Questions about the Cyber Summer Workshop?
We are happy to chat any time! To help you out, we compiled these answers to the most common questions we get from families after reading through the Cyber Summer Workshop event page.
Eligibility to Attend
We don’t require students to have finished the course before attending. That said, the more your student has done of the course, the more he or she will benefit from the sessions and critique group time. The course gives students a “shared language” for talking about their stories, and some sessions are designed as extensions of the principles taught in the course videos.
Our recommendation is that if the student has not started the second half of the course (the part where students write the rough draft), it may be better to wait a year, unless the student has already finished a novel before starting OYAN.
If you decide to register a student who won’t reach Part Two before the workshop, please have the student bring the short scenes from the outlining stage (see workbook lessons 6–8, 10–12, 15, 18, 23–24, 29–30, 33, 37–39). This way the student will have writing to share.
I don't understand why my student can't attend just because we don't have a license for OYAN. Could you explain your policy?
Unlike many other writing events for young writers (and events for older writers, for that matter), our workshop is designed as an extension of the instruction in the course. This is one of the special features of the workshop: that students arrive with a shared foundation, and often know each other already from interacting on our Student Forum.
We would be thrilled to have your student join us if you decide to invest in a licensed curriculum set.
We license the way we do precisely because of the interactive and immersive nature of the course. The One Year Adventure Novel is not just the physical materials in the set; it is also access to quality ongoing support resources. These include access to workshops, the online Student Forum, participation in contests, and monthly webinars on writing topics.
I read that siblings 13 or older must register as a student. One of my student's siblings is 13+ but isn't interested in writing fiction and probably won't ever use this course. Can you make an exception?
Please email email@example.com or give us a call at 1-888-481-4550 so we can discuss your exact situation. We do sometimes make exceptions in cases like this but you need permission directly from the Workshop Coordinator.
We would be happy to discuss this with you by email or phone, but the short answer is that while there is presently no upper age limit for the Summer Workshop, most students are 13–22 years old, with a few in their mid-twenties. The “tone” of the event might be “too young,” and we would need to discuss whether a critique group would really be a good idea.
The One Year Adventure Novel course itself is very beneficial for adults of all ages, but you would probably have a better experience at a workshop designed for more mature adults.
The Cyber Summer Workshop is held via a password-protected web page which we call the Portal. We will email details for signing in to the Portal shortly before the workshop. Just make sure to keep a copy of this email.
All of the speaking sessions, Critique Groups, Mentor sessions, and additional student activities will occur on Zoom. You’ll want to make sure to have Zoom downloaded on your device prior to the workshop.
Download the Zoom application >
Choose the first download option, “Zoom Client for Meetings.” If you plan to watch on a smartphone, you will need to download the Zoom app. (Should you have any problems, simply call 1.888.799.9666. A Zoom technician will help you resolve any technical issues. Problems are normally because of a missing plugin.)
We don’t divulge our session topics beforehand (we’re writers—we like suspense!), but we are happy to offer this cool PDF of session blurbs from years past, so that you can get a better feel for what the teaching at Summer Workshop is like!
The One Year Adventure Novel curriculum is nonsectarian, and is approved for purchase with public funding. It is a writing program, not religious instruction. However, the instructor himself is a Christian, and everything taught in the course is compatible with a biblical worldview. The workshop speakers come from a Christian perspective; and some of the teaching sessions may include Christian themes and/or references.
Being a Christian is not a requirement for attendance, and the focus of the event is on writing, but this workshop may not be the best fit if you are not comfortable with Christian themes or relevant expressions of personal faith being woven into some of the speakers’ talks.
We will provide instructions before the workshop begins for sending your excerpts to your critique group.
Please remember that your novel must be free of offensive content (especially of a sexual or gratuitously violent nature). While we respect the right of authors to create honest stories, we also respect the right of readers to retain their innocence. We therefore reserve our right, exercised through the critique group leader, to not include discussion of any novel deemed to be offensive to a general audience.
