Writing Fictional Children

Room 2209, Kansas City Convention Center, Street Level
Friday, February 9, 2024
1:45 pm to 3:00 pm


Children have so much narrative potential. They see the world with fresh eyes, use language in fascinating ways, and often feel more deeply than adults who have been desensitized to the injustice and heart-break of our world. At the same time, children are easy characters to flatten and idealize, and they change on a different time scale than adults do. How do we write dynamic, authentic, fully-fleshed-out children? This panel will discuss strategies for writing strong fictional children.



Marisa Crane is a multigenre writer whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in Lit Hub, Joyland, Passages North, the Adroit Journal, The Sun, The Offing, and elsewhere. They are the author of the novel I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself, which was a January Indie Next Pick and NYT Editors’ Choice.

Kai Harris is a writer and educator from Detroit whose critically acclaimed debut novel What the Fireflies Knew was longlisted for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize and nominated for an NAACP Image Award, amongst other honors. Kai is a creative writing professor at Santa Clara University.

Rachel Yoder is the author of Nightbitch, which was selected as an Indie Next Pick, best book of the year by Esquire and Vulture, and finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction and VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. With cofounder Mark Polanzak, she edits draft: the journal of process.

Jacinda Townsend is the author of the novels Mother Country (Graywolf, 2022), winner of the Ernest Gaines Award, and Saint Monkey (Norton, 2014), winner of both the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize and the James Fenimore Cooper Prize. She teaches at Brown University.


February 7–10, 2024
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Convention Center