Author and Illustrator Masterclasses!

2015-09-12 16.43.28Illustration Masterclass with Sam Arthur, Flying Eye Children's Books.


Book now for Masterclass Series 2017

Saturday 18th March PICTURE BOOK FOCUS: Marvellous Motivation – Is Your Character’s Motivation Crystal Clear? with Natascha Biebow

If readers are asking “so what?” after reading your story, your openings don’t really grab them, or your plot is sagging, the problem is probably that you haven’t asked your characters enough embarrassing questions.  Discover the five key things you need to ask to make creating memorable picture book characters and water-tight plots a piece of cake.

Natascha Biebow runs Blue Elephant Storyshaping, a coaching and mentoring service empowering writers and illustrators to fine-tune their work pre-submission.  Editor of numerous award-winning children’s books, with over 20 years’ experience, her favourite task is shaping stories.  She writes picture books and has recently been exploring creative non-fiction picture books and crafting a middle-grade novel.  She is the author of Elephants Never Forget (1995) and Is this My Nose? (2008), winner of the Bookstart Best Book for Babies.

Attendees should bring along at least one picture book manuscript or idea in progress. Included in the price, Natascha will provide feedback on one picture book text, provided this is submitted by the specified deadline. Book early to avoid disappointment!

Saturday 6th May – UNDISCOVERED VOICES PREP: Creating Fiction for Young Readers with Hook, Heart & Longevity

To encourage more SCBWI-BI writers to submit fiction for 5 to 8 and 7 to 9 year-olds, Catherine Coe, Sara Grant & Benjamin Scott – writers and editors of hundreds of books for these age ranges – will offer a masterclass in creating engaging stories for young readers. Whether you have a draft already or want to explore this type of fiction, come along for a tutorial crammed full of practical advice and useful tips to hook young readers.  For more information on Undiscovered Voices, visit


Catherine Coe, Sara Grant & Benjamin Scott are part of the volunteer committee that organizes Undiscovered Voices. Together they have written, edited or inspired hundreds of books for children and teens, including many well-known series for young readers: Rainbow Magic, Beast Quest, The Blossom Wood series, Star Fighters, Sea Quest, and Magic Trix. They are experienced editors as well as writers and all work with budding writers as consultants, mentors, university lecturers and volunteers. Visit their web sites for additional information:           


Saturday 16th September – PLOT AND STRUCTURE: Translation Software for Your Story – with Christina Banach

Based on the plot and structure techniques of bestselling writer James Scott Bell, coupled with Christina’s own experiences of applying his guidance when writing her young adult novel Minty, this seminar is suitable for the plotter, the pantser and everyone in between.

Using examples from Minty, and drawing from several well-known stories and films, Christina will analyse the elements of Bell’s famous LOCK system, provide a breakdown of the three-act structure, and clarify how this relates to Christopher Vogler’s work on mythic structure in screenwriting. She will highlight the importance of high stakes in your fiction, examine the various components of a scene, and explain how to create suspense and tension. She’ll also take a magnifying glass to beginnings, middles and endings, plus look at character arcs and how to keep your readers hooked into your story and longing for your next book. An intensive, informative and demanding class that will arm you with the tools to bring your writing to the next level. 

Christina Banach swapped a long and successful career in education for life as a full-time writer. She brings her vast experience of teaching both young people and adults to this writing masterclass. Christina is author of Minty, a young adult novel that was shortlisted for the SCBWI 2015 Crystal Kite award (UK & Ireland) and nominated for the 2014 CYBILS (the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards). The title was also named a Scottish Book Trust Teen's Book of the Month.  Christina’s next novel is, Coira, a young adult mystery set in the legendary village of Glencoe.

Saturday 21st October – FICTION FOCUS: Creating Characters to Care About – with Piers Torday

Characters are your story, but first we need to care about them. How do you write fictional characters, be they human or otherwise, that leap off the page? From story function to naming, voice to visual hallmarks, and that often problematic issue of character development, Piers will discuss different strategies for writing characters who live long in the memory after a book is finished. Children’s fiction is bursting with unforgettable heroes, villains and everything in between, but some of the precedents are different to adult fiction and this creates an opportunity for real imaginative invention. Bring existing characters who need work, or a blank space where there should be one – and some examples of your own favourite characters from children’s fiction.

Piers began his career in theatre and then television as a producer and writer. His first book for children, The Last Wild, was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Award and nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal. His second book, The Dark Wild, won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. The third book in the trilogy, The Wild Beyond, was published in 2015 to critical acclaim. His next book for children, There May Be a Castle, was published in October 2016.  The son of the late Paul Torday (author of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen), Piers recently completed his father’s final unfinished novel, The Death of an Owl (W&N). He has been a guest speaker on Writers & Artists and Arvon creative writing courses.

Class Information for 2017 Masterclass Series:

Venue: The Theodore Bullfrog Pub, First floor meeting room, 26-30 John Adam Street, London, WC2N 6HL

Time: All classes start at 12:00pm with a break for lunch from 1pm until 1:30pm.  Class finishes at 4:00pm.

*Except* The Undiscovered Voices Prep Class which starts at 1pm and runs to 5pm (lunch also included)

Cost: PRICES HELD FROM 2016!  £35 per class for SCBWI members, £42 for non members, £128 special SCBWI member discount when you book for four classes.  (All prices include pre-ordered lunchtime food and an afternoon tea or coffee.)


Places are limited and can be booked online at

All events are subject to change, but if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Alison Smith and Cath Jones at:

Please note that unfortunately we are unable to offer any refunds unless the Masterclass is cancelled.  The programme may be subject to change.