Each critique group has an appointed leader. We choose leaders on the basis of maturity, leadership ability, and experience with critique groups. All the leaders have been to at least one Summer Workshop and are 18 or older.
The leaders have to attend an online training meeting beforehand, in which we explain our expectations and go over concerns, such as how to gently intervene if a student brings writing that is upsetting or inappropriate, and how to proceed if a student is harsh toward others or becomes upset.
But lest these reassurances give you the impression that critique groups are challenging to supervise, let us further assure you that they are actually a lot of fun, and students consistently report being very happy with their experience! We think part of this can be attributed to how hard our staff works to put together groups with common interests, and a balance of ages and gender.
My student is very anxious. Can I accompany my student to Critique Group sessions for moral support?
Writing is very personal, and it can be scary for young writers to share their work with others. It makes sense that your student might prefer your presence during their critique group sessions. However, we need to consider the rest of the students as well. We have found that the other students are intimidated by the presence of an adult they don’t know listening in. They do not share their thoughts as freely.
We choose critique group leaders who are good at reassuring students and making the group time fun and non-threatening. They monitor the feedback students give each other to make sure it is both helpful and respectful.
It is our view that it will turn out better for your student and for the group as a whole if the student joins the group on their own and faces their anxiety. We consistently receive happy feedback from students once they discover that critique groups are fun, not frightening.
Although we see critique groups as a vital part of the Summer Workshop experience, we do not force students to participate. If the student is very set against it, please email us and request to be exempted. Please let us know before June 1. Our staff spend many hours putting groups together with an eye to age, gender, and affinity. If a student will not be participating, we need advance notice.
Can I bring something besides the specific chapter recommendations? Do the excerpts have to be from an "OYAN novel"?
As we state on the Cyber Summer Workshop webpage, we recommend that the four excerpts you bring come from the four key chapters of your novel: the Inciting Incident, Embracing Destiny, The Black Moment, and The Showdown. However, if you don’t have an “OYAN novel” in progress right now, or you don’t have these key scenes/chapters ready, you may bring different fiction excerpts. It’s more important that you bring something you need help with than to scramble to bring something that fits the recommendation list but would not be of much help to you.
Please do not bring poetry, fan fiction, or screen plays to the Summer Workshop.
If you have any questions or concerns about what to bring, just send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org about your situation, and we will be happy to help you figure out what would be best.
PLEASE NOTE that ALL excerpt content must be in keeping with the content policy:
Your novel must be free of offensive content (especially of a sexual or gratuitously violent nature). While we respect the right of authors to create honest stories, we also respect the right of readers to retain their innocence. We therefore reserve our right, exercised through the critique group leader, to not include discussion of any novel deemed to be offensive to a general audience.
My student wants to experience a critique group, but doesn't want to share his/her writing. Is this an option?
If you agree with your son or daughter’s self-assessment about attending without contributing excerpts, please have the student email email@example.com by June 1. We need to know in advance so that we don’t inadvertently create groups with more than one student in this category.
If you are unsure about what would be best for your student, we would love to talk with you about your concerns so we can come to the best possible decision for your student.
Mentor Appointments are 20-minute appointments held Tuesday through Friday during the afternoon critique groups.
During these appointments, students talk one-on-one with the mentor. They can practice pitching their novel, ask questions, or discuss anything else related to writing. We will provide the Mentor Appointment scheduled along with the mentors’ Zoom links on the password-protected Portal page. Access to the Portal page is given to registered students shortly before June 21.
Mr. S. does not do Mentor Appointments. He does more speaking at the Summer Workshop than any other speaker, so he does not have enough time. He looks forward to dropping in on Critique Groups and connecting with students in the Zoom breakout rooms.
I read that parents are not allowed to accompany students to a Mentor Appointment. But my student is scared/I have questions of my own to ask about how to help my young writer. Can an exception be made?
Our goal for Mentor Appointments is to offer a non-intimidating way for young writers to learn how to talk to industry professionals. We want students to talk to the mentor one-on-one because this is the best approximation of what a “real” appointment would be like. The mentors are not scary, and they know to expect the student to be nervous and unsure.