Intermediate Developmental Editing of Fiction is an online class for editors interested in working with novelists to develop their work. This class is meant for editors who have done some fiction editing and are interested in honing their skills further. It is not intended for beginning editors. We’ll cover the more in-depth concerns of developmental editing, diving deeper into issues like perspective, subtext, and voice. We’ll cover issues that crop up often: intensive developmental editing, editing experienced authors, and working with manuscripts that need a combination of developmental editing and copyediting.
Week 1. Review of DE functions and exploration of voice and subtext. We’ll start with a brief review of the skills a good DE possesses and how to convey information through diplomatic queries and clear revision letters, then go right into an exploration of how to help an author develop her voice. We’ll also get into more esoteric questions—how can we help authors use subtlety and subtext to convey information, action, and emotion? What the author leaves out can be as telling as what she puts in. Assignment: Performing a DE that solves plot problems without rewriting the author’s voice.
Week 2. Going deep. In this week, we’ll discuss how to solve problems that result from the author’s unwillingness or inability to go beyond the surface. For example, how to edit a writer who thinks—her heart hammered—is an effective way to communicate fear. We’ll dig deep into perspective and world-building (both of which can create show-don’t-tell problems). Assignment: Perform a DE that helps the author go deeper into perspective.
Week 3: Scene by scene. In this week, we’ll step back and look at how everything hangs together (or doesn’t) in a novel, dealing with the interplay of motivation, conflict, character development, and narrative arc. We’ll discuss what to do when a piece shows promise but has multiple problems, all of which negatively affect the work. We’ll cover how (and when) to provide an intensive developmental edit and what it means to prioritize edits. Assignment: Perform an intensive DE on a sample chapter.
Week 4. Working with the experienced novelist. In this week, we’ll discuss how to help an author who doesn’t make obvious beginner errors develop her writing. And we’ll cover what to do when an author needs a developmental edit and a copyedit rolled into one. Assignment: Do a DE on a sample chapter that does not have obvious errors but still has room to go from good to great.
Instructor Jennifer Lawler is the author or coauthor of more than 30 books, including a number of novels under various pen names. A former college English teacher—try not to hold that against her—she now works as a freelance writer and book development editor. She has worked as an acquisitions editor for a romance imprint and was once a literary agent. In her spare time, she teaches copyediting for the University of California–San Diego, even though she unfortunately lives nowhere near San Diego. She earned her PhD in medieval English literature from the University of Kansas and a black belt in Taekwondo at approximately the same time. She has not quite decided which has been more useful.
“Jennifer’s feedback was wonderful. As a freelancer I don’t get feedback often, so this was refreshing.”