The DE Detective: Using Sentence-Level Manuscript Clues to Track Down Developmental Problems, November 4-December 8 (4 weeks online) F19


Where: AsynchronousOnline (Sakai)

November 4, 2019

Registration is closed for this class



When a novel manuscript has obvious problems, they’re, well, obvious. The overemphasis on backstory has slowed the pacing to a crawl, the POV hops from head to head, it takes three chapters for the actual story to start.

This class is about going beyond the obvious. Students should have taken at least one developmental editing course or have professional experience in developmental editing. We’ll polish our magnifying glasses and learn how to search the ms at the sentence level for clues about developmental problems. By this I don’t mean we’re going to do line editing or pretend to be copy editors. Instead, we’re going to use clues that pop up at the sentence level to understand the types of developmental problems a ms has—and to figure out the solution.

For example, an author who uses the word “because” a lot in a manuscript is likely to be overexplaining. This can lead to slow pacing, a feeling of the story being told rather than shown, and reader dissatisfaction because their role in figuring out what’s happening in the story has been stolen from them.

But be careful! The solution to a copyediting problem is often to delete or replace the problem word (or phrase/sentence). But that won’t work when you’ve tracked down a developmental problem. You have to dig a little deeper to figure out how to effectively crack the case. That’s what this class is about. This course focuses on the developmental editing of fiction.

*Note that this course will not meet during the week of American Thanksgiving (the week beginning November 25).*

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.”

A Note About the EFA's Online Courses

Our online courses are conducted through Sakai, a learning management system (LMS). You never need to be at your computer at any specific hour. More information about how these asynchronous classes are conducted is available here. Information on our refund policy is available here. All participants in EFA courses must abide by our anti-harassment policy, which you can find here.

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