Writing a middle grade book

Course Dates: 26/09/19 - 05/12/19
Time: 10:30 - 12:00
Location: KS - Keeley Street
Penny Joelson

Learn the art of writing for Middle Grade (9-12 year olds). Explore what makes a great children's book by analysing the work of successful current authors and produce your own writing inspired by them.


What is the course about?

We will read and learn from a range of successful books published in the last fifteen years and then try out the techniques learnt. Each session will be a combination of reading analysis and writing exercises. A reading list will be provided for guidance and students can read as many books from the list as they choose, as long as they bring the book they are reading to class each week.

The Tutor: Penny Joelson is a children’s author and experienced Build tutor. She writes for all age groups and has also had a number of books for children published under her maiden name, Penny Kendal. Penny has worked as a primary school teacher and family learning tutor and she also runs writing workshops for children. Her latest YA mystery is ‘Girl in the Window’, published by Egmont. Her previous thriller ‘I Have No Secrets’, also published by Egmont, has won the 2018 FCBG Children’s Book Award for Older Readers, as well as the Leeds, Worcestershire, Cumbria and Sussex Book Awards.

Build reserves the right to change course tutors from those advertised in this outline. In line with our refund policy we are unable to grant a refund on the grounds of a change of tutor.

What will we cover?

- What makes a children's book successful?
- How have different authors approached the same themes?
- We will a look at topics including, grabbing the reader, characterisation, plot, dialogue, different genres. We will also look at how to get published.
Books on the list may include books by Emma Carroll, Jacqueline Wilson, Emmah Shevah, Neil Gaiman, Sita Brachmachari, Candy Gourlay, Ross Mckenzie, Sarah Driver.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- analyse successful children’s books; identify and describe key factors that have made them successful
- demonstrate a broadened knowledge of recent children’s books and current trends
- use a children’s book or author’s style as a starting point for writing creatively
- demonstrate a greater comprehension of plotting, characterisation and use of language in children’s books.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

You'll need a good level of spoken and written English and a love of children’s literature, should be prepared to participate in discussions and to write creatively. The course is open to experienced children’s authors or beginners.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

The course will involve reading a selection of books from a reading list and doing a range of writing exercises, both in class and at home.

All writing courses at Build will involve an element of workshop. This means that students will produce work which will be discussed in an open and constructive environment with the tutor and other students. The college operates a policy of constructive criticism, and all feedback on another student’s work by the tutor and other students should be delivered in that spirit.

For classes longer than one day regular reading and writing exercises will be set for completion at home to set deadlines.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

A reading list and timetable will be supplied and students will be expected to read the book prior to the week it will be discussed. The books can be purchased in book shops or borrowed from public libraries.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Writing YA fiction, in January; HW132 is one possibility. Speak to your teacher about alternative progression routes.

Aall students are invited to join us at Late Lines, our regular performance night for Build writers. Students are also encouraged to submit their work to Between the Lines, our annual anthology of creative writing. For the latest news, courses and events, stay in touch with the Department on Facebook and Twitter.

General information and advice on courses at Build is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details


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Reviews below are by students who have attended this course, regardless of the course teacher. Please be aware you may not be booking onto a course with the same teacher.

This is a perfect course to provide an overview of middle grade writing and current trends. There is an opportunity to analyse what works for this age group, to identify the pitfalls, and to focus on the nuts and bolts of writing e.g. planning, viewpoint, dialogue, beginnings and endings. The tutor is experienced, very knowledgeable and provides considered careful feedback on individual submissions. Very stimulating and highly recommended.
Course Rating
Review by Anon / (Posted on 06/12/2018)
Tutor Biographies
We’re sorry. We don’t have a bio ready for the tutor of this class at the moment, but we’re working on it! Watch this space.

Book your place

Course Code: HW131

Thu, day, 26 Sep - 05 Dec '19

Duration: 11 sessions (over 11 weeks)

Full fee: £179.00
Senior fee: £179.00
Concession: £72.00

Or call to enrol: 222-66-889-99

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Any questions? [email protected]
or call 020 7492 2717

Please note: we offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. For more information visit our online Help Center. You can also visit the Information, Advice and Guidance drop-in service, open from 12 – 6.45, Monday to Friday.