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Featured Online Novel Writing Class

Margo L. Dill

Writing Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction: A Study and Workshop with Margo L. Dill

START DATE: Wednesday, January 26, 2022

END DATE: Wednesday, March 9, 2022

DURATION:  6 weeks

LOCATION:  Private Website, Email, and Google Drive

FEEDBACK:  Instructor feedback and critique

COURSE DESCRIPTION: If you’re currently writing or want to write a middle-grade or young adult novel, this is the course for you! Margo has written both, edited tons, taught workshops on how to write these, and shared novels in classrooms and assemblies with kids, too. In this course, you will learn what makes a middle grade or young adult novel successful, how to plot one, how to relate to the audience, and popular novels that kids and teens love. Margo will be referring to popular novels such as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Holes, Twilight, Hunger Games, and more. It is not necessary to buy these books; but as you know, if you want to write for kids and teens, it is necessary to be familiar with the genre. Finally, you will receive a critique on the first two chapters of your novel or up to 20 pages. When you finish this class, you will have a novel plan, understand the genre you are writing and the audience you’re writing for, and have one to two chapters written with feedback.


Margo was invaluable in the early stages of my writing and later as I worked on my first YA novel. She was supportive when I needed it and her critiques were filled with constructive comments. She was especially helpful as I struggled to find my voice. Often when the dreaded “show, don’t tell” comment reared its head, she offered much needed tips to bring the character to life. As I submitted chapters each week, our work together felt like a team effort, and I knew she wanted my story to come to life. Writing A Novel with Margo Dill is worth more than I could have imagined—it was and is a writer’s confidence builder. ~ Leah B. Eskine

I owe my renewed enthusiasm for my long-suffering novel to Margo’s WOW! Writing a Novel with a Writing Coach class. Her critiques were informative and respectful. I’m now refocusing the novel and will take this course again. I highly recommend Margo. ~ Elizabeth Maggio

Margo’s class helped me refine my existing novel and feel confident that I could send it out to agents and editors. I also found I could use her suggestions in other stories and even my non-fiction writing. I still share some of her advice in my critique groups! ~ Elizabeth P.H.

I have taken a few classes with Margo over several years. I walked away smarter as a writer with an actionable to-do list. As a writing coach, she was honest and challenged me in unexpected ways. I highly recommend her. ~ Marie Hanson

It was invaluable to get insight from a published children’s author. Margo was great to work with: kind, flexible, knowledgeable, and consistent. I loved how she was always willing to brainstorm with me when I got stuck. Very quick response time! Would work with her again in a heartbeat. ~ Stephanie Lennon


Week One: You have an idea, now what?

You want to write or have written a middle grade or young adult novel. Maybe it’s only an idea. Maybe it’s words on the page. What next? Do you know the difference, and are you sure what you are writing?

This week, there will be a recorded webinar given by Margo that focuses on ideas and differences between middle grade and young adult novels. You will create a tagline for your novel and also try your hand at some “back cover copy.” (All of these will be covered in the webinar.) And we will talk about the benefits of lightly planning your novel, even if you are a pantser.

Assignment: Fill out the questionnaire about your novel, and if possible, include the idea, back cover copy, and tagline. After this assignment is turned in, you will schedule your consultation for up to 30 minutes with Margo online or over the phone, which will be conducted sometime during the first few weeks of class.

Week Two: Characters

The characters in your novel are whom readers will fall in love with (Harry Potter, Katniss) or root for the hero to destroy (Voldemort!). This week, you will receive several handouts on different types of characters in novels: protagonist, antagonist, sidekick, and mentor. You will also watch a recorded interview with Margo and another author about creating flawed characters.

Assignment: Write descriptions of the four types of characters for your novel, and (optional) show at least two of them in a short scene.

Week Three: Conflict

In your novel, something has to happen. You have to create tension—even if you are writing a humorous novel. There are two kinds of conflict in all novels—inner and outer. You want to have a problem that your protagonist is working to solve and that your antagonist is trying to stop from being solved—or maybe your antagonist is creating the problem, such as in superhero novels. Plus, there are subplots that can cause conflict. In a recorded webinar, Margo will discuss conflict in middle grade and young adult novels.

