Teaching a Spring Session of My YA Novel Writing Class

mediabistroI’ve been teaching an online YA Novel Writing: Master Class with Mediabistro this winter, and I can’t even tell you how much I’ve been enjoying it. I love being a part of helping other writers polish their novels and write ahead to complete their drafts—and reading the pages every week, sometimes as they write, has been rewarding and eye-opening, both as an instructor and a writer. In fact, I’ve enjoyed leading this winter’s class so much, that I’ll be teaching a new session in the spring.

I wanted to announce here—in case any writers reading this blog are interested— that my YA Novel Writing: Master Class for spring starts in April. It’s eight weeks long and involves weekly online workshops as well as feedback from me on pages every week.

Please don’t be intimidated by the “master class” in the course title. This just means this is not a class for beginning writers who are new to writing fiction.

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions, but if there’s something you’d like to know about this class, you are welcome to email me.

Q: Do you need to have a complete novel to sign up for this class?

A: No, you don’t. You can sign up with a novel-in-progress. You can also sign up if you have a draft of your novel already written that you’d like to revise. You will be turning in up to 10 pages a week—new or revised, up to you. Some of the students in my class now have already written full drafts of their YA or middle-grade novels and are turning in pages with revision in mind. Some started the class with unfinished novels and are writing ahead, hoping to finish their first drafts. And others are beginning novels in this class and writing a new set of pages every week. It’s up to you—whatever would be the most helpful use of your eight weeks with me.

However, I would say that it would be most helpful to you as a writer to have a solid idea of what you want to be working on in this class. If you are not sure of what you want to write and are seeking a writing class to explore ideas, this wouldn’t be the class for you.

Q: How does the workshop aspect of the class work?

A: Each writer will be “workshopped”—critiqued—in our online text-based chatroom in detail two or three times in the eight weeks. This means we discuss all pages turned in by your workshop date in the online discussion. Other writers are also asked to leave written feedback for that week’s writers in the forums, so you will gain feedback from your peers in two ways.

Q: But do you read my pages every week?

A: Yes, even if you aren’t up for workshop that week, I will be reading and giving you written feedback on your pages every week.

Q: Will this class involve a lot of reading?

A: It could. The class is capped at 12 students, which means most weeks you will be reading pages from four writers and preparing to discuss their work in the online chat as well as leave them written feedback.

Q: Can I take this class from anywhere?

A: Yes, you can take this class from anywhere (and you can take it while wearing pajamas!), so long as you can access the discussions online every week. They will be at 9pm Eastern Standard Time on Wednesdays. The chatroom is text-based and easy to use.

Q: Will you be able to read and critique my whole novel in this class?

A: No, I can’t read your whole novel in this class. We’ll just have eight weeks, so I’ll be reading 80 pages. They don’t have to be in order—so long as you turn in a plot summary of anything I’ve missed. I can’t read the rest of your novel after class ends, sorry.

Q: Do I have to be writing a YA novel to take this class?

A: You can sign up if you’re writing a middle-grade novel. There are usually at least a few middle-grade writers in the class, though most of the writers in class tend to be working on YA. However, if you are writing an adult novel—even if you think it has potential to gain a teen readership—this is not the class for you.

Q: Can I take this class if I’ve never written a novel before?

A: You are welcome to sign up even if you’ve never tackled writing a novel before, but I highly recommend that you have some experience writing fiction, even if it’s not YA or middle-grade. Many of your fellow students will have taken writing courses before, and some will even have MFAs. Some will have a lot of experience writing YA and knowledge of the industry. Others are writing YA for the first time, though they’ve written fiction before. This has made for a great, wise, helpful group when it comes to workshops and feedback, and varying perspectives. But if you are a brand-new writer not used to regular writing deadlines like this, I’d suggest taking an introductory class instead. If you’ve never written fiction before, this won’t be the class for you.

Mediabistro has some wonderful courses, and they are always adding new ones. Here, take a look. For example, here’s a YA writing class taught by an editor at Alloy… and it begins in March!

Q: Do you choose the writers who get to be in the class or screen the submissions?

A: No, Mediabistro screens the applications. You’ll need a two-page writing sample and a short letter of interest, explaining why you want to take this class and what experience you have. I find out who has signed up for the class about a week before. It’s always a fun surprise! Admissions are rolling, though, so you probably shouldn’t wait till the last minute to sign up. The class is capped at 12 students.

Q: Do I have to pay the tuition up front, in full?

A: Yes, I am pretty sure you need to pay in full for the class when you’re approved to register. You can apply here through Mediabistro, and you can ask them registration/payment questions directly.

Q: But I am busy this spring… will you be teaching this class again?

A: I am not sure if I’ll be teaching this class again—right now, I have no plans to do so—but if I am, I will announce it here.

If there are any questions I haven’t answered, please feel free to ask. Or here is Mediabistro’s FAQ.


Thank you to everyone who may be considering taking this class—and thanks to those who’ve emailed with questions and interest! I can’t wait to see who signs up this spring and to dive in and start reading the novels…

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