The Golden Egg Academy is led by Imogen Cooper, former Head of Fiction for Chicken House Publishing. They have a close relationship with Barry Cunningham (famously, the finder of J.K. Rowling) at Chicken House with whom they have a ‘first look’ agreement.

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In my post of 19th Dec 2016, I expressed my delight at being accepted on the inaugural Golden Egg Foundation Year which began in January 2017. I am now in my second term and loving every minute of it!

The Foundation Year was added to precede the Academy programme. It’s designed to help writers finish manuscripts they’ve started or re-draft and improve manuscripts they have already finished. It teaches the nuts-n-bolts of the craft. Academy students all have completed manuscripts that they are perfecting and learning to pitch to agents and publishers. My hope (and, I am sure, the hope of my fellow students) is to finish my work-in-progress before the end of the third term so that I can get a full appraisal of my story and, hopefully, be accepted into the Academy next year.

In the first term we looked closely at identifying the central spine and theme of a story while looking at the current market and what publishers are interested in. This helped everyone take a good look at their work in progress and to consider critically if the spine of their story and theme were clear enough. We all beavered away progressing our stories, re-writing and reporting to each other at the weekly Facebook group meetings. Everyone chats about how they are getting on and we encourage and help one another in our own private Facebook motivation group. Trust me, it’s a REALLY nice place to be! A 1-2-1 with my fab editor, Emma Greenwood at the end of the term really helped me think about my story and how to make it better. Not only did I cut flab from the start of the story to get it moving more quickly, I also re-wrote the first 14,000 words to switch it from first person to third!

Now, in term two, we are looking much more closely at mapping our stories and using the ‘Golden Egg Story Foundation Sheet,’ a mapping tool similar to the well known Blake Snyder ‘beat sheet’. It helps us writers to consider more deeply how our story arcs move and change and the craft that goes into moulding a tale in a way that creates a fantastic ride for the reader. We’ve even been drawing graphs to help us visualise the ups and downs of how stories work! Maths has never been more fun!

I have also been working on making my prose more visceral, and thinking hard about what motivates my protagonist’s actions which, in turn, drive the plot at key points on the beat sheet. All thanks for my new-found (fledgling!) ability to see and address what’s important in a story goes to Emma at Golden Egg for whom my gratitude is boundless.

Before the course started, I had self-published two middle grade humorous adventure stories, both of which have been well received by readers and reviewers. But there’s is no doubt that the Golden Egg Foundation Course has really helped develop my appreciation of what is needed to craft a story of real quality that can draw upon primal themes. I am learning how to take my writing to the next level.

One major benefit of being in the nest is that Golden Egg have contacts and access to people who can say ‘yes!’ The Academy has a strong reputation for producing work of high quality. Anyone emerging from the nest will benefit from that reputation. In a business which is fiercely competitive, the help that the Golden Egg reputation may give an aspiring ‘egg’ is very welcome indeed. The Academy can help get you noticed.

If anyone reading this post truly wants to write for children and to, one day, see their book on a shelf in Waterstones or, better still, in the hands of a young child (rather than an Xbox controller!) then the Golden Egg Foundation Year is an amazing place to start. Unparalleled, professional guidance from people ‘in the know’ who know people.

And, what’s more, you’ll make some fab new friends who may well join you on your writing journey for many years to come.

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