Master Course

What is the Master Course?

This is an intensive self-guided workshop on the eight Core Principles of picture book writing and editing.

  • Intensive: you will receive over 100 pages worth of content to read and apply as you write or revise your manuscript.
  • Self-guided: each week you will receive a packet with an in-depth explanation of the relevant Core Principle and a related worksheet. Once you receive the materials, you can work at your own pace in applying them.
  • Workshop: you will be expected to apply the principles you are learning to the study of other picture books as well as in revising your own work.
  • Core Principles: this program focuses on eight key principles that make-up the foundation of all good picture book writing. Each weekly lesson guides you through one of the Core Principles in a detailed and comprehensive manner. At the end of the course you will understand when and how to use these principles to create your best work.

How is the workshop structured?

This workshop was developed combining years of research, writing and editing. The program is specifically designed to make it easy for you to grasp these concepts and immediately apply them to your work.

  1. Presentation. The Core Principle is introduced and explained. In this section you will receive in-depth and detailed explanations about the principle and why it works so effectively.
  2. Practice. The Core Principle is broken down and studied in three different picture books.
  3. Application: a Worksheet guides you to apply the Core Principle to your own manuscripts, analyzing what works and why, as well as identifying ways of improving your writing.

What are the Core Principles?

  1. Theme
  2. Story Structure (Plot-driven stories)
  3. Story Structure (Character-driven stories)
  4. World-building
  5. Character-building (Part 1: POV, Voice, Stakes, Agency)
  6. Character-building (Part 2: MRUs, Lies/Wants/Needs, Character Suffering)
  7. Showing vs. Telling
  8. Three Act Structures

Bonus: Writing Tips

Bonus: Revision Tips


“I’m so glad I found Karla’s class! It was broken down into appropriately sized pieces with one week to work through each concept before building on it the following week. There were a total of eight weeks and you can work at your own pace throughout, which was perfect for my busy schedule.  The lessons were easy to understand, but also thorough, with plenty of book examples to reinforce what she was teaching. This helped me to build a solid foundation on which to start my writing. Karla was easy to communicate with her and all responses were prompt to any questions that I had from start to finish. I went in with one manuscript (that I now realize needed A LOT of help) and came out with a much stronger story. It is now on to the next stages working with an editor to perfect before sending out on queries. In addition to this manuscript, I came out with three additional stories that are much farther along than they would’ve been if I didn’t have her instruction and the wonderful resources and links provided throughout the course. I recommend this class to anyone looking to get into writing children’s literature.”

—Dr. Sarah Blotevogel, children’s book writer

“Taking Karla’s master course was one of the most important decisions I’ve made along my writing journey. With picture books as examples, Karla gently guided me through eight core principles to a deeper understanding of what it takes to create a well-crafted story. Her explanations were easy to understand and implement. I anxiously anticipated Karla’s critiques that helped me apply what I was learning to my own manuscript and other works in progress. She has a gift for asking the right questions that took me deeper into my story. She made me think, look at my characters and story structure in new ways, and come to my own conclusions about how my story could be improved. This course is invaluable for all levels of writers. Without a doubt, Karla’s knowledge and encouragement have made me a better writer.”

—Rose Cappelli, children’s book writer

“If writing picture books was a college major, this class would be a requirement! Each of Karla’s eight lessons begins with a thorough description of a core principle, followed by examples that demonstrate it and homework that applies it. Though I had heard of many of these concepts before, I soon realized that I didn’t fully understand them. Thankfully, Karla was there every step of the way to guide and encourage me. She constantly challenged me to dig deeper and think critically about my own work, as well as the work of others. For the first time in my life, I began to understand what makes a picture book work and why. I had countless ah-ha and light-bulb moments where things finally began to make sense. Rather than relying on instinct alone, I was given practical tools to utilize while writing and revising. In addition to the wealth of information provided in the class materials, Karla gave detailed and thoughtful feedback on each of my manuscript revisions that reinforced everything I was learning. Her knowledge, experience, and kindness shone through in every lesson, critique, comment, and email. No matter where you are on your journey, you will benefit from this class.”

