Middle Grade Fiction First Pages with Alyson Heller

March 14th, 2022 - April 11th, 2022

with Alyson Heller

Group started

In this intimate workshop, you'll receive a written critique of your opening 15 pages (3750 words) from Senior Editor, Alyson Heller at Aladdin, plus get the opportunity to speak to Alyson 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. Alyson 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 Alyson 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. Apply by 02/22 https://inkedvoices.typeform.com/to/b7NQe8iV


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. 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

About Alyson Heller

Aly is an Executive Editor with Aladdin Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing. She joined the Aladdin team in 2008 after a two-year stint in the Simon & Schuster Associates Program. She has had the privilege of working with amazing authors and illustrators in the picture book, chapter book and middle-grade spaces, with a soft spot for contemporary middle grade fiction. On both the non-fiction and fictional side, she has a particular affinity for stories that represent the under-represented and stories that take on tough stuff in the middle grade space. You can find her on Twitter @EditorAlysonH.

Critique style: I usually focus on big-picture queries and notes in a larger letter, along with a document with in-line comments to point out things I loved, or things that might need a closer look/examples that support my general feedback. I believe that editing is a collaboration, and always look forward to dialogue about editorial feedback with authors and illustrators. My goal with my editing and critiques is not to discourage, but to inspire and get authors excited to make their work the best it can be.


Monday, March 14th - Writers submit
Sunday, April 3rd - Critiques due
Friday, April 8th, 4-6 pm ET - Debrief call.
Tuesday, April 11th - Group officially closes.