Revision Retreat 2019

About This Event


All writers need to revise, wherever they are on their journey: this workshop will show you how and give you time to get started doing it.

Have you completed a rough draft, know that it has problems, but don’t know what to do next? We’ll help you find those “big picture” problems and plan what to do about them.

Have you fixed the big problems in your manuscript, and want to get it ready to go out? We’ll show you techniques you can use to polish it.

Are you stuck somewhere in the middle and don’t know what do to next? We’ll help you figure out where you are, find a new approach or create new material, and get back on the road.

Do you want to develop a deeper understanding of the revision process, and how you can get feedback from others? We will take you through it from start to finish.

Whether you’re writing picture books, graphic novels, poetry, nonfiction, or novels, you’ll benefit from developing strong revision strategies. Not convinced? See our Top 10 Reasons You Need to Revise Your Manuscript.

What You’ll Learn

Editors Eileen Robinson and Harold Underdown have been working with writers on revision for many years, both as independent editors and through their Kid’s Book Revisions partnership. From that experience, they bring tested techniques for self-editing and revising, help students try them out, and give them time to use them to make their manuscripts stronger.

Mornings in the revision retreat are dedicated to learning revision techniques and afternoons to optional critique groups, individual meetings, and writing time. Participants will work on their rough or finished draft of a novel, picture book, graphic novel or narrative nonfiction.

Participants will:

Try out a variety of techniques for self-editing, from big picture revision down to copy-editing alternatives

Explore ways to gain objectivity and more focused responses to manuscripts

Learn how editors respond to manuscripts and use that approach on their own

Discover improvisational and creative techniques to take manuscripts new places

Learn how to use critique groups and take part in model critique groups, if interested

Contribute to group discussions and share favorite techniques

Meet with an editor for individual consultations

Who Should Attend

Someone who is working on a manuscript, has completed a draft of a manuscript, or is planning a manuscript for children in narrative form (picture book, novel, nonfiction, fiction) and wants help with the revision process.

Specifically, you should attend if:

You’ve completed a rough draft and want to take the next step.

You’re ready to clean up the manuscript for submission.

You just want to learn more about different revision techniques.

If you have taken one of these other workshops, you may find this course of special interest:

Everything You Need To Know About Children’s Book Publishing: A Crash Course

PB&J: Picture Books & All That Jazz

Summer Camp: A Week of Creative Mentorship

Master Class in Writing Nonfiction

Your Guide to Graphic Novels

The Ins and Outs of a Picture Book and Its Many Forms

Novel Beginnings: Building Strong Foundations for Your Novel and Your Career

Writing for All Young Readers: Board Books through MG Series

Previous attendees of the Revision Retreat are welcome to return with their next project!


Day 1

Appetizers & Dinner.

After dinner: getting acquainted and sharing of “touchstone” books, schedule review.

Day 2


Two Sides of the Reading Coin: Literary Analysis and Reader Response.

Getting Feedback from Others: Using Critique Groups and Beta Readers.


Individual appointments and goal-setting with Eileen and Harold or individual writing time.

Groups and beta reader pairs may choose to meet and give each other feedback.

A walk before dinner!


Appetizers & dinner.

After dinner: Writing and recovery time (or groups and beta readers if you have the energy!)

Day 3


“Big Picture” methods: finding objectivity or responsiveness; plot, character, setting; checklists, outlining,

visual breakdowns and more.

Trying out “Big Picture” methods and discussion.


Writing time!

Groups and beta reader pairs may choose to meet and give each other feedback.

Eileen and Harold are available for impromptu consultations or to sit in on groups as needed.

A walk before dinner!


Appetizers & dinner.

After dinner: Writing and recovery time (or groups and beta readers if you have the energy!)

Day 4


“Tight Focus” methods: polishing and tweaking: language and word choice; line and copy-editing your own writing.

Falling Up: Stretch Your Imagination–improvisation and other techniques to generate new material.


Individual appointments and post-retreat planning with Eileen and Harold, or individual writing time.

Groups and beta reader pairs may choose to meet and give each other feedback.

A walk before dinner!


Appetizers & dinner.

After dinner: Writing and recovery time (or groups and beta readers if you have the energy!)

