• $1,495.00 – Program Price

Filling the Writer’s Toolbox: Tools for First Lines, Voice, Character, World Building, and Revision 2018

With Emma D. Dryden, Pat Cummings, Yesenia Flores Diaz, Lisa Cinelli and Kevin Lewis

May 12 - 17, 2018

Under the guidance of Emma Dryden you’ll prepare your manuscript for submission and gain a deep understanding of the fundamentals of writing for children.
In this workshop, renowned editor and consultant Emma D. Dryden will guide participants through proven techniques for editing and revising their manuscripts. This workshop is geared specifically to authors of picture books and middle grade and young adult novels who have completed entire drafts of their manuscripts and taken their work through at least one or two rounds of revision. We will be discussing, exploring, and using various tools to help authors prepare their manuscripts to catch the heart of an agent and publisher.

This intense five-day course includes:

First Lines, Last Lines, and the Promise Fulfilled
So often agents and editors stop reading a manuscript after the first page. Why? What’s missing? Emma will start this session with a presentation about the importance of first lines and first pages, focusing on what the first page promises to the main character and to the reader. Emma will then comment on two or three first and last typewritten and appropriately formatted pages of participants’ manuscripts. This session will provide the sort of thoughts and comments agents and editors have when they consider submissions. Participants will be encouraged to read aloud. Includes handouts, worksheets, writing exercises, and Q&A.

Hearing Voices, Hearing Characters
Voice is elusive and very hard to define, yet it’s as important as character in terms of compelling agents and editors to read beyond the initial query. Emma will start this session with a discussion of all aspects of voice —narrative voice, character voice, and the overall voice of our stories. This will be followed by an exploration of the Character Interview Questionnaire and related Character Worksheets, which participants will use to go deeper into their characters’ voices, hearts, and minds. Participants will be encouraged to read aloud. Includes handouts, worksheets, writing exercises, and Q&A.

What in the World?
Internal and external world-building: All stories – be they fantasy or reality, picture book or novel – need to exist within a consistent context. This session explores the physical, psychological, and emotional contexts for our stories and our characters. Emma will start this session with a presentation about world-building, followed by participants trying out some methods for building believable settings and believable inner worlds. Participants will be encouraged to read aloud. Includes handouts, worksheets, writing exercises, and Q&A.

Renew, Refresh, and Revise!
Hang onto your hats! In this session, Emma will be guiding participants through a wide and varied array of revision techniques and tools. Some will be familiar; some will be new. Some will be fun; some will be uncomfortable. All will be valuable in forcing participants to see their work anew, which is a key to successful revision. Participants will be encouraged to read aloud. Includes handouts, worksheets, writing exercises, and Q&A.

In addition to these engaging sessions, writers will receive one-on-one feedback and participate in small group workshopping with Emma and guests.

Note: Writers must have a completed manuscript to qualify for this workshop and submit parts from the beginning, middle, and end prior to attending. (Picture book writers will submit entire manuscripts.)

Please note that we are still adding faculty to this workshop.

About the Leaders


Emma D. Dryden

Emma D. Dryden founded drydenbks LLC (, a premiere children’s editorial & publishing consultancy firm, after 25 years experience as editor and publisher of Margaret K. McElderry Books and Atheneum Books for Young Readers, imprints of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. She edits children’s books and digital content for all ages, consults on writing and […]

Learn more about Emma D. Dryden
Pat Cummings

Pat Cummings

Pat is the author and/or illustrator of over 35 books for young readers.  She also edited the award-winning series,Talking With Artists, which profiles prominent children’s book illustrators. Her children’s book classes at Parsons and Pratt list a growing number of notable illustrator/authors among their graduates.  Pat serves on the boards of The Authors Guild, The Authors […]

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Yesenia Flores Diaz

YESENIA FLORES DÍAZ Yesenia Flores Díaz credits her parents and elementary school librarian for cultivating a love of reading. She won the 2016 Brooklyn Non-Fiction Prize for her essay, Abuela My Redeemer. Her short story, Don’t Call Me Nena, was selected as first place winner in the 2017 Montgomery Writes! Fiction Contest. She is a […]

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Lisa Cinelli

Lisa Cinelli is an award-winning painter, childrenʼs book author/illustrator and a Teaching Artist. She is happiest exploring story ideas, experimenting with materials and techniques, gathering notes and images in her sketchbooks and filling handmade accordion books with words and pictures. Lisa has an MA in Illustration from Syracuse University and a BFA from The School […]

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