Assignment: Fill out a worksheet on conflict for your novel on both inner and outer conflict for our protagonist and your antagonist, and any subplots you are considering.

Week Four: The L-Word, Technology, and Four-Letter Words

How much romance do you want in your middle grade or young adult story? What about sex or kissing? If you’re writing a modern-day story, how do you deal with technology which is always changing? If you don’t want your characters to have instant access to their friends, do you set the novel back in the 90s? Plus, we all know kids cuss when their parents are not around, but how does it sound in the novel?

These topics and any other hot button issues will be discussed this week on a private blog post. Each student will present information from (through a discussion—nothing formal) a published novel for the age group they are writing for and how the author dealt with these issues in the novel.

Assignment: Develop a dialogue exchange between protagonist and the love interest. If you are writing a middle-grade novel and you are NOT going to have a crush or love interest, you can do this scene with the sidekick. Make decisions on technology and four-letter words, if those will be issues in your novels.

Week Five: The Beginning of Your Novel

The biggest question of so many novelists seems to be: Where do I start my novel? Many critiques begin with: your writing is great, but I’m not sure you started in the right place. In a recorded webinar, Margo will discuss popular novel beginnings and why authors started at those places. You will learn about the inciting incident, the Save the Cat method of writing a novel, and ways to never start a novel because they are cliché or overdone.

Assignment: Write the first chapter of a novel to turn into Margo for feedback.

Week Six: Synopsis and Chapter two

Reading some examples of Novel Beat Sheets from Save the Cat, you will write a novel plan (at least Act One—the first 5 beats) and either revise chapter one of your novel from last week or write chapter two. On the private blog, you will be able to ask Margo questions and discuss ideas with other students. This week will be mostly used on the assignment, to catch up from other weeks, and to ask Margo questions (or other classmates!) now that you have been working with your novel for five weeks!

Assignment: Turn in your synopsis/novel plan and either revised chapter one or chapter two for critique and feedback.

Materials needed: Materials will be provided by the instructor. An internet connection is necessary. Students will need access to at least one middle-grade book or young adult book written in the last 25 years (preferably, although others will be considered. This book can be checked out from a library.).

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR: Margo Dill has helped hundreds of writers create stories for readers aged 0 to 100. She is the author of Caught Between Two Curses, a YA light paranormal romance novel involving the Curse of the Billy Goat on the Chicago Cubs; Maggie Mae, Detective Extraordinaire: The Case of the Missing Cookies (picture book); and Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg, a historical fiction, middle-grade novel. Besides being a children’s author, she is also a freelance editor with the business, Editor 911: Your Projects Are My Emergency! and she is part of the WOW! Women On Writing e-zine’s staff as the managing editor. Margo loves presenting workshops to writing groups and school groups. She also loves blogging and does so regularly on WOW!’s blog, The Muffin, and on her own website, When she is not writing or editing, Margo loves to spend time with her daughter and lab mix puppy, Sudsi. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri; and if she could eat out every day, she would!

COST: $180, which includes three recorded webinars to watch at your convenience, an interview with Margo, access to a private blog/discussion page, one-to-two-chapter critique, feedback on assignments, and a 30-minute phone consultation with Margo for each class member.

BONUS! Students who successfully complete Writing Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction will be offered five critiques (instead of four) in Margo’s class Writing a Novel with a Writing Coach if they enroll in this course within two months of completing the middle grade/young adult course.

BUY NOW: Writing Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction: A Study and Workshop with Margo L. Dill (6 weeks, starting 1/26/22) Limit: 10 students. Early registration is recommended.

This class is now closed. Please check out our current schedule here.

For Class Session Starting 1/26/2022


Notes:  Upon successful completion of payment, your name, email address, and contact info will be submitted to your instructor. Just before class begins, she will e-mail you with instructions on how to get started.

Questions? Email Marcia & Angela at:

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