asked for more!”

“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.”

“The guest speakers were lovely, accessible and thorough with their feedback and guidance.”

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

DETAILS

August 14 - August 19

$2799

Highlights Foundation Campus

362 Boyds Mills Road
Milanville, PA 18443

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.

LOCATION

All in-person Highlights Foundation workshops and retreats (including this one) are held at our Retreat Center: The Barn at Boyds Mills.  This site was the home of the original founders of Highlights for Children Garry and Caroline Myers, and is located in the Poconos Mountains of Pennsylvania on the traditional and contemporary lands of the Lenape Nation.

All-inclusive registration includes workshop tuition, lodging, meals, beverages, and snacks. Shuttle service is included from the local airport and bus stations, or you can park on site. You’ll receive more information about logistics after you register.

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.