I signed up for a six-week on-line writing course to learn how to edit the first draft of my novel. Longstanding readers of this blog will be aware that my draft has been in a drawer for a long time. I have been busy in the meantime but I was aware I didn’t know how to proceed following the achievement of the first draft.
The course was called Self-Editing Your Novel run by The Writers’ Workshop. It required a payment, joining a website community and a commitment for six weeks. I tried and largely succeeded in giving an hour a day, six days a week for the six weeks. During that time I composed my own questions on each of the six themes, watched the weekly introductory videos, read the tutor notes, composed and posted my homework, read other people’s homework, commented on them, read comments on mine, and paying particular attention to the tutors’ comments on my homework.
The tutors were Emma Darwin and Debi Alper. They demonstrated sensitivity, encouragement, critical commentary, suggestions, occasional ticking off, generosity, as well as deep knowledge and understanding of the processes of novel writing and editing. I am full of admiration for their skills in teaching these.
My aims have been achieved
These were my aims for the course (as reported on a previous post):
- √ To acquire the skills I need to move my novel on to the next stage.
- √ To practise these self-editing skills.
- √ To begin to identify the tasks and approaches I need to attend to to move my novel on.
- √ To identify specific tasks I need to undertake related to these aspects: plot, character, voice, point of view and prose.
- √ To connect with other writers through the Cloud who are involved in the same processes.
- √ To blog about the experiences at least once more.
I have learned a lot, not all of it comfortable, about myself as a writer-learner (see my second post on progress). The on-line context became irrelevant once I found my way around.
I have learned a great deal about the process of editing, in each of the 5 categories:
- voice, point of view,
- psychic distance and
I have ways of thinking about each of these now, and some activities that will help me see if large-scale revisions are required. I have a notebook full of things to attend to. We were advised not to try to revise our WIP during the course, so these had to be noted down for later. And here we are at ‘later’.
I learned about the power of the group, how encouragement, comments, reactions, questions from others can nudge, push and force writer-learners to see their WIP in new ways.
And I learned about the stimulating, inventive and creative ideas of my fellow novelists.
And while I’ve been learning…
… I have been getting on with blogging, meeting my fellow authors on our non-fiction book for a three day write-in, reading 9 novels, publishing some short fiction (see previous post on this), getting ready for two events to promote Retiring with Attitude, and attending a workshop where I learned how to make a red felt hat. This one!
I have a plan. Better than any of Baldrick’s plans.
It includes completing the revision of my novel by the end of August when I am due to go on a trip abroad. I will revise it to the level where I feel a professional critique would be the best next step. So not finished then.
To Emma Darwin, Debi Alper, The Writers’ Workshop website and my fellow participants.
Previous posts about this course.
What has been your best learning from writing courses? Can you say what helped make it a good learning experience? Would you recommend the course to others?
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