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Writing Fiction For Children & Young Adults

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Start: 18th October 2016 - 6:00pm

Finish: 22nd November 2016 - 8:30pm


Are you the next leading voice in children’s literature? Reserve your place on this specially curated course to secure six weeks of intensive, dedicated sessions with best-selling writers for children & YA and industry experts, plus a critique of up to 7,500 words of your writing from one of our course tutors.

Course Features

- 15 hours of advice from a combination of leading authors and publishing industry professionals

- Critique of up to 7,500 words of your manuscript from one of the course tutors

- Sessions punctuated by takeaway practical exercises you can apply to your own writing

- Exclusive discounts on W&A products

- Opportunity to meet like-minded authors

- One copy of the 2017 edition of the Children’s Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook (RRP £20)

Course Content

Week 1: 6–8.30 pm, Tuesday 18th October

Getting going: Understanding your audience… and hooking them

Editor of the Yearbook and your course convenor, Alysoun Owen, introduces this first session by welcoming Sarah Crossan who will offer hints and tips on how to make sure your readers are hooked from the very first page.

Week 2: 6–8.30 pm, Tuesday 25th October

Structure: Making sure there’s method in the madness!

Brilliant ideas can all fall by the wayside without clear direction from the outset. Alysoun Owen introduces Sarah Mussi for a session dedicated to harnessing your ideas, and the liberating – not restrictive – nature of a well-structured plot outline.

Week 3: 6–8.30 pm, Tuesday 1st November

Character: From voices in your head to people on the page

In a session providing essential advice on both character development and dialogue, Alysoun will introduce novelists Geraldine McCaughrean and Sarah Lean, who will each give a presentation offering hints and tips on how to develop a convincing cast of characters and bring them to life through well-crafted dialogue.

Week 4: 6–8.30 pm, Tuesday 8th November

World-building: Setting the rules … so your characters can break them

How do you create an authentic fictional world? How can you create the sort of tension for your protagonist that keeps your readers turning pages? Alysoun Owen introduces author Jon Mayhew for a session on making sure you create the perfect world for your story. This session will also offer exercises on considering narrative point of view: is your world's story more powerfully told in 1st or 3rd person?

Week 5: 6–8.30pm, Tuesday 15th November

Editing: Is your story as good as it can be?

Becoming a better self-editor is a vital skill, and one that becomes even more important as you begin considering whether to send your manuscript out to literary agents or to self-publish. The penultimate session in this short course sees Alysoun Owen first introduce Sibéal Pounder to offer advice on the ways in which you approach the often difficult process of honing your story, culling characters and spotting grammatical errors and inconsistencies; then welcomes Bloomsbury Children's Fiction Editorial Director Ellen Holgate to offer insight into the author-editor relationship. Please arrive with red pens at the ready!  

Week 6: 6–8.30pm, Tuesday 22nd November

Next Steps: Insight into the publishing process

This final session provides you with the opportunity to hear from literary agents Julia Churchill and Jenny Savill, who will offer essential hints and tips on how to submit your manuscript to literary agents.

This session will be followed by networking drinks and may run slightly later than 8.30 pm.

NOTE: Picture books will not be covered as part of this short course. We are looking to run a masterclass dedicated to picture books in early 2017.

A note from the Editor

"As an editor, reader and parent, I am passionate that the very best writing for children gets published."

Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook and Children’s Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook editor, Alysoun Owen, on the decision to curate a short course tailor-made for authors of children’s narrative fiction. Read here

Event Details

Beginning Tuesday 18th October, each of the six sessions take place at Bloomsbury Publishing, 50 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3DP. They will start at 6.00pm prompt and finish at 8.30pm, the last session taking place on 29th November, 2016.

Your place on the course is confirmed upon payment, which can be made by clicking on the ‘Apply now’ buttons at the top or bottom of this page, or by calling the W&A Team on 0207 631 5985 to book over the phone.

Price inclusive of standard VAT.

Speaker Details

Sarah Crossan is a best-selling author of children's and YA fiction. Her latest novel One is the winner of the Carnegie Medal 2016, the YA Prize 2016 and the CBI Book of the Year Award. Her previous novels are Apples & Rain, The Weight of Water, Breathe and Resist. Follow Sarah on Twitter

Sarah Mussi is a multi-award winning author of children’s and YA fiction. Her first novel The Door of No Return won the Glen Dimplex & Irish Writers’ Children’s Book Award and was shortlisted for the Branford Boase, amongst others. Her other novels include The Last of the Warrior Kings (shortlisted for the Lewisham Book Award), Siege, which was nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal (2014) and won the BBUKYA award for contemporary YA fiction, and Riot, which won the Lancashire Book of the Year Award 2015. Her latest novel Bomb was listed in The Guardian’s New Best Kids Books 2015 list. Visit her website here

Geraldine McCaughrean is an award-winning writer of over 160 books for children. She is a three-time recipient of the Whitbread/Costa Children's Book Award, a Carnegie Medal winner and author of the official sequel Peter Pan in Scarlet. Her work - fiction and retellings of classic tales - span all age ranges from picture books to YA and include, The Middle of Nowhere (shortlisted for the Little Rebels Childrens’ Book Awards), The Positively Last Performance (shortlisted for the UKLA Children’s Book Award) and The Death-Defying Pepper Roux (shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal). 

