Pushing the Limits: Writing Experimental Fiction for YA and Middle Grade Readers 2020

  • Highlights Foundation Highlights Foundation
  • Pocono Mountains Municipal, Coolbaugh Township, PA, USA
  • Oct 29 - Nov 1, 2020 (4 days)

About This Event

Join Us To:

Acquire the confidence and craft knowledge to take your novel from brilliant idea to completed draft, whether it's a novel in verse, genre hybrid, or story that starts at the end. Pop open the hoods of acclaimed experimental YA and middle grade novels to see what makes them run. Through lectures, group discussions, and one-on-one sessions, learn from accomplished faculty who’ve successfully navigated their own unconventional paths.

What You'll Learn:

Join us to get answers to these questions and more:

What makes a novel experimental?

How do you insure that traditional craft elements such as plot, character, and pacing are fully developed in a nontraditional work?

How can you play with form so it’s not just a gimmick but an integral part of your story?

How do you pitch an out-of-the-box manuscript to agents and editors?

Note: to get the most benefit from the workshop, please submit a synopsis and first chapter of your manuscript before arriving.

Attend If:

You have a concept for a YA or middle-grade novel that’s a little--or a lot--"out there." Bring it here! We’ll give you the freedom to explore your idea in an environment where no one will look at you funny or say, “Why would you want to do THAT?”

Your experimental work-in-progress doesn’t seem to be progressing. Group problem-solving sessions and individual meetings with faculty will get those wheels rolling again.

You want to learn how to present your unconventional manuscript to the market. Agents and editors get tired of seeing the same old thing in their inboxes. Your book might be just what they are looking for, but how to convince them? We’ll show you.

You have a novel you’ve always wanted to write, but don’t dare. We totally get it. We’ve been there. We want to help you work through the fear.

Still not sure if this is the right course for you? Watch a video where Program Director Alison Green Myers shares details about the differences between our genre and format-focused workshops for 2020.


Day 1


Arrival and check in


Appetizers & dinner

After dinner: bring your favorite experimental novel to share with the group!

Day 2



Group workshop: introductions and brainstorming your experimental novels-in-progress.



One-to-one faculty consultations

Free writing or revision time

Special guest presentation: Kekla Magoon will discuss how she approaches her own unique novels.


Appetizers & dinner

After dinner: night owls can join faculty member Phoebe North in telling a story in a novel form by playing the indie tabletop game Dialect.

Day 3



Group activity



One-to-one faculty consultations

Free writing or revision time

Break-out problem solving groups to tackle common manuscript blocks with our assistant, middle grade writer Alysa Wishingrad

Guest author Megan Atwood will lead writing exercise that will help you get over those lingering hurdles in your novel


Appetizers & dinner

After dinner: join us for an optional viewing of the movie Adaptation.

Day 4



Wrap-up session to discuss next steps and moving forward on your experimental work.


Lunch & farewells

A Note About Highlights Workshop Agendas


“I’ve been to many conferences and workshops and I teach a workshop every summer but coming to a Highlights workshop has been on my bucket list for years. It even exceeded my high expectations. Hard to put into words but the whole experience was magical. Being in a nurturing bubble, totally immersed in writing was amazing. No newspapers, no TV, no laundry to do or meals to cook, just writing. And learning from amazing mentors. And talking about writing. And writing some more… Bliss.”

Scholarships Available

Three scholarships are available for this workshop:

Full tuition

Half tuition

Partial tuition

Application deadline is August 10, 2020. Scholarships will be announced September 9, 2020.

Click here to apply!

For more information about scholarships, click here.

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.
Get full details...

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