“I have no doubt that Cornerstones helped me on my way to a publishing contract. Their advice was constructive and professional and helped me approach my manuscript in a completely different way.”

Anne-Marie Conway, Star Makers Club, Usborne

Edit Your Novel The Professional Way

Learn how to Edit Your Novel the Professional Way on our new online course

Over 18 weeks, literary consultants Kathryn Price and Helen Corner-Bryant will show you how to take your novel from draft to agent-ready submission. We’ll introduce you to the techniques used by professional editors based on our time-tested approach to author development, as well as the skills outlined in our essential guide to editing, On Editing. You’ll need to put in up to 10 hours per week to make the most of the course (180 hours over the 18 weeks) – that includes reading and thinking, completing practical exercises, feeding back on your peers’ novels, and contributing to forum discussions. You can work at any time of the day (or night) – you just need to meet the final deadline in each class.

Start Date: 29 January 2018

Course Director: Helen Corner-Bryant

Course Leader: Kathryn Price

Price: £1,500 + VAT (Early-bird £1,300 + VAT)

Location: Online

Duration: 18 weeks

Format: 7 fortnightly classes, plus final class lasting one month

This course is for authors who have a complete draft of a novel – either a current work-in- progress or one you would like to revisit. You may have completed a novel-writing course, or a writing masters, and are now ready to make the leap to the next level. Or you may be published and working on a new novel.

We’ll introduce you to the key skills needed to edit a novel and show you how to use those techniques to diagnose and fix problems in your own work. We will also show you how to prepare your submission package to present to the trade. During the course, there will be forum and chatroom participation, a moderator to answer day-to- day and technical queries, and a tutor overseeing your comments and posted work. You will receive individual tutor feedback on three occasions during the course.

Course Outline

Class 1: Plan and Plot

Aim: Learn about diagnostic structuring techniques and how to apply them to your own work.

Outcome: Find and fix plot problems and produce a solid structural overview (synopsis). You will talk to your tutor about your novel (15-20 minutes).

Class 2: Characters with Heart

Aim: Find out how to assess character strengths and weaknesses, and flesh out less defined characters. Analyse characters in terms of their role and function in the plot, looking at character arcs and their impact on structure.

Outcome: Make a detailed analysis of your protagonist, including their inner and external conflicts mapped side by side with your plot structure.

Class 3: What is the Point of View?

Aim: Examine different POVs and explore their effect on tension and readability. Learn the dos and don’ts of (POV) and how to make yours as effective and intimate as possible.

Outcome (choose one option):

  • A: Edit 1,000 words of your novel to avoid head-hopping
  • B: Edit 1,000 words, using a different POV
  • C: Edit 1,000 words using advanced techniques to bring us even closer to the POV character

Your tutor will provide feedback on your POV at the end of this class.

Class 4: Effective Dialogue and Description

Aim: Understand the purpose of dialogue and how to juggle context, text and subtext. Explore ways to use description to kick-start the reader’s imagination, and blend dialogue and description effectively within the parameters of POV.

Outcome: Red-pen and rewrite one short scene to make more of your description and dialogue (to include infrastructure, scene- setting and dialogue/cushioning).

Class 5: Show-stopping Scenes

Aim: Learn how to prioritise material so that each scene has a clear purpose and direction, using questions and answers to increase tension and make scenes shine.

Outcome: Check that each scene in your first 10,000 words is really needed and rewrite one full scene implementing the techniques you’ve learned.

Class 6: Page-turning Pacing

Aim: Develop advanced approaches to balancing material — dealing with overwriting or superfluous elements, and knowing when to extend/slow down and when to cut back/speed up. Discover how to apply the idea of pacing to your overall structure.

Outcome: Rewrite a dramatic incident employing pacing appropriate to the subject and atmosphere.

Class 7: Let Show not Tell Lead the Way

Aim: Find out how to spot telling in your writing, and why, how and where to dramatise instead. See how to use ‘show not tell’ as a lens to examine every aspect of your writing and learn how to inhabit the ‘show not tell’ mindset when editing.

Outcome: Edit your first chapter using ‘show not tell’ techniques to guide you. You’ll participate in a tutor-led online group discussion on common problems, with troubleshooting tips.

Class 8: How to Catch an Agent’s Eye

Aim: Create an industry-level package to submit to agents; learn how to research and pitch, with tips on how to land on your chosen agent’s desk. Write a catchy book description and covering letter, using an editing checklist of dos and don’ts.

Outcome: Apply the techniques you’ve learned to your first 10,000 words, then write your covering letter and finalise the synopsis you produced in Class 1. At the end of the course you’ll receive detailed tutor feedback on your first 10,000 words, synopsis and covering letter.

You’ll have an edited and industry-formatted version of the first 10,000 words of your novel, together with a synopsis and covering letter, ready to send out to agents. You’ll also have a good working knowledge of the professional editing techniques you need to apply to the rest of your manuscript, and a plan to put those skills into action. At the end of the course you’ll receive detailed tutor feedback on your first 10,000 words, synopsis and covering letter.