Sarah Lean’s bestselling debut novel was A Dog Called Homeless. Trained as a primary school teacher, she took an MA in creative writing and now writes fiction for children from 6+. Her other books include Tiger DaysThe Secret Cat , Hero and The Forever Whale. For more information, visit her website

Jon Mayhew is the author of the Mortlock and Monster Odyssey suspense and adventure series for children aged 9-11 years. The fourth Monster Odyssey title, The Venom of the Scorpion was published in January 2016. Jon is currently Writing Fellow at the Royal Literary Fund at Aberystwyth University. Visit his website here

Sibéal Pounder worked as a journalist at the Financial Times for seven years, writing the philanthropy column and researching for the How To Spend It lifestyle section before signing with Gemma Cooper of The Bent Agency and landing a book deal with Bloomsbury. She studied writing for children at the Faber Academy, learning from authors Anthony McGowan and Andy Stanton.Witch Wars was one of the best selling middle grade debuts of 2015 and has been translated into 6 languages so far. It is shortlisted for the 2016 Waterstones Children's Book Prize. Find out more on her website and follow her on Twitter here

Ellen Holgate is Editorial Director of Children's Fiction at Bloomsbury Publishing.

Julia Churchill joined A.M.Heath in 2013 as Children's Agent, after four years building up the UK side of the Greenhouse Literary Agency, and six years at the Darley Anderson Agency where she started the children's book side of the list. She represents some fabulous writers including Sarah Crossan, Sarah Lean and Joanna Nadin. She’s always on the treasure hunt for new writing talent and considers the slushpile to be the greatest place on earth. She’s looking for debut and established authors with storytelling magic, from picture book texts right up to YA fiction. Follow her on Twitter: @JuliaChurchill.

Jenny Savill is a senior literary agent at Andrew Nurnberg Associates Ltd where she represents authors of fiction and non-fiction writing for both children and adults. After gaining an MA in Mediaeval History from St Andrews University, Jenny worked in the theatre, joining  Andrew Nurnberg Associates in 2002. She has built a strong children’s and YA roster, whose authors include Sophia Bennett, Dave Cousins, Keren David, and Andy Robb. She loves quirky, life-affirming stories and and while she is not looking for high fantasy, she does like a story with a slight thread of magic running through it. She is interested in finding new voices in both commercial and literary women’s fiction, historical fiction, memoir and narrative non-fiction. Her adult fiction authors include Deborah Install and Natasha Pulley, and, on the non-fiction side, Mark Logue and Peter Conradi.

Alysoun Owen

Alysoun Owen is a publisher with over 20 years' experience as a commissioning editor and running her own publishing consultancy business. She has been the Editor of the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook and the Children's Writers' & Artists' Yearbook for four years and is a regular speaker on how to get published at literary festivals and writer events.


Writers & Artists have run a number of sold out ‘How to Write for Children’ one-day conferences over the past five years, and have recently held a successful 10-week course in conjunction with the National Academy of Writing designed for authors looking to refine their novel. Some testimonials from each of these events below: 

How To Write For Children & Young Adults Conference

'The conference offered a well-judged mix of practical advice and inspirational personal stories. The range of speakers – from literary agents, to publishers, to authors – meant that all aspects of the business were covered… [It] has certainly given me the tools to return to my own work not just with renewed enthusiasm but with a sharper editor's eye, too.' Becky Brewis

'I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for a wonderful and inspiring day on Saturday at the Writing for Children Conference. I spent Sunday writing up the notes I made. It was a pleasure to meet with so many other writers' who feel just as nervous as myself, apparently I'm not alone - who knew!' Shelley Wilson

'This was an extremely helpful day, thank you! It was very well organised and informative - just what we needed. I was struck by how incredibly friendly everyone attending and running the workshop was. Being creative seems to bring out the best in people!' Astrid Weber

'Excellent course with so much to think about. Can't wait to get back to my writing.' Zita O'Rourke

The Novel: Writing is Re-Writing’: 10-week course in partnership with NAW

The course exceeded all my expectations.’ E. Hall

Fantastically well prepared and terrific delivery and incisive stuff, a really helpful programme and tips and tools of the trade- the notes will be useful forever.’ Writer from the NAW Course, 2016

‘The mixture of writing, workshops and talks proved highly effective, and the workshopping of the opening parts of a novel was particularly valuable.’ Margaret D’Armenia

Very useful and beneficial- getting me back motivated to re-write the novel.’ Writer from the NAW Course, 2016