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How to Write a Novel: Edit & Revise

The University of British Columbia via edX

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Overview

Experienced writers understand that novels improve incrementally with each draft. This course teaches the skills of revision and the attention to detail it takes to make a good story great.

Do you have a complete rough draft of a novel? Do you know it needs more work, but are unsure what to do next? Bestselling authors and professors from The University of British Columbia’s renowned MFA program will guide you through a rigorous self-editing and revision process, a stage of manuscript development all successful writers undertake.

The trend in global publishing is toward outsourcing the editorial process. More and more, publishers are looking for that elusive “finished” draft, placing the burden on writers to take their work to that next level. Learn the necessary skills to polish your novel and better position you in today’s highly competitive and fast-moving publishing marketplace.

In this course we’ll explore the editorial process from macro to micro. From a far-reaching analysis of the three journeys every novel must take (internal, external, aesthetic) to a tight focus on the rigorous choices associated with prose style, learners will hone critical skills and develop a rewriting plan tailored to the needs of their individual projects.

Through self-evaluation and discussion with fellow writers, learners will build an autonomous writing practice and discover a community of peers familiar with the challenges and aspirations of novel writing.

This course is recommended for professional and aspiring writerswho have completed or almost completed a rough draft of a novel, especially those who have taken How to Write a Novel: Structure & Outline and How to Write a Novel: Writing the Draft.

Syllabus

Every Week

Learners will read writing examples, watch instructor videos and view interviews with authors, editors and agents. Each week will include at least one assignment, a discussion topic and instructor feedback on learner questions during live office hours on Google Hangouts.

Week 1: Preparing to Rewrite

We’ll discuss rewriting looks like and what types of rewriting you’ll go through in the process of taking your novel from first draft to something complete enough to send to agents and editors including:

  • The substantive edit
  • The line edit
  • The copy edit

 

Week 2: Rewriting Tools: Structure

The backbone of your novel, structure is essential to making sure that your story is coherent, compelling and satisfying. Rewriting is a chance to look at your structural choices an a careful and considered way.

This week’s topics include:

  • The Three Journeys of your Novel. 
  • Common Problems and how to Solve Them.

Week 3: Managing the Rewriting Process

We’ll review the actual process of rewriting, hearing from published authors who’ll discuss their own rewriting process.

This week’s topics include:

  • Rewriting for character and voice.
  • Dialogue and narrative voice.
  • Methods of rewriting.
  • Dealing with a daunting rewrite.

WEEK 4: Rewriting Tools: Prose Style

This week we move from the large scale to the small, and examine how writers revise at the paragraph and sentence level.

This week’s topics include:

  • Revising for cliché.
  • Exploring prose style options.
  • Revising for prose style.
  • Rewriting for theme.

Week 5: Working with Feedback

At some point, all writers benefit from thoughtful feedback on their writing.

This week’s topics include:

  • When to get feedback
  • How to choose trusted readers.
  • Assessing and incorporating feedback.
  • Mentorship.
  • The value of writing groups.
  • Writing programs: to MFA or not to MFA.
  • Writing conferences.

Week 6: Preparing to Submit

This week, we'll look at the materials you'll need to assemble to best present yourself and your work in the marketplace. Along the way, we'll hear writers talk about how they got started in publishing, as well as some popular misconceptions about the publishing industry. 

This week’s topics include:

  • Researching the market.
  • Understanding when your work is ready to send out.
  • Crafting a query letter.
  • Creating a synopsis.
  • The value of literary agents.
  • What agents look for in a manuscript.
  • The writer/editor relationship.
  • Rejection and success.
  • Indie publishing.

 

Taught by

Nancy Lee and Annabel Lyon

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