EVENTS Marvellous Masterclasses 2018

SCBWI is running another series of marvellous London Masterclasses this year, aimed at writers and illustrators, both published and unpublished. Coordinators Alison Smith and Cath Jones talked to Words & Pictures Events Editor Fran Price about this year’s lineup. 

Firstly, what is a SCBWI Author Masterclass?

They are four-hour nuggets of children’s book publishing know-how delivered by authors, editors, and agents. The Author Masterclasses appeal to both authors and illustrators, whether you are published or not. Past Masterclass topics have included character motivation in picture books, Undiscovered Voices prep, how to write funny stories for all age ranges, and writing for the non-fiction market.

Who are they aimed at?

Anyone interested in writing for children!

What is on in 2018?

We have a great lineup of four Masterclasses, two of which are sold out already. So if you are interested in the ones in March and September, get booking!

Saturday 17th March – WRITING YOUNG SERIES FICTION: Plotting, planning, and what publishers want, with Paula Harrison

How to create fiction for ages 5-9, including plotting and planning your idea, and a discussion of what publishers are looking for.

A selection of series fiction at a 2017 Masterclass. Picture credit: Fran Price

The Masterclass will cover how to create a standout chapter book idea; how to plot and plan out your series; how to present your series to an agent or publisher; how to keep your series going over a number of books; what kinds of things publishers are looking for and whether the market is changing; and how to promote your young chapter book series after publication. There will also be short exercises on plotting. It will be a fun, informal day with questions encouraged throughout.

Paula Harrison is a million-selling author with three chapter book series and five middle grade novels published. She is best known for The Rescue Princesses, a 12-book series about a team of princesses that rescue animals. Paula will share her experiences and talk about what has worked for her. Book here.

Saturday 5th May – PICTURE BOOK FOCUS: Leave it out: Keep your picture book word count down without losing the plot, with Michelle Robinson. SOLD OUT.

Piers Torday talking about character creation.
Picture credit: Alison Smith

Saturday 15th September – POETRY FOCUS: Striking a chord: using poetry to help your fiction sing, with Joseph Coelho

Poetry is at the heart of all language. A poetic line that strikes a chord, tugs at the heart strings, and leaves a mark does not just make a good poem, it makes for good writing full stop. Poet, playwright, and author, Joseph Coelho, will lead you through a highly practical session unearthing all the ways that poetry can help us bring our writing to life. Drawing on poetic techniques and different poetic forms, Joseph will demonstrate how an understanding and appreciation of how poetry is written can have a huge impact on all mediums, from picture books to non-fiction and beyond.

Joseph Coelho’s poems have been published in several Macmillan anthologies including Green Glass Beads, edited by Jacqueline Wilson. His debut children's collection, Werewolf Club Rules, illustrated by John O’Leary, is published by Frances Lincoln and was the winner of the 2015 CLPE CLiPPA Poetry Award. His latest collection, Overheard In A Tower Block, illustrated by Kate Milner, was a Sunday Times Book of the Week. Book here.

Saturday 20th October – FICTION FOCUS: What’s the Big Idea? with Linas Alsenas. SOLD OUT.

Where are they being held?

The Theodore Bullfrog Pub, first floor meeting room, 26-30 John Adam Street, London, WC2N 6HL.

What time?

All classes start at 12:00pm, with a break for lunch from 1pm until 1:30pm. Classes finish at 4:00pm. 

What’s the cost? 

£35 per class for SCBWI members, £42 for non-members. All prices include pre-ordered lunchtime food and an afternoon tea or coffee.

How can I book?

Places can be booked online at

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Alison Smith and Cath Jones at:

*Featured image credit: Fran Price.

Alison has been a volunteer co-coordinator of the Masterclasses with Cath, since 2013. Writing under her pen name of Ally Sherrick, her first middle grade historical novel, Black Powder, was published by Chicken House Books in August 2016.

Cath Jones is the author of quirky picture book Bonkers About Beetroot and lots of early and reluctant readers. She also writes junior and middle grade fiction.

Fran Price is the new Events Editor for Words & Pictures. Contact her at

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