Middle Grade Fiction First Pages with Allison Hellegers

May 4th, 2022 - May 30th, 2022

with Allison Hellegers

Group started

In this intimate workshop, you'll receive a written critique of your opening 15 pages (3750 words) from literary agent Allison Hellegers of Stimola Literary, plus get the opportunity to speak to Allison individually in the live group call that follows critiques. You'll also exchange critiques within your group of up to 7 writers. 

Allison's tastes lean towards books that have emotional hooks mixed with strong plot, film/TV and/or translation appeal, and take the reader on a journey.

How it works

You'll submit your pages at the group start, then spend the next weeks critiquing peer stories. Allison will submit her notes near the critique deadline. After critiques are complete, we host a 2-hour group debrief, in which each writer gets 15 minutes of individual time with Allison to dig into feedback, brainstorm next steps, and discuss any writing questions. 

Our goal with these events is to help writers become stronger storytellers. That said, each opening pages event we offer also comes with a submission opportunity.

About the group workshop format

Participants should be sure they have at least 1 hour to give for critiquing each person's manuscript (plus reading time). Because this is a group of 7, this means you should have at least 6 hours available for your peers' stories.

This makes for an intense workload for the few weeks of peer critique. However, we've also found that this format accelerates learning because you are able to read a professional's feedback on each story you have read and critiqued, and you will listen to each one-on-one in the debrief. Many writers have told us that listening and learning from the professional's notes to others has been just as beneficial to their learning as the feedback on their own work.


Who this workshop is for: This workshop is best suited for writers querying, preparing to query, or who have an agent but are looking for a high level educational opportunity.

Focus: Children's - Middle Grade - Contemporary fiction - Children'…

Group size: 7 writers

Submissions: There will be one submission of your first 3750 words (approximately 15 pages) at the workshop start. Participants should also plan to share their pitch/short summary with their pages. Your pitch is not included in the word count and will not be critiqued.


Members: $105; Non-members: $127

We are pleased to offer a spot free of charge to a writer from a historically marginalized group. Applications for this scholarship have closed.

About Allison Hellegers

Allison (who also goes by Alli) received her degrees in Journalism and Women's Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After spending a semester abroad at the Sorbonne in Paris, she was thrilled when her jobs as Literary Scout and Foreign Rights Manager would take her back to France (among other countries). Alli also volunteered with the non-profit Girls Write Now, and empowering girls became one of the biggest drivers in her career. After working with the YA packager, Alloy Entertainment, Alli spent the last 10 years as Foreign Rights Director with Rights People. There, in addition to working directly with foreign publishers, she started to co-agent books for all ages on behalf of foreign publishers and agencies (international, British, and Australian) to represent projects back to the North American market. She continues to co-agent at Stimola Literary Studio, oversees the agency’s foreign rights, as well as selectively taking on clients of her own.

When I’m critiquing, my style is informal yet instinctive and intuitive. I’m looking for the heart of the novel, the set-up and the character arch of each character, how relationships in the novel change over time, and how the setting is adding to the story. I take notes as I go and sometimes leave comments that might help spark a writer to think more deeply about a scene or character. I include when I want more in a scene or interaction, I point out when I feel there is too much exposition, and when the writing is flowing and not flowing. Ultimately, I’m looking for momentum that will keep a reader hooked and turning pages. So asking questions and providing encouragement is usually how I try to help an author look at their work differently, so they can be aware of not only what they need to work on, but also what they are doing really effectively already.


Wed, May 4th -- Writers submit
Sun, May 22nd -- Critiques due
Thurs, May 26th, 4-6 pm ET -- Debrief call on Zoom.