Young Adult Fiction First Pages with Laurel Symonds

October 24th, 2022 - November 18th, 2022

with Laurel Symonds

Group started

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

Laurel's YA tastes lean commercial with a special interest in contemporary, historical fiction, and genre-blending fantasy. She looks for engaging voices, commercial hooks, and immersive worlds. 

How it works

You'll submit your pages at the group start, then spend the next weeks critiquing peer stories. Laurel 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 Laurel 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 - Young Adult - 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 Laurel Symonds

Laurel Symonds launched as a literary agent at The Bent Agency in Fall 2018 after nearly a decade of experience in the publishing industry. She began her career in the editorial department of HarperCollins Children’s Books/Katherine Tegen Books in New York City and has also held positions in the marketing department at a small publishing house, in a library, and as a bookseller at one of the nation’s best independent bookstores. As a literary agent, she is seeking children’s fiction and nonfiction, from picture books to young adult, particularly focusing on voices that have previously been underrepresented and stories that have been overlooked.

What Laurel is looking for in YA:
Laurel's YA tastes are generally commercial with a great hook. She has a special spot in her heart for YA fantasy and she's currently keen for contemporary, especially voice-y romcoms.

Laurel's Approach to Critiques:
"My critique style is straightforward and honest, balanced with encouragement and the tools to address areas that could be improved upon. I generally focus on the bigger picture issues in my notes with inline comments within the manuscript used to point out specific places to address those issues or spots where craft could be stronger."


Mon, Oct 24th - Submissions due
Fri, Nov 11th - Critiques due
Mon, Nov 14th, 4-6pm ET - Debrief call on Zoom
Fri, Nov 18th - Group officially closes.