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

Semester and Year SP 2018
Course Number WRTNG-UG1019
Section 001
Instructor Barbara Jones
Days M
Time 6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
Units 4
Level U



Editors and literary agents often find that a great variety of creative writing submissions (including novels, short story collections, memoirs and works of narrative nonfiction) require a relatively limited stock of editorial tools. Learning to identify the most common writing troubles and to use tools to relieve those troubles can lift a manuscript from the rejection pile to the acceptance pile and, later, from lackluster publication to strong word of mouth and review attention. This class will focus on two kinds of frequent manuscript problems: 1) 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 2) 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 Susan Minot, J.D. Vance, Celeste Ng, Marlon James and others (models of successful basics and boldness), and student writings. Students will be expected to learn a common list of writing troubles and a common list of editorial tools; to read and edit work by their fellow students; to bring in one piece of their own fiction, memoir or narrative nonfiction, and to edit that piece of work in response to feedback.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Advanced Writing Courses (WRTNG-UG)