Class Title: Self-Editing Before Submission
Instructor: Meg Dendler
Class Term: April 2-May 7, 2018
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This class will guide students through simple self-editing steps to help make their manuscripts more appealing to publishers and submission editors so their stories can make it past the first and second slush piles. Or if students plan to self-publish, knowing how to self-edit ahead of time can save money and time with an editor. From her own professional editing experience, Meg will discuss specific things to avoid and ways to check your own work for errors that might get your manuscript thrown out.
Students will be guided with examples of issues to avoid or correct in their writing focusing on punctuation, grammar, timeline, fact-checking, overuse of tags, and word repetition, among other issues that may be specific to the group of students working together. An online group will be set up so students can discuss their current WIPs and how the lessons directly apply to their manuscripts.
At the end of this class, students will have polished at least one manuscript and have it ready for submission to a publisher or ready to send to an editor before self-publication.
Instruction/Communication Method: A Google group hangout will be established for student communications, but email could also be used to chat privately and directly with Meg. Lessons will be presented in this hangout through two-hour "lecture" via prerecorded video (posted each Monday morning of class), discussion via live chat (for one hour on Monday evening), and ongoing chat through the week. Students can use the hangout to share work and ideas with each other and Meg between class sessions. Assignments, notes, and comments will all be posted through this hangout. Each student should have available a copy of The Chicago Manual of Style if possible since this is used in book publishing.
- Unit 1: Introduction and discussion of what happens in the submission process so students can understand how a publisher views their manuscript. Discuss checking timeline, fact-checking, and overall flow. Assignment will be to apply these to a WIP and make changes or find issues.
- Unit 2: General Grammar and Tense. What is allowed in dialog? Is it best to write in past or present tense? How to check sections for tense consistency and basic grammar errors to avoid will be discussed. Assignment will be to apply these lessons to the same WIP and make corrections. Group can discuss questions and concerns through the Google group or with the teacher by email.
- Unit 3: Punctuation. How many exclamation points can I use? Are semicolons good or bad? Why do I have to use serial (Oxford) commas when no one else does? Some of the biggest and most common errors will be discussed, and students will be guided through how to self-edit and look for errors in their own work.
- Unit 4: Overall Style and Formatting. How should I format for submission? What style errors should be avoided as far as dialog and narration? Conclusions and discussion will also be shared based on questions and challenges that face this specific group of students.
Student Skills, Equipment, and Time Required
Students do not need to have a complete WIP. The lessons can be applied to a later work, if necessary. All levels of writers are welcome. Students will need access to the Internet, the Google group, email, and some kind of word processing system (like Microsoft Word).
Time Commitment: Class will meet each week for a total of three hours (two hour video to watch and at least one hour of live chat discussion). Interaction and ongoing discussion will be available if students wish to be more involved, and this is highly recommended to put the lessons into real-life situations. Assignments between class meetings will involve self-editing, and the time required for this will vary based on the WIP time student has available.
Tuition/Fees for this course
SCN members: $128. Non-SCN members: $160.
Meg Dendler has considered herself a writer since she won a picture book contest in 5th grade and entertained her classmates with ongoing sequels for the rest of the year. Beginning serious work as a freelancer in the '90s while teaching elementary and middle school, Meg has over one hundred articles in print, including interviews with Kirk Douglas, Sylvester Stallone, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. She has won contests with her short stories and poetry, along with multiple international awards for her best-selling "Cats in the Mirror" alien rescue cat children's book series. Meg is also an editor with Pen-L Publishing. She and her family (including four cats and her dog, Max) live at 1,400 feet in the Ozark Mountains on what they call Serenity Mountain, just outside of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Visit her website and her blog for more information about upcoming books, events, all of her social media links.