Day 5


General wrap-up session, sharing of plans and goals; final creativity exercise.

Eileen and Harold chat about the publishing business and answer your questions.


Lunch and farewell.

Optional tour of Highlights for Children and Boyds Mills Press.


Kid’s Book Revisions website

Links to books and websites related specifically to revision. Learn more.

Using a Revision Grid to Break Down Your Story Into Elements

By Harold Underdown

It can help to look at your story in a fresh way, and if you don’t have a critique group at hand, it can be very useful to put your story in a different form, which can reveal problems that may not be apparent when you just read over the manuscript. One technique that we have found very useful, and which we teach at our Revision Retreat and in online workshops, is the revision grid. Read more.

Top 10 Reasons You Need to Revise Your Manuscript

by Harold Underdown & Eileen Robinson

Why revise your manuscript? Good writers get their manuscript right the first time, don’t they? Not in our experience! Here are some of the reasons you might need to revise your manuscript. Read more.

As Simple As Possible: Three Ways To Tighten Your Prose, by Chris Tebbetts

One of my guiding principles echoes the famous Einstein quote, that “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” For me, that means keeping my prose as clean and focused as I can, while also making sure that I don’t overdo it with the economy. Read more.

Tools and Tips on Character Revision, by Harold Underdown & Eileen Robinson

Want to create characters that step off the page? Here are some cool tools and tips you can play with to explore the many sides of your character. Cool Tool #1: Secondary Characters are People Too. Read more.

Who, What, Where, and Usually Why: Revising Scenes, by Sage Blackwood

When I draft and revise my novels, I divide them into scenes. A scene is a capsule of story. It’s usually one sequence of action, in one setting, in one moment of time. When time and place have changed, that’s a new scene. Here are some things I look for when revising a scene. Read more.

Seeing Your Manuscript by Listening

by Harold Underdown & Eileen Robinson

One of the challenges all writers face is seeing a manuscript clearly when tinkering or polishing, instead of seeing what you believe is there but may not be. Reading a manuscript over and over often does not help, so we recommend getting a new perspective by listening. Read more.

Shrink Your Manuscript, by Darcy Pattison

Writing a great scene is easy. A novel, however, adds layer after layer of complexity until it’s hard to keep everything straight. What novelists need is a simple way to take the abstract and make it visual. Writing teacher Darcy Pattison uses the “shrunken manuscript” technique to visualize a novel’s narrative arc, the emotional journey and much more. Read more.

How to Start Revising That First Draft, by Harold Underdown

The first draft of your manuscript is done! What next? Most writers know that it’s not really done, and that in fact they need to revise. But where to start? How to start? Don’t ask yourself to do the impossible. Very few people can start revising a manuscript immediately after finishing it. So first, let it sit. Read more.

The DIY Home Guide to Repair for Your Story, by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

our rough draft is your “get words on the page” stage. It’s not a first draft. You won’t know what your book is about until you have written your story from beginning to end. So write it through. Trust that your ending will inform your beginning. Once you’ve written it through, you will be ready for a true first draft. Read more.


“Harold and Eileen had so much wisdom and resources to share. Their presentations were informative and engaging. The prompts and other writing and reviewing activities encouraged us to think out of the box and also meet our fellow conference-goers. My idea of my own work radically changed a few times! I love that I was presented with new perspectives on how to see my writing. I was happy to receive 2 beautiful books to help me in revision, and I was very glad to talk to Ellen Cormier and Cherie Matthews and hear what they had to say about the industry.”

“Harold and Eileen were very knowledgeable and approachable. They were always willing to answer questions and give feedback as well as to spend time getting to know us. They gave helpful suggestions and the mentoring experience showed me what I needed to work on and what steps to take to do so. They did a great job!”

“The revisions retreat was really great. I have a number of solid and helpful revision tool takeaways, including some really strong, revised pieces. I met with my agent this morning, and he was impressed with where we got things and came up with a new submissions list.”

Cancellation Policy

100% deposit refund for cancellation 30+ days before event.
50% deposit refund for cancellation 15-29 days before event.
0% deposit refund for cancellation 0-14 days before event.
The remaining balance (total price minus deposit) is due upon arrival.
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