Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Novel Revision Retreat with Darcy Pattison

Loading Map....

Date(s) - 09/09/2016 - 09/11/2016
1:00 pm - 11:00 am

Christ The King Retreat House
500 Brookford Road - Syracuse, NY 13224


No Categories

The goal of the retreat is that every author will go home with strategies for revising their own particular novel. The retreat is designed for maximum participation and advance preparation is required.

Important! Please read all the way through the entire entry for valuable information.

If you would like to save $15.00 off the ticket price, please send a check written out to SCBWI in the amount of $375.00 to Kim Jakway, 718 Fay Road, Syracuse, NY 13219. You still need to register online even if you send a check. Just go though the registration up to paying with PayPal. Second Option: If you don't wish to stay the two nights and would like to go home and commute you can register as above, but send a check in the amount of $305.00. If I receive a check in this amount I will assume you are not staying overnight. 

Any questions or concerns that are not addressed here please send an email to:

The registration cost includes everything: lodging in private rooms (shared bathrooms) (unless you choose the second option) and meals (be sure to let me know of any food allergies you may have). This is a wonderful facility chock full of awesome rooms for small group discussions, writing time, reading time, and lecture time. They also have beautiful grounds for a quiet walk or writing, reading, and group time.

 Please be sure you can meet all of these requirements:

Requirements to attend:

1. You must have a completed draft of a novel (yes, a chapter book counts). You must have your completed manuscript in my inbox ( by July 29, 2016. There will be no exceptions.  This will give everyone six weeks to complete the required reading (see number 3 below for further details). Please name your file: Your last name, first name, title of piece. On first page of manuscript put your name, title of piece, type of work (i.e. YA novel, chapter book, Middle Grade novel, etc.), and word count. 

2.  You must agree to do pre-conference homework.

3. You must agree to read three other drafts of novels before the retreat. The group sessions are based on the assumption that you have read the other person’s novel. You are not required to critique the manuscript, but need to be familiar with the contents.

4. Other costs of attending: you must purchase (or take out from the library) and read two books:

Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King

The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman

and you’ll need four copies of your manuscript.

A workbook:  Novel Metamorphosis: Uncommon Ways to Revise accompanies lectures (will be provided). Brief lectures are followed by time to work on your own novel, then reinforced by group discussions.

Here is a tentative schedule. It may need to be tweaked once we get closer to the event:


1:00-3:00 Check in

3:00-5:15 Introduction and Inventory

5:30-6:30 Supper

6:30-7:30 Group Session

7:30-8:30 Scenes: Solid Structure

8:30-8:45 Break

8: 45-9:45 Group Session: Scenes



9:00-9:45 Plotting: Macro to Micro

9:45-10:15 Group Session: Plotting

10:15-10:30 Break

10:30-11:15 Characterization and Dialogue 

11:15-12:00 Group Session: Characters

12:15-1:30 Lunch

1:30-2:15 Clarity and Voice

2:15-3:00 Group Session: Voice

3-4:30 Free time to write

4:30-5:15 Where Are We? Setting

5:30-6:30 Supper

6:30-7:15 Adding Depth and Layers: Narrative Patterning

7:15-8:00 Group Session: Setting and Depth

8-8:15 Break

8:15 Special Event


9:00-9:45 Planning a Successful Revision

9:45-10:15 Group Session: Plan of Action

Check out by 11 am

Author Bio: 

Storyteller, writing teacher, Queen of Revisions, and founder of Mims House publisher, Darcy Pattison has recently been motivated by zombies (which helped her meet a goal of running a 5K) and chocolate (which keeps her marriage young). Always active, before her tenth birthday, she (almost) climbed the Continental Divide, turning back at the last 20 yards because it was too steep and great climbing shoes hadn’t been invented yet. Last year, she biked in Poland and hiked the Rockies. On her bucket list is kayaking the Nepali Coast, eating curry in Bombay, and catching a glimpse of a puma in South America.

   In 1999, she created the Novel Revision Retreat, which she has taught across the nation. Passionate authors at those retreats taught Darcy the power of story, and how an author’s passion can carry a career. Author of fiction and nonfiction for children and adults, her bio was twice rejected by Wikipedia because she failed to meet their standards of “Notability.” Let it be noted, however, that the bio was been resubmitted, this time with proper references as to her Notability and you can read it here:

   Translated into nine languages, Darcy has written about writing for many industry periodicals. Darcy served as Arkansas Regional Advisor for the SCBWI from 1991-96. In 1999, Darcy created the Novel Revision Retreat, which she teaches nationwide. Darcy is a member of the Author’s Guild. Awards include: Irma S. and James H. Black Picture Book Award Honor Book; twice her books have been named the National Science Teachers Association Outstanding Trade Books of the Year, and she’s the 2007 recipient of the Arkansas Governor’s Art Award for Individual Artist.

I thought you might be interested in reading comments from past participants about the retreat:

Inventory Session: 

“Maybe the most helpful part. From the moment I started filling the worksheet out, I knew I was in trouble.”

“I will use this tool for all projects.”

Plotting Sessions:

“Coming in, I had the book knowledge about plots, subplots, climax. . . but this workshop put it all into a working perspective. Something I could grab hold of. Exercises forced me to look at things I was avoiding.”

“It was a more enhanced description of plotting than I have ever seen.”

Sensory Details Session:

“Very helpful. I already thought I was employing sensory details, but now I have a clearer picture of what I need to be doing.”

“Excellent examples chosen to illustrate points. This is a piece of writing without good sensory details; this is a piece with good sensory details.”

“A jewel! I wish someone had explained ‘show don’t tell’ in terms of sensory details language.”

Characterization Session:

“I’m looking forward to using the checklists on all my characters.”

“Helped me give more dimension to weaker characters.”

Setting/Mood Session:

“Helpful because I learned to connect this to the characters’ emotional journey in a scene rather than just through something on the page.”

“Again–I learned to think of this in a new way.”

Specific Words Session:

“Helped me see beyond the meaning of words–a new concept.”

“Makes the story ring true.”

Narrative Patterning Session:

“This was excellent–deep, powerful, something I’ll always use now.”

“The narrative patterning, imagery and epiphany sections were especially wonderful. I’ve never met a writing teacher who was willing to tackle these head on.”

Imagery Session:

“Word list approach very helpful, real graphic. Something I can wrap my hands around. 

Overall Comments:

“As a whole–these exercises were brilliant because they helped me see how each aspect of novel writing connects to or is attached to the other.”

“The workbook is one of the most useful things I’ll take away.”

”You made things we already knew into a tool instead of a concept.”

“I think I’ll look back on this weekend as a turning point in my growth as a novelist. I wish we could do this every year!”

"My revised chapter has moved from nice to richer, deeper, funnier. And the finest part is that I feel so empowered – like I have the tools to make my writing the writing of my dreams, the writing I love to read. It is wildly exciting."