Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

YA Workshop Agenda + Homework (June 16, 2018)


Kat Brzozowski & Siobhan Vivian


8:30 – 9:00 a.m. General assembly. (All groups in large room before workshops start at 9 a.m.)

9:00 – 10:00 a.m. Bridging the Gap Between Great and Irresistible – Crafting A Flawless First Chapter That Gets Your Book Sold with Kat Brzozowski and Siobhan Vivian

Most manuscript submissions die before the editor reaches the end of the first chapter. Why? What makes an editor stop reading and what makes them miss their subway stop because they’re so invested? We will discuss what makes a first chapter great, using examples both from published books and from attendees.

10:00 – 10:45 a.m. First Chapter Break Outs with Kat Brzozowski and Siobhan Vivian

Using drafts of their first chapters, participants will break out into two smaller groups for mini-workshops based on the First Chapter lecture, led by Kat and Siobhan. We will work to identify weakness and strengths, as well as develop a unique revision plan for each writer.

10:45 – 11:00 a.m. Break

11:00 – 11:30 a.m. The Quadrant – Finding the Pulse of Each Chapter with Siobhan Vivian

The details are what bring every aspect of your manuscript—setting, character, plot—to life. And for a book to truly stand out, a writer must replace rote observations with something truly unique and specific for each and every chapter. But don’t be daunted! This writing exercise will give you the tools you need to dig deep and get your story to its most authentic, believable place.

11:30 – Noon First page critiques

Noon – 1:00 p.m. Lunch

1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Speak Up, I Can’t Hear You: Writing Voice with Kat Brzozowski

You’ve come up with a plot. You’ve created characters. You have a setting. Now how do you make your readers feel like these characters are really speaking to them? Voice is one of the most important elements of fiction and one of the hardest to master. We’ll talk about how other authors craft voice successfully and how you can do it too. Be prepared to write!

2:00 – 2:15 p.m. Break

2:15 – 2:45 p.m. Flap Copy As a Narrative Lighthouse with Siobhan Vivian

It might seem like a cruel exercise—not to mention an impossible feat—to explain your book in under 250 words. But the process of writing your own flap copy can be an illuminating exercise for revision. And it’s also a terrific sales tool for when submitting your manuscript. So…which characters should you mention? What storylines should you leave out? And does your book actually deliver what you promise? Using examples, Siobhan will guide you the through the process and sail you safely into the harbor.

2:45 – 3:15 p.m. Today’s YA Market with Kat Brzozowski

It’s important to know the landscape of the genre you’re writing in. We’ll discuss YA trends and how books make it through an acquisition meeting in this session, as well as answer all your big and small publishing questions you’ve always wanted to ask.

3:15-4:00 p.m.  Q&A

4:00-4:30 p.m. General assembly. (All groups in large room.)


1) Participants, please bring the entire first chapter of your YA manuscript to workshop in a group setting. You may start your manuscript at the top of the page. Please use 12-pt. Times New Roman and double space with one-inch margins.

2) Bring in a few additional scenes from your WIP to work on privately.

3) Bring a pen and paper (or a computer) and be ready to write!