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

In-Person | Novels
This intensive 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.

Overview

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

This intensive 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 August 22 (with final notifications on or before August 29)
  • Optional online pre-retreat activities (via Zoom): September 14, 28, & October 12
  • Complete manuscript submissions due by September 21
  • Feedback letters delivered to writers by October 30
  • 45-minute, 1:1 Private Zoom Consultation prior to the retreat: Scheduled at a mutually convenient time, October 31 – November 4
  • 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 Sunday, November 5
    • Ends with lunch at 1:00pm Eastern on Friday, November 10
    • 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 (September 21).

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 August 22. There is no fee to apply.

You will be notified of your acceptance status no later than August 29, 2023, 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.)

The cost of the full course (including retreat + pre-retreat zooms, feedback letter, 1:1 consultations, lectures, 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.

“Brain Trust” peer groups 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.

  • The Whole Novel Workshop: An In-Person Retreat for Novelists (November) 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 September 21.

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 October 30 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 September 21, 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.

Detailed Agenda and Important Dates

All Times are Eastern Standard Time.

Important Dates (Pre-Workshop)
Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, starting immediately through August 22.

You will be notified of your acceptance status no later than August 29, 2023, 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.)

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

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)

Whole Novel Submission Deadline: A detailed cover letter (including questions for your faculty reader) and full novel draft (up to 80,000 words) are due no later than September 21

Pre-Workshop Zooms and Consultation
  • Optional online preparatory and community building activities (via live Zoom Office Hours):
    • September 14, 8pm Eastern (First Line Introductions & Details about Submissions)
    • September 28, 8pm Eastern (“Brain Trust” Overview & Scheduling Your Pre-retreat 1:1)
    • October 12, 8pm Eastern (Preparing for the retreat & Your 1:1 Meetings)
  • Editorial letters from faculty readers will be sent for your review by October 30th.
  • With a virtual 1:1 consultation scheduled some time between October 31 – November 4, 2023
Retreat Day 1: Sunday, November 5
  • 3pm – 5pm Eastern: Arrival and check in
  • 5:30pm: Appetizers, followed by Dinner
  • After dinner: Welcome, Introductions, & Opening Session with Sarah Aronson
Retreat Day 2: Monday, November 6
Morning

  • Breakfast
  • Writing Prompt
  • Brain Trust Sessions

Afternoon

  • Lunch
  • Writing & Retreat time

Evening

  • Appetizers & Dinner
  • Faculty presentation
  • Optional community activities
Retreat Day 3: Tuesday, November 7
Morning

  • Breakfast
  • Writing Prompt
  • Brain Trust Sessions

Afternoon

  • Lunch
  • Writing & Retreat time

Evening

  • Appetizers & Dinner
  • Faculty presentation
  • Optional book discussion
Retreat Day 4: Wednesday, November 8
Morning

  • Breakfast
  • Writing Prompt
  • Brain Trust Sessions

Afternoon

  • Lunch
  • Writing & Retreat time

Evening

  • Appetizers & Dinner
  • Faculty presentation
  • Fireside discussion
Retreat Day 5: Thursday, November 9
Morning

  • Breakfast
  • Writing Prompt
  • Writing & Retreat time

Afternoon

  • Lunch
  • Final meeting with Faculty Reader

Evening

  • Appetizers & Dinner
  • Open Mic/ Sharing
Retreat Day 6: Friday, November 10
  • Morning
    • Breakfast
    • Writing Prompt
    • Writing, Packing, & Retreat time
    • Publishing and Submission Panel

    Afternoon

    • Lunch
    • Farewells

Note: Presentations and faculty-led activities will be updated as the retreat comes closer.

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Commitment Required for the Best Experience

Deadlines and session dates are listed above, throughout the description.

During the in-person event at our Retreat Center, you’ll have a chance to step away from everyday life to experience the workshop. This program has a good amount of independent time so you have space for your personal needs. While we encourage participation in all group events, we know that as an adult learner you can decide if you need more time to yourself. Please let someone from our staff or faculty know if you plan to step away from group activities.

The Highlights Foundation strives for a safe and inclusive environment. You will have access to our code of conduct prior to the workshop where we ask for your respectful engagement with fellow creatives, including our faculty and staff.

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.”

DETAILS

November 5 - November 10

$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.

Pay in full, or secure your spot with a deposit (unless otherwise noted).

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. Free car service is available from the local airport, train, and bus station, or you can park on site. You’ll receive more information about logistics after you register.

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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