This is the year to write your novel

Novel in a Year: Young Adult/Middle Grade is a unique opportunity for aspiring novelists to study the art of fiction, refine their craft, share their work, get and give constructive feedback, and join a supportive, educational, and literary cohort of fellow writers. 

COVID UPDATE: We will are moving the entire 2021 program to an online format. Students will meet on Zoom monthly.


It’s a chance to devote an entire year to your novel, giving it the attention and effort your work deserves. Award-winning YA author James Klise will lead workshops, offer craft lessons, and provide comprehensive, supportive feedback on your young-adult or middle-grade manuscript. Within the workshop, your group will examine the total novel-writing process, from initial drafting through revision, and conclude with some tips for approaching agents and editors with your work.

Benefit from special Master Classes from visiting authors, and enjoy a writing retreat with other novelists.


The class is appropriate for writers anywhere in the first draft of a novel. Some students already may have completed 100 pages (or more) of their manuscripts; others may have nothing more than a first chapter or initial scenes. Work of any genre is welcome.

It will help all students to have some knowledge of the marketplace: Do you eagerly read middle grade novels and/or young adult novels? If not, this will be a good year to dive in! There’s never been a better selection of diverse, compelling, imaginative, and meaningful work for young readers.

This application-based class is selective. We are looking for students with talent and drive, though familiarity with the workshop process or previous experience writing a novel is not necessary.


Specific topics covered during the class sessions include:

  • The Author’s Promise (to the reader and to herself/himself)
  • Voice, Tense, & Point of View
  • Character Building
  • Effective Openings
  • Setting & Description
  • Using Scene & Summary
  • Plotting and Pacing
  • Tension & Dialogue
  • Satisfying Endings
  • Revision
  • How Publication Works
  • Submitting Your Novel to Agents/Editors

PLEASE NOTE: This program is for novelists who are ready to make a strong commitment to their work, and our waitlist for the course is typically very long. Students will be expected to participate in the full program.


Students will meet monthly for three-hour sessions to discuss craft, solve drafting challenges, workshop scenes, and share some snacks and beverages. In between class sessions you’ll have plenty of time to write and generate new work while still staying in touch via StoryStudio’s private online class forum.

We’ve structured this program to provide maximum benefit without demanding too much time away from focusing on your own work. In addition to workshopping short scenes in class, participants will meet individually with James for 100-page manuscript reviews.

Students enrolled in this course will receive complimentary admission and early registration to three (3) classes from our acclaimed Master Class series throughout the year. (Recent and upcoming writers include Alexander Chee, Pam Houston, Vu Tran, R.O. Kwon, Sara Paretsky, and Garth Greenwell, among others.)

The class also includes a one-day offsite spring writers retreat, where you can spend the day writing and thinking, with breaks to mingle at lunch and over drinks with students in our other novel workshops. Additionally, throughout the year we will organize two optional evening social gatherings. As a writer in our Novel in a Year program, you’re considered a “VIP” at the studio.

Throughout the course, you’ll have access to a private online forum for exchanging additional work and sharing articles and links of interest. And most importantly, these courses provide accountability check-ins to report your progress and struggles, and keep you writing.


Whether you’ve already made headway on your novel or are just gathering ideas, your cohort will provide the structure, companionship, feedback, good humor, and emotional support to help you see your project through.

You’ll also join StoryStudio’s larger community—in person and on social media—where you can connect with students from other classes, receive “first chance” invitations to special programming, and stay informed about literary events around the city.

The Novel In a Year program has been going for seven years strong, and you will have the opportunity to benefit socially and professionally from a strong network of alumni, many of whom are experiencing publishing success.

The program fee is $2,350. 

This tuition includes:

11 sessions, meeting once per month for 11 months
A 100-page manuscript review with James Klise
3 comped passes to our Master Class series
A private online chat forum
VIP status at the Studio
A literary community to take well beyond this program


2021 Schedule Meets on the Following Dates on Tuesdays,
6:30pm – 9:30pm Central:

January 26
February 23
March 23
April 27
May 25
June 29
July 27
August 31
September 28
October 26
November 30



This course is limited to 12 students and is submission based.

  1. You will be asked to submit a 10-page writing sample in a .doc or PDF. The sample can be a short story or novel excerpt.
  2. Someone who submits on the first day has the same chance as someone who submits on the last day, so don’t worry, and don’t rush.
  3. Payment isn’t due until after the application period is closed and acceptances have been sent out. We are happy to discuss payment plans with students who are accepted.
  4. You can indicate you’d like to be considered for the Doro Boehme Scholarship fund, a $500 grant toward tuition.

The 2020 cohort is currently underway. The next cohort will begin in January 2021, and applications will open in the fall of 2020. Please subscribe to our newsletter to get the most up-to-date information. When applications open, we will update this page as well. To be notified when details are available, please put your name on our waitlist and we’ll contact you.