Caribbean Middle-Grade Novel Writing Workshop Application

Carol Mitchell Free Writing Workshop

Applications are now open for CaribbeanReads’ first Caribbean middle-grade (grades 4-early high school) novel writing workshop. Our aim is to encourage new authors to develop their writing skills in this genre, writing for children ages 8-13. The workshops are free. They will be conducted by Carol Mitchell, MFA. Submission deadline is October 15. Applicants will be notified on October 26 and the workshop will be held in mid-November 2020

We are looking for applicants who are seriously interested in writing in this genre. You do not need to have experience writing or a novel in progress. In fact, we are particularly interested in first-time authors. You must, however, have an idea that you want to work on.

We will not make applicant names public.

Acceptance to the workshop is not an offer for publication. See our call for manuscripts to find out how to submit your manuscript for consideration.

What’s a middle-grade novel?

These are books for readers in the last years of primary school and early years of high school. These readers are beyond picture books and early chapter books but not ready for the themes in YA novels.

Age range of readers: 8-13 years. This is a large range and will include simpler, shorter books for the 8-10 range and slightly longer, more involved ones for the 11-13 year olds.
Length: 15,000 – 50,000 words. This is a guide. There are longer middle-grade books.
Character ages: 10-14 years old. Generally children like to read up, so the protagonists should be slightly older than the children in your target age range. They can’t be too old or the concerns that are most realistic for your characters will be too advanced for your readers.

What are we looking for in the ideas?

  • Authentic Caribbean setting.
  • Your primary aim should not be to teach your readers a moral or life lesson. If that happens, it’s fine but your main intention should be to tell a compelling story about interesting characters.
  • No folktales. We love folktales but it’s not what we’re looking for now. If the stories show Caribbean folklore, history, past cultural norms, that’s great, but it should be a natural outgrowth of the story.

What will the workshop cover?

The workshop will be four online sessions of approximately three hours each. These sessions will be spread over a two-week period to allow participants time to practice the techniques learnt between sessions. The sessions will be collaborative and involve feedback from the instructor and from the other participants. Topics covered will include:

  • idea development;
  • story structure;
  • character development;
  • writing dialog;
  • the Caribbean setting;
  • grammar and writing conventions;
  • and much more.

What you should submit?

Enter the required information in this form to submit your application. The information requested will take a while to compile so we suggest that you compose your answers in a separate savable document then paste the sections into the form to avoid losing your work. The information required is as follows:

  • Author biography including your connection to the Caribbean (not more than 150 words);
  • Synopsis of your idea in not more than 150 words. (Be sure to include the book’s connection to the Caribbean);
  • A brief statement on why you’re excited about writing a book for 8-13 year olds (not more than 150 words);
  • Title, author, and synopsis of a middle-grade book you’ve recently read and enjoyed (not more than 250 words).

Please follow the instructions carefully.

Deadline for applying is October 15. Notifications will go out to all applicants on October 26.