Middle Grade Fiction First Pages, with Deeba Zargarpur

August 1st, 2022 - August 26th, 2022

with Deeba Zargarpur

Group started

In this intimate workshop, you'll receive a written critique of your opening 15 pages (3750 words) from  Editor, Deeba Zargarpur at Simon & Schuster, plus get the opportunity to speak to Deeba individually in the live group call that follows critiques. You'll also exchange critiques within your group of up to 7 writers. 

How it works

You'll submit your pages at the group start, then spend the next weeks critiquing peer stories. Deeba 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 Deeba 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.

We are pleased to offer a workshop spot free of charge to a writer of color or from a traditionally marginalized background.


Who this workshop is for: This workshop is best suited for agented writers and writers who are querying or preparing to do so.

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. For graphic novels, participants can share up to 15 pages of script. 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 Deeba Zargarpur

Deeba Zargarpur is an editor at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and Salaam Reads. She works on a wide range of picture books, middle grade, young adult, and graphic novels. Her aim is to acquire commercial books that empower young people from diverse backgrounds. At heart, Deeba believes there is magic and adventure waiting around every corner and especially loves middle grade novels that inspire heartfelt imagination and mischievous creativity. Follow her on Twitter and IG at @deebazargarpur.

About Deeba's Critiquing Style: "When reading opening pages, I tend to focus on bigger picture elements and lead with these questions: is the promise of the premise clearly established, is the voice engaging and distinct, is there a strong sense of character when it comes to both main character and supporting characters? From there, I comment on smaller elements, like dialogue, exposition, and scene transition. But my main focus, especially in openings, is big picture as I find that to be most helpful for writers in the long term."


Mon, Aug 1st - Writers submit
Fri, Aug 19th - Written critiques due
Tues, Aug 23rd, 4-6 pm ET - debrief call on Zoom.
Fri, Aug 26th, group officially closes.