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The Basics and the Bold: Fundamentals of Editing Fiction and Creative Nonfiction

Semester and Year FA 2014
Course Number WRTNG-UG1019
Section 001
Instructor Barbara Jones
Days T
Time 6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
12:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Units 4
Level U



Book editors and agents find that a great variety of submissions (including novels, short story collections, memoir and narrative nonfiction) require precisely the same kinds of editorial attention. Learning to identify and attend to these ubiquitous weaknesses in concept, narrative and prose can lift a manuscript from the “no” pile to enthusiastic acceptance and, later, from lackluster publication to strong word of mouth and review attention. This class will focus on two kinds of editing that can address those frequent, genre-crossing manuscript problems: the bold—identifying and troubleshooting the bigger conceptual and structural problems, including the young writer’s frequent habit of not being bold at all; and the basics—sweating the small stuff by learning and using the tricks of an editor’s trade. Readings will include works by writers such as Jennifer Egan, Jeffrey Eugenides, Mary Karr, Laura Hillenbrand and others (models of successful basics and boldness), and student writings. Students will be expected to: 1) bring in one story, chapter of a novel, piece of memoir or narrative nonfiction that they have written, 2) edit (including a line edit and an editorial letter) and 3) revise their own piece of writing in response to editorial feedback from the class.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Advanced Writing Courses (WRTNG-UG)