Week 1: Introduction & Common Basic Manuscript Issues
- A thorough exploration of what it means to conduct a developmental edit
- Why reading is so important, and how to read analytically
- Why you need to read fast, and how to do so without missing crucial information
Common Basic Manuscript Issues
- The two main ways authors mess up their beginnings
- Stylistic issues authors should avoid
- How to help authors prevent narrative disorientation
- What you need to know to help authors write impactful endings
Assignment: Read the extract provided showing the beginning of a novel. Analyse how effective it is (checklist provided for assistance) and write up a short report.
Week 2: Dealing with Tangled Plots & Saggy Middles
- The difference between plot and story
- Why you need to know the nuances of genre
- How to analyse a three-act plot arc
- How to recognise and make use of the eight basic plots
- How to assess sub-plots
Assignment: I’ll provide you with a selection of plot summaries of published novels. Identified the major plot points for each summary and answer a question or two about story structure. Complete up to three.
Week 3: Analysing Character & Conflict
- The main reason novels lack drive
- Why size matters (when it comes to the cast of the novel)
- Not all novels need a villain – here’s why
- Common dialogue problems to look out for
- How to recognise and advise authors when they use clichés
Assignment: Take one of your favourite novels (or something you’ve read recently). Describe the main character, their motivations and how they have changed by the end of the book. Describe the main antagonist and how they create conflict for the protagonist.
Week 4: The Common Thread – Meaning & Style
- Why a novel might lack coherence, focus or emotional impact …
- And how to help the author fix this
- Understanding the relationship between reader, writer and editor
- Things to consider about writing voice and style
- Course summary and next steps
Assignment: Identify the thematic questions of one of your favourite novels (or something you’ve read recently). How important was the theme? In which ways did the author explore the main themes?
BONUS: Novels in a Series
In this additional mini module, I’ll take you through how to think about novels-in-progress if they’re part of a series, since this will affect the kind of feedback you’d give an author.
SfEP Upgrade Points
If you’re a member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders, it would probably interest you to know that this course is recognised by the upgrade panel and is worth 3 points! Pretty sweet.
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