Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Full Novel Workshop

Date(s) - 11/16/2019
8:30 am - 4:15 pm

Baca Center
301 W. Bagdad Avenue - Round Rock, Texas 78664


Master the nuts and bolts of novels at our


Nov. 16, 2019

At this one-day event, you’ll learn about the main aspects of novel writing plus have guided writing time during which you can work on your own manuscripts with our acclaimed faculty. (Register below. SCBWI members login to get the lowest rate.) The covered topics include:

* Character Development/POV

* Setting/World-building

* Plot/Structure

* Revision Techniques

Our faculty includes four amazing authors and teachers: Cory Putman Oakes, Varsha Bajaj, Nikki Loftin and Jessica Lee Anderson. Read their bios below.


8:30 – 9: Registration

9 – 9:50: HOW TO RAISE A GOOD CHARACTER with Varsha Bajaj

Raising and nurturing your characters from conception to infancy and beyond.

Allowing them to speak to you, to other characters and to your reader so they shine and become as real as possible.

Who will your character have to be live the life and face the challenges that you have planned for him/her?

10 – 10:50: NEXT LEVEL WORLD BUILDING with Cory Putman Oakes

Does the setting in your current work-in-progress feel more like a 2D backdrop than a living, breathing space that interacts with your characters and helps move your plot? Don’t fret – help is here! In this session we’ll discuss all of the most important aspects of world building: the building process (it’s all in the details), strategies for introducing your world to your reader (while avoiding “information dumps”), ideas for helping your world and your main character interact (in ways that elevate them both), and trouble-shooting common mistakes. And if you think world building is just for fantasy or science fiction books, think again! Every book has a world. Contemporary worlds (such as schools, small towns, summer camps) have just as many nuances as fantasy worlds and require just as much attention from the author.

This session will have four parts:

  1. Creating Your World: Factors and techniques to consider when building your world
  2. Showing Off Your World: Strategies for translating the world onto the page
  3. Your World and Your Main Character: How to make the most of this oft-neglected relationship
  4. Trouble-Shooting: Common world building mistakes (and how to fix them)

GOAL: For each participant to take the world-building in their WIP to a new level through discussion, examples, and worksheets.

11:00 – 12:00: Writing time / consulting with faculty

12:45  – 1:40: A DEEP DESIRE TO BLOW THINGS UP: Delving into Plot and Structure with Nikki Loftin 

Have you ever despaired in the “mushy middle” of your novel? Ever trembled at the thought of coming up with a cohesive, appealing series of events for your manuscript, and wished for a handy guide to understanding how, when, where and why your story could best move forward?

In this session, you will explore the interplay of character with plot and structure in famous works and in your own. The goal is to discover different ways to understand these fundamental authorial choices, so that when you get stuck starting, or carrying through mid-manuscript, you have a guide to working out your plot problems without resorting to blowing everything up (unless that’s what your novel needs).

1:50 – 2:40: DIAMOND MINING & REFINING: Revision Strategies to Get Your Manuscript Shining with Jessica Lee Anderson 

Typing “The End” at the completion of a first draft is a major accomplishment, but it also is the beginning of the next step in the publication process which can be daunting, yet inevitable and essential: revision. In this workshop, we’ll dig into revision strategies to refine a manuscript to reveal the luster within.

2:45 – 3:45: Writing Time / consulting with faculty

3:45 – 4:15: Discussion & Q&A

Attendance costs $50 for SCBWI members, $75 for non-members. (SCBWI members login to get the lowest rate.) Breakfast and lunch are NOT included. Bring a brown bag lunch or get something locally then network with attendees.

Come learn, network and write with wonderful published kidlit authors.

Meet Our Faculty

Jessica Lee Anderson is the author of four novels including TRUDY, winner of the Milkweed Prize for Children’s Literature, and her most recent novel, UNCERTAIN SUMMER. She’s published multiple chapter books and early readers for Rourke Educational Media which includes such titles as BROWNIES WITH BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, CASE OF FOUL PLAY ON A SCHOOL DAY, and TIME TO MOVE, PEACOCK. She’s also published fiction and nonfiction with Capstone, Heinemann, Pearson, Seedling Publications, Six Red Marbles, and a variety of magazines including Highlights for Children. Jessica graduated from Hollins University with a Master of Arts in Children’s Literature, and previously instructed at the Institute of Children’s Literature and St. Edward’s University. She lives near Austin, Texas with her husband, daughter, and toothless rat terrier.

Varsha Bajaj is the award-winning author of picture books and middle grade novels. Her middle grade novels are COUNT ME IN and ABBY SPENCER GOES TO BOLLYWOOD, which was shortlisted for the Cybils Award and included in the Spirit of Texas Reading program. Her picture books include THE HOME BUILDERS, and THIS IS OUR BABY, BORN TODAY, a Bank street Best Book.
She grew up in Mumbai, India and when she came to the United States to obtain her master’s degree, her adjustment to the country was aided by her awareness of the culture through books.

Nikki Loftin lives with her Scottish photographer husband just outside Austin, Texas, surrounded by dogs, cats, chickens, and rambunctious boys. She is the author of three middle grade novels, all published by Razorbill/Penguin: WISH GIRL, NIGHTINGALE’S NEST and THE SINISTER SWEETNESS OF SPLENDID ACADEMY.

Cory Putman Oakes is a children’s book author from Austin, Texas. Her latest novel, THE SECOND BEST HAUNTED HOTEL ON MERCER STREET is due out in Fall 2020 from Abrams/Amulet. Cory is also the author of two other middle grade books, DINOSAUR BOY and DINOSAUR BOY SAVES MARS, and two young adult books, THE VEIL and WITCHTOWN. Cory is an ex-lawyer and when she’s not writing, she enjoys baking, and hanging out with her husband, their kids, their cats, and their one-eyed hedgehog named Professor Pickles.