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     Syllabus for Online Course
"Editing The Novel"

Given By

Editor and Publisher

Bonnee Pierson                    bonneebw.gif (71006 bytes)


Silke Juppenlatz


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Textbook Assigned for Editing the Novel. 
The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes : (And How to Avoid Them)

by Jack M. Bickham
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Assignment 1

Read and critique Example 1 (Alien Master by Jacqueline Lichtenberg)  by Sunday, 3/12.  I'm giving them an extra week because two day ain't a helluva lot of time. <g>

Things to look for:  characterization -- 
                            Are the characters "real"?
                            Plot -- well-established and believable?
                            Setting - too much or not enough?
                            Writing -- is the technique smooth and understandable?

That's a good beginning.  I'd like to meet with everyone by 3/12 to discuss what they found in the partial.  If they can't make it, post a note to the Writers-L list and we can converse there.


Assignment 2:

 I'm going to get Greg to also post his editing form. I want you to read the first chapter of Example 2 by Anne Marie Olsen.  Then read the form and read the chapter again.  Answer those questions and score it. In the meantime, this week, I'm going to edit the chapter. I'm going to show you what I do. Then it might make more sense. We're going to talk about what we've read. I'll tell you what I see and then I'm going to show you how I'd take this chapter and make it more presentable. Make sense?


Assignment #3:  You have 3 weeks to accomplish all this.  

1. After rereading the class logs, read Chapter One of Example #2 with Bonnee Pierson's editorial suggestions showing.

2. Read Chapter One of Example #2 with Bonnee Pierson's editorial suggestions accepted into the text.  

3. Read the whole text Example #2 to the end, using Greg Anderson's Form to evaluate the whole story.

From Classlog: "Let's get the whole thing and simply read for plot problems, continuity, etc. The BIG picture! We can break things down from there. Think you can read it all in two weeks? We'll use Greg's form again to address the entire book. Just read for concept, plot, characterization. The big picture. We won't push her regarding the small stuff. Simply ignore qualifiers, etc."
"Fill out Greg's form and then we can get together and chat about what we found."

4. Read Born of Fire by Sherrilyn Kenyon as assigned in the class log.    

5. Use what you've learned from reading the textbook for this course to evaluate both Example 2 and Born of Fire.   

" . . . the textbook will show you what to look for (I haven't referred to it much).  But it's my handbook when dealing with submitters."

6. Attend Class #7 on April 23, 2000 prepared to discuss all of the above.  

Assignment #3 will actually be easy.  Read both files.  We have almost three weeks to get this done, so reading the content of two books shouldn't be a problem.  Take Greg's editing summary form and fill that out for both assignments.  Then, to make this harder, I want you to apply what you've learned in terms of analyzing a story and give me a complete breakdown of your opinion in written format.  Not just the question-and-answer, but freehand prose covering all the points in Greg's form as well as stating your personal opinion.   Regardless of how much we try to be objective when reading a novel, there's no way to eliminate the personal element.  So I want to read a breakdown of what makes these books good or bad, why would you buy them or not and, if you see places where you'd ask for rewrites, explanation and justification.  As I covered in the meeting, there's no way to get around the "why", so here's your chance to tell me why a book works for you or doesn't work.  Time to apply all we've discussed in the past month or so.   Send all completed assignments  to editingcourse@simegen.com  .  The same goes for any questions and I'll do my best to guide you through this.   


Assignment #4: you have 2 weeks to accomplish this.

Choose either Upper West Side Story (an ebook) or GUILTY PLEASURES - (paperback). Use either piece for the work.  Read the novel in question.  Choose a small section of it.  Imitate that section (do not copy or plagiarize, imitate the writing style).  Write 1500 words or less all from a tight 1st Person Point of View, being sure to demonstrate the use of POV for plot-movement, characterization, and control of the reader's emotional identification with the character and AVOIDING using POV simply to feed information you can't figure out how to convey any other way.  

Enrolled students are to send homework to editingcourse@simegen.com as attached files, in html by Saturday May 27, 2000. 

Remember this is a course on editing, so in this exercise think like an editor most of the time.  But a writer is an editor and an editor is a writer.  The only difference is what you do first and what you do second. 

A writer first writes, then stands back and evaluates the result with an editor's eye, and sends herself back to rewrite, then again evaluates as an editor, etc. until the work is finished.  An editor first reads to evaluate it as an editor, then tries to figure out how a writer would fix the problems, and sends the writer back to rewrite, then reads again etc. until the work is finished.  Both jobs require both skills, which is why so many people (such as Fred Pohl for example) who have sold novels do a stint of years as an editor -- and then very possibly return to writing fiction to sell.  Other writers spend some years doing reviewing - which again uses the editor's skills as well as the writers'.  

For further reading and writing practice on integrating POV and Description see this Writing Workshop post.  

Read the Class Log for class #10.

Read Greg Anderson's Assignment #4.  

& Ann Marie Olson's Assignment #4

Read Greg Anderson's Assignment #4 rewritten

Read Jocelyn Stewart's Assignment 4

Discuss this on writers-l -- 

This process of rewriting to editorial preference will be the main focus of the Editing Circle.  

Study how working professionals go about this here