Writing the Unreal: The Whole Novel Workshop in Fantasy & Speculative Fiction October 2019

  • Highlights Foundation Highlights Foundation
  • Pocono Mountains Municipal, Coolbaugh Township, PA, USA
  • Oct 20 - 27, 2019 (8 days)
  • $2,499.00 - Program Price

About This Event


Designed for anyone with a complete or near-complete draft of a middle grade or young adult novel in fantasy or speculative fiction.

Do you write children’s or YA fantasy? Alternate history? Science fiction? Magical realism? Paranormal romance? Fairy tale retellings? Horror? Bring it to The Whole Novel Workshop in Fantasy & Speculative Fiction!

This workshop offers writers the rare opportunity to have the entire draft of a novel read and critiqued prior to the workshop. You’ll get a detailed editorial letter from your faculty mentor along with a marked-up manuscript. We read your manuscripts very carefully and respond thoroughly in order to help you make your novel what it wants to be.

Please note that there is an application process for this workshop.

You must register to apply for this workshop. Once you register, you will receive a response with instructions on how to apply—either just for the workshop or to apply for the workshop if requesting financial aid.

For your application, you will need to submit:

A writing sample: 10-15 pages from the manuscript you wish to workshop

A synopsis

Word count

The current status of your manuscript

The application deadline is June 15, 2019. Decisions will be made soon after the application deadline, after which you will be expected to turn in your full manuscript.

What You’ll Learn

Before you arrive at the workshop, faculty will have read the entire draft of your novel.

You’ll receive a detailed editorial letter from your faculty mentor along with a marked-up manuscript.

One-on-one meeting with your mentor to further discuss your manuscript.

Meeting with your mentor to map out a plan for revision.

Free time to write or set up appointments with the faculty or grad assistants

Lectures on craft and publishing and discussions on writing and the marketplace.

Opportunities to make connections with fellow writers.

Who Should Attend

Intermediate to advanced middle grade and young adult writers with a complete or near-complete fantasy or speculative fiction manuscript draft.

Novelists who would benefit from receiving multiple feedback perspectives. In addition to a whole-novel review, you will receive feedback from our teaching assistants, and TA’s will also be leading round table critiques.

Writers who have begun receiving personalized feedback from publisher submissions.

Writers who have taken one of our introductory novel courses, such as Getting to Know Your Novel and Novel Beginnings.

If you have taken one of these other workshops, you may find this course of special interest: Books With Bite; Retell, Revisit, Reimagine; Fairy Tales Revisited; and the Beginner’s Class in World Building.

We’re using “fantasy” and “speculative fiction” as umbrella terms for all kinds of stories that bend reality. We want your dragons and space operas, your stories about real kids with strange powers, stories with monsters and ghosts and talking squirrels, apocalypses and dystopias, time travel, adventure stories with magic maps – everything from the merest hint of magical realism to a fully invented world. If you’re wondering if something qualifies as fantasy or speculative fiction, then it probably does.


Day 1

Arrival & check in

Hors d’oeuvres & dinner


Day 2

Morning: One-to-one conferences with lead faculty

Afternoon: Craft conversations

Day 3

Morning: Writing time and/or faculty conferences

Afternoon: Breakout sessions

Day 4

Morning: Writing time and/or faculty conferences

Afternoon: Breakout sessions

Day 5

Morning: Writing time and/or faculty conferences

Afternoon: Breakout sessions

Day 6

One-to-one conferences with lead faculty

Editor breakout sessions

Day 7

Morning: One-to-one conferences with lead faculty

Afternoon: Wrap-up workshop to discuss revision plans

Evening: After dinner readings

Day 8

Brunch and departure


Laura Ruby talks about what to expect at the workshop.

Author Interview: Anne Ursu

Celebrating Laura Ruby


“Anne and Laura are honest, encouraging, illuminating and excellent teachers. They saw things I hadn’t and gave me tools to use with this work, but also with other work I’ll do in the future. It’s hard to express how grateful I am to both of them for the week we’ve spent together. I’ll always treasure what I’ve learned here and how I’ve grown as a writer.”

“The faculty were amazing! Thorough and nurturing with their feedback, accessible during meals and for scheduling chats, and flexible when hiccups invariably arose. In addition to the wonderful craft advice and wisdom I got throughout the week, I also received valuable insight on publishing and agents.”

“The guest speakers were lovely, accessible and thorough with their feedback and guidance.”

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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