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Master Class in Writing Nonfiction for Children & Young Adults 2018 | July 15 – July 19, 2018

Work with our talented group of mentors to explore all facets of factual writing.

"The faculty was outstanding in every regard. Their insight, kindness, generosity, approachability, and availability was beyond anything I’ve ever experienced at a writing conference."

Nonfiction matters! Publishers crave it. Teachers and librarians need it. Nonfiction connects our children to the world. Stories about real people, real places, and really interesting world events are more important now than ever.

Our master class explores nonfiction from many angles: the editorial, the business, and, most importantly, the art of telling true stories. Work with our talented group of mentors to explore factual writing through a range of topics, including nonfiction voice, biography, memoir, nature writing, science writing, and narrative nonfiction. Your mentor will help guide you in your revisions or explore story ideas during daily one-on-one sessions.

Hands-on Breakout Sessions for 2018:
Carole Boston Weatherford: Questions Are More Important than Answers
Larry Dane Brimner: Beginnings: How to Set the Trap That Will Entice Young Readers
Rich Wallace and Sandra Neil Wallace: Mining Personal Experiences to Enliven Nonfiction
Emma Otheguy: World Building in History: Identifying Sources, Reading Against the Grain, and Finding the Heart of the Moment
Amanda Shih: What Are Acquiring Editors Looking For?
Jan Cheripko A History of Writing History: What Works, What Doesn’t, What Might, and Why?
Peter P. Jacobi People Like to Read About Other People, and Young Readers Definitely Are People, Your Best: The Art of Biography, Short Form and Long

Keynote sessions
In addition to the hands-on breakout sessions, he faculty and guests will be leading daily workshop sessions like these:

  • Understanding What Readers Want
  • Writing Inspiration: Using Mentor Texts
  • The Art of Biography, Short Form and Long
  • Secrets to Breaking into Print
  • The Extreme Sport of Research
  • The Art and Craft of Narrative Nonfiction
  • Using Investigative Journalism to Research Your Story
  • Exploring Photography and Visual Design

Attendees will submit a picture book manuscript, or the first chapter of a longer piece of nonfiction (2,000 words max), or a book or magazine proposal. (Note: proposals must include sample writing.)

On day one of the workshop, I knew I had made the right decision. With insights from expert presenters, incredible feedback from a dedicated mentor, inspiration from other attendees, and just enough time to write and reflect, I came out of the workshop with not only new insights into how to polish my current manuscripts, but also a new picture book idea and first draft. Read more about attendee Erica Swallow’s experience at the 2017 Master Class in Writing Nonfiction.

Some faculty interviews from around the web:

Nonfiction faculty book covers

Preliminary schedule:
Day 1
Afternoon
Arrival and check in

Evening
Appetizers & Dinner
After Dinner: Faculty Introductions and Welcome, Jan Cheripko

Day 2
Morning
Keynote: Peter Jacobi
One-to-one sessions with mentors

Afternoon
Lunch
Hands-on Session #1 (select one)
Beginnings: How to Set the Trap that will Entice Young Readers, Larry Dane Brimner
Questions are More Important Than Answers, Carole Boston Weatherford

Hands-on Session #2 (select one)
World Building in History: Identifying Sources, Reading against the Grain, and Finding the Heart of the Moment, E. Otheguy
A History of Writing History: What Works, What Doesn’t, What Might, and Why?, Jan Cheripko

Evening
Appetizers, Book Signings & Dinner
After Dinner: Using Investigative Journalism to Research Your Story, Rich and Sandra Wallace

Day 3
Morning
Keynote: The Promise of Premise, Carole Boston Weatherford
One-to-one sessions with mentors

Afternoon
Lunch
Hands-on Session #1 (select one)
Mining Personal Experiences to Enliven Nonfiction, Rich and Sandra Wallace
Repeat: World Building in History: Identifying Sources, Reading against the Grain, and Finding the Heart of the Moment, Emma Otheguy

Hands-on Session #2 (select one)
People Like to Read About Other People, and Young Readers Definitely Are People, Your Best: The Art of Biography, Short Form and Long, Peter Jacobi
Repeat: Beginnings: How to Set the Trap that will Entice Young Readers, Larry Dane Brimner
Repeat: A History of Writing History: What Works, What Doesn’t, What Might, and Why?, Jan Cheripko

Evening
Appetizers, Book Signings & Dinner
After Dinner: Q/A with Amanda Shih, editor, Scholastic

Day 4
Morning
Keynote: Writing Nonfiction When Truth is Questioned: Childhood Reading & Real-World Change: Emma Otheguy
One-to-one sessions with mentors

Afternoon
Lunch
Hands-on Session #1 (select one)
Repeat: People Like to Read About Other People, and Young Readers Definitely Are People, Your Best: The Art of Biography, Short Form and Long, Peter Jacobi
Repeat: Mining Personal Experiences to Enliven Nonfiction, Rich and Sandra Wallace
Repeat: Questions are More Important Than Answers, Carole Boston Weatherford

Photo sources: a brief overview with Larry Dane Brimner

Evening
Depart for Fox Hill Farm
Picnic at Fox Hill Farm

Day 5
Morning
Keynote: Reflections on a Life in Nonfiction, Larry Dane Brimner
Faculty Q/A and closing comments

Afternoon
Lunch & farewells
Optional tour of Highlights for Children and Boyds Mills Press

Faculty & Special Guests

"Master Class in Nonfiction was taught by the best professionals in the field, who are committed to their craft and genuinely care about teaching and sharing their expertise. The curriculum was very well structured. The one-on-one meetings were tailored to fit individual student needs. The class size was small and intimate. The Highlights staff is always welcoming, friendly and supportive. Overall, I learned a lot and continue to benefit from the knowledge I gained at the workshop. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in learning how to write nonfiction from practicing professionals in the industry."—Mindy Yuksel, 2017 attendee