Building Heartfelt Stories and Rich, Authentic Characters with Newbery Winner Donna Barba Higuera

  • Saturday, April 15, 2023
  • 10:00 AM - 2:30 PM
  • The Writers' Studio at BARN, Class Code: WR041523DH
  • 1



What does “heartfelt” even mean? How do you write an “authentic” character?

About this Class

As writers, we're often told the thing missing from stories is “heart” or that the story needs to feel more “authentic.” This is quite often why agents and editors say "no" to a manuscript.

We each have lives full of unique life experiences. In this class, we use those experiences to gather heartfelt story lines for our own works in progress or new ideas. We explore our own memories and stories to create unique characters with the necessary emotional journeys for authentic characters that only you can write. We also ask questions to help you discover the elusive part missing from most stories.

When completed, you will have the heart of your story.


  • There will be a short break for lunch. BARN has a refrigerator and microwave on the lower level.

Class Policies


    Donna Barba Higuera is a New York Times bestselling author whose awards include the Newbery Medal, Pura Belpré Medal, the Sid Fleischman award, Crystal Kite Award, and PNBA Best Book of the Year - amongst others. She grew up in a tiny desert town in central California surrounded by agricultural and oil fields. Rather than wrangling dust devils, she spent recess squirreled away in the janitor’s closet with a good book. Her favorite hobbies were calling the library’s dial-a-story over and over again and sneaking into a restricted pioneers’ cemetery to weave her own spooky tales using the crumbling headstones for inspiration. ​Donna’s middle grade and picture books reinvent history, folklore, and her own life experiences into compelling storylines. She still dreams in Spanglish.She lives in Washington with her husband, four kids, three dogs, and a frog. You can read more about her books at

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