Becky Scharnhorst, children’s book writer

“I learned about Karla Valenti’s master course through a critique member. When I heard her positive reviews I was interested. As I witnessed her manuscript transform I became resolute. I registered for the workshop with high expectations. Karla surpassed them. Her course is well-crafted and superbly executed. Clients learn from trusted sources in the kidlit field, exemplary mentor texts, as well as one another through a private online support group. Karla is available at every turn with resources, strategies and encouragement to help you become a more compelling writer. She is generous with her feedback and is committed to helping you develop a deeper understanding of the core principles as well as your manuscript. She challenges writers to think critically and provides honest feedback to assist in re-envisioning their work. At the same time, she emphasizes the importance of remaining true to your voice and passionate about your work. The self-guided nature of the course permitted me time to delve into the materials to acquire a complete understanding and make thoughtful revisions. Writers have a lot of choices for where to invest their time, effort and money as they develop their writing craft. Karla’s course is worth every minute, struggle and penny. I am applying what I learned to new manuscripts already, and continue to benefit from the online group. I will continue to utilize her critique services for her expertise and ardency.”

Jennifer Fier, children’s book writer

“This is an excellent course – well-structured, in-depth and informative.  Even if you are not a beginner but just want to hone your writing, Karla’s patience, passion and knowledge prove invaluable, especially in her generous personal critiques, which I cannot recommend highly enough.  Her source materials and her always up-to-date references and links can be referred to again and again.  I can only speak for myself, but I believe my writing has profited from her wisdom and the tools she has provided me with, and it will continue to do so.”

Fiona Halliday, children’s book writer

“I recently finished taking Karla Valenti’s Picture Book Master Class with the mentoring component. I highly recommend this practical course to move your writing to the next level. Karla included the reasoning behind each Core Principle, how to put the concept into practice, examples from picture books, and application of the concept first in other picture books, and then in my own manuscript. She presented the content in an engaging, fun style. Karla’s knowledge and experience shined through in the eight lessons (plus a bonus week). Even though I’ve taken other seminars and webinars in my writing journey, much of what Karla offered was new, a new spin on something I had learned before, or a deepening of the concept. Karla also had a unique way of explaining concepts that clicked for me. The course progressed in an interesting sequence that came together at the end in a satisfying and surprising way. The mentoring aspect of the course was phenomenal! If you are signing up for the course, make sure to include the mentoring part. Every week, Karla provided detailed, specific recommendations to move my manuscript forward. She taught through her comments with elements of theory, explanations, and specific examples. I found Karla to be generous with her time and talent, honest but kind, and a consummate professional. Although I’m sad for the course to end, I am now applying the lessons (which I housed in a binder) to my other works in progress. The manuscript I used throughout the course transformed beautifully into a solid piece with more emotional resonance. I’m so glad I invested in Karla’s Master Class.”

Jennifer L. Raudenbush, children’s book writer

“Even agented writers will benefit from Karla’s Master Course, which breaks down everything you’ve ever wanted to better understand about the crafting of picture books, their structure, their mechanics, and what makes them more (or less) powerful to a reader. Karla has condensed a wealth of information into bite-sized, manageable steps that one can work through at his/her leisure. I was thankful to see her clarify concepts that (1) are not generally discussed or (2) had never been 100% clear to me before. Naturally, when it comes to any course, nothing beats one-on-one tutoring. Karla remains accessible to learners throughout the course, answering questions and providing a private support group where any course topics can be discussed. Her coursework remains very hands-on, not only showing you how to analyze picture books in the current market, but also how to apply each principle to your own work-in-progress.”

Katelyn Aronson, children’s book writer

“In Karla’s class, students receive instruction on theme, structure, character development, world building, and marketability (to name a few), and learn how to view their manuscripts through an editorial lens. Karla’s direct and practical lessons are full of helpful advice, and are perfect for beginning and intermediate writers or anyone who wants to hone their craft. She also offers a one-on-one coaching package, which includes the Master Course plus eight manuscript critiques. Karla’s critiques are razor sharp, insightful, and extremely helpful and have proven incredibly valuable to me as I pursue publication.”

Becky Shillington, children’s book writer

“If you are new to picture book writing, Karla Valenti’s Picture Book Master Course is an excellent place to start. Karla covers eight core principals of picture book writing in a clear and concise method. She gives examples using published works to clarify each principle. She also provides worksheets and homework that will walk you through writing a picture book or editing already completed works. The course is easy to understand and the pace is very doable for busy writers. The course offers an optional mentoring component as well as a private Facebook group.”

Alayne Kay Christian, children’s book writer and Picture Book Writing Teacher