Course Description

Led by Michelle Schusterman, author of over a dozen critically acclaimed novels for middle grade and young adult readers. Her books have received starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and Publisher's Weekly and have received honors including multiple Junior Library Guild selections, the CBCC Best of 2019 List, ALA's Rainbow List and Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers List, and the NC State College of Education Comic Relief Reading List. 

Discover the art of fiction writing and learn how stories are made: from imagination, to writing, to revision. Explore the writing craft with daily creation and writing activities that will help develop your unique voice and activate an understanding of advanced fiction writing techniques. 

This 8-module workshop is for tweens and teens who love writing fiction in any genre. Each module focuses on a lecture combined with a writing activity designed to develop a particular area of storytelling, such as character development, plot and structure, and narrative voice. Students are encouraged to set a project goal for the course, such as “finish a short story” or “write the first three chapters of my novel.”  

The instructor and students will meet for a weekly Zoom workshop, where students will have the opportunity to discuss the lectures and share their writing for feedback. The time for the workshop will be set before the course start date; the instructor will poll students with available times to ensure the schedule is convenient for everyone.


COURSE OUTLINE

Module One

Story Starters. How do you turn an idea into a story? Michelle kicks things off by sharing the three ingredients writers need to take that seed of an idea and create a plot around it, using her own novel Spell & Spindle as an example. The lesson will end with a writing activity designed to help writers find a plot for their story idea and get started. 

Module Two

Perspective and Tense. Michelle will discuss the different perspectives and tenses writers use and how to choose the right combination of each for a story, using several examples from published novels to illustrate why authors choose past or present, and first, second, or third person, and what effect those choices have on the tone of the story. This lesson includes a perspective/tense-swap activity designed to help students think more critically about these important elements and settle on a perspective and tense for their story-in-progress. 

Module Three

Character Motivation. Michelle will lead a discussion on maybe her favorite topic of all time: finding protagonists’ internal and external wants and needs. This lecture includes an analysis of several well-known stories and protagonists, along with a writing activity focused on characterization that will help writers get to know their protagonists even better. 

Module Four

Postulates and Character Arcs. Michelle will introduce the concept of character postulates or beliefs and discuss how a character’s behavior drives their choices and pushes the action forward. Students will create a “Golden Triangle” to help find the shape of their character arc.

Module Five 

Narrative Voice. Michelle will get into the nitty gritty details on the elusive topic of “voice” in fiction; what is it? How can we find our unique voice as writers? This lesson includes a “complex emotions” activity to help students show the reader how a character feels, rather than tell.

Module Six

World-building. Michelle will lead a discussion on the importance of world-building in any genre of fiction—it’s not just for sci-fi and fantasy! Writers will analyze excerpts from multiple novels in different genres to identify how the author incorporated details through narration and dialogue that helps the reader visualize the setting. This lesson includes a story annotation activity.

Module Seven

Summary vs narration. Michelle will lead a discussion on the difference between summary/exposition and narration, and provide examples of her own writing to illustrate the process of turning exposition into narrative fiction. This lesson includes a writing activity that will help students strengthen their own narration, as well as identify unnecessary exposition. 

Module Eight

Revising and Editing. Michelle will lead a discussion on figuring out the end of a story. What makes a satisfying ending? Can you have a few loose ends? What about cliffhangers? This lesson includes a Book Map template to aid students in coming up with a game plan for tackling revisions of their stories.

TESTIMONIALS:

  • Ms. Schusterman is one of the best writing teachers I have ever had and I am very grateful for everything she has done to help me. Thanks to this course and her guidance, I have been able to start my book. I am indebted to Ms. Schusterman.
  • Michelle was AMAZING!!!! She gave reader specific feedback and taught us a lot of beneficial things.
  • Ms. Schusterman was a very kind and open instructor, providing us with lots of advice and kindness. She was one of the best writing instructors I have ever had!
  • She's a real published author with her own wiki page and I can't believe I got to study with her!


ONLINE COURSE STRUCTURE:

This is an online video class with 8 modules spaced out over the course of 8 weeks. The weekly modules are entirely asynchronous, which means you complete the weekly assignments on your own schedule. Upon enrollment, you'll receive an invitation to activate your account in Thinkfic, our online platform for video courses.

PAYMENT OPTIONS:

You can pay for the course in full  or use Affirm or Shop Pay to pay over time with equal Monthly Payments. These options are available at checkout.

  • Instructor: Michelle Schusterman

  • Class is on-demand and starts when you enroll.

  • Course is fully ONLINE; students can work according to their own schedule within weekly deadlines. Once you have enrolled, you'll receive an invitation to activate your account in Thinkfic, our online platform for video courses.

Contact us HERE if you have any questions about this class.

About Michelle Schusterman:

Michelle Schusterman is the critically acclaimed author of over a dozen novels, including Spell & Spindle and The Pros of Cons, as well as the Kudo Kids mystery series co-authored with Olympic medalists Maia and Alex Shibutani. Michelle’s books have received starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and Publisher’s Weekly and have received honors including multiple Junior Library Guild selections, the CBCC Best of 2019 List, ALA’s Rainbow List and Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers List, and the NC State College of Education Comic Relief Reading List. In the last seven years, Michelle has led hundreds of creative writing workshops with organizations including Writing Workshops Dallas, Writopia Lab, and Lawson Writers Academy.

Course curriculum

  • 1

    Welcome

    • Introduction

  • 2

    Week One

    • Turning an Idea into a Story

    • Mix and Match Exercise Instructions

  • 3

    Week Two

    • Perspective and Tense

    • Verb Tenses

    • SWAP Exercise

  • 4

    Week Three

    • Character Motivation

    • Exercise #1: Wants and Needs

    • Exercise #2: Priority List

    • Exercise #3: Dear Past Me

  • 5

    Week Four

    • Character Postulates

    • Behaviors and Flaws

    • Character Compulsion

    • Creating a Character Arc

  • 6

    Week Five

    • Narrative Voice

    • Show Don't Tell

    • Complex Emotions Exercise

  • 7

    Week Six

    • World-building

    • Building a Speculative World

    • Speculative Example

    • Contemporary Fiction

    • Contemporary Example

    • Historical Fiction

    • Historical Example

    • Worldbuilding Exercise

  • 8

    Week Seven

    • Summary versus Narration

    • Scene Transitions

    • Scene Beginnings and Endings

  • 9

    Week Eight

    • Reaching the End

    • The Neverscene

    • Revising and Editing

    • Game Plan

  • 10

    Wrap Up

    • Wrap Up

Instructor

Michelle Schusterman

Michelle Schusterman is the critically acclaimed author of over a dozen novels, including Spell & Spindle and The Pros of Cons, as well as the Kudo Kids mystery series co-authored with Olympic medalists Maia and Alex Shibutani. Michelle’s books have received starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and Publisher’s Weekly and have received honors including multiple Junior Library Guild selections, the CBCC Best of 2019 List, ALA’s Rainbow List and Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers List, and the NC State College of Education Comic Relief Reading List. In the last seven years, Michelle has led hundreds of creative writing workshops with organizations including Writing Workshops Dallas, Writopia Lab, and Lawson Writers Academy.