Courses I’ve taken through the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA):
Advanced Developmental Editing, taught by Jennifer Lawler, May 2018
An intensive course where I edited a full novel under instructor guidance and which concluded with a detailed evaluation of my edit and revision letter. Class assignments focused on reviewing the principles of developmental editing, creating an editorial plan, tracing and analysing the narrative spine of a story and providing an appropriate critique.
This was an invaluable learning experience that helped me to better understand my working process and how to strengthen it, as well as giving me a greater insight into how my edits are received by authors. During the course, I worked on developing an editorial theory, which I then applied to the manuscript. This allowed me to consolidate my edits and provide the author with stronger, more streamlined feedback. After taking this course, I changed the way I query on a manuscript as well as fine-tuning my editorial process to make it more effective.
Intermediate Developmental Editing, taught by Jennifer Lawler, October-November 2017
An in-depth exploration of issues that crop up in developmental editing, what’s behind them and how an editor can help an author to both see and solve these issues. Assignments related to: helping an author solve plot problems while maintaining their voice, assisting an author to go deeper into the perspective of their characters in order to more effectively convey their story and story world, dealing with the interplay of character, character motivation, conflict and arc; how to prioritise edits and helping experienced novelists go from good to great.
I learned how to connect issues that may crop up in an edit, in order to help show authors where and how they’re going off track. This course also taught me how to effectively edit for voice and perspective, in part by teaching authors about point-of-view. The knowledge I gained on this course has proven to be incredibly helpful in my work.
Beginner’s Developmental Editing, taught by Jennifer Lawler, September-October 2017
An introduction to developmental editing. Assignments covered: how to construct diplomatic queries on a manuscript, how editing for a publisher differs from editing for an individual author, balancing big-picture problems with sentence-level errors, problems common to fiction writing and how to help an author solve them, identifying structural weaknesses and working effectively with novelists.
This course helped me to consolidate my knowledge of issues common to developmental editing of fiction. It gave me an overview of how to conduct a developmental edit for a traditional publisher and an understanding of the roles assigned in an editorial department. It also gave me a good understanding of how editing for self-publishers differs from editing for a traditional publisher. Additionally, I strengthened my knowledge of how to effectively and sensitively raise queries with authors as well as how to prioritise my queries.
Book Mapping for Developmental Editors, taught by Heidi Fiedler, October 2016
A book map is a visual overview of a novel that charts elements such as: plot arc, subplot progression and character development, amongst others. It’s a tool to assist writers and editors in seeing the big picture of their novels, how they might deepen their story and where they might take the next draft. This course explained the book mapping process and how it can be used to analyse weaknesses in a narrative arc. During the course we analysed story structure through the use of existing book maps,. We also created and analysed our own book maps.
Subsequent to taking this course I began regularly using book maps of varying complexity in my editing work, many of which I’ve shared with my clients. Some of the authors I work with have since gone on to use book mapping and more detailed outlining as part of their creative process.
Additional courses I’ve taken:
Developmental Editing of Mystery/Thriller/Suspense, a Club Ed self-paced course written by Jennifer Lawler, taken January-February 2020
This course strengthened my understanding of the crime fiction genre as a whole, as well as of its various subgenres. I learned how to consistently apply the principles of developmental editing to mystery/thriller/suspense novels. Assignments involved reading and comparing edits of different subgenres as well as carrying out a partial developmental edit of a full length crime thriller novel. Since taking this course I have refined my approach to crime fiction editing.
How to Edit Query Letters, Synopses, and Other Author Collateral, a Club Ed self-paced course written by Jennifer Lawler, taken in September 2019
This course taught me how to approach the editing of author collateral so as to help authors be successful in their attempts at traditional publishing. The course also discussed how to effectively assist indie authors with their bios, blurbs etc.
Evaluating Your Effectiveness as an Editor, a Club Ed self-paced course written by Jennifer Lawler, taken in November 2019
This was an incredibly helpful course that taught me how to self-evaluate my work, through a class lesson where I evaluated another editor’s efforts and then by evaluating an edit I’d already completed for a client. Since taking this course I have refined my approach and set new professional goals for myself.
Educational webinars I’ve participated in:
Writing the Other web course: Cultural Appropriation-What it is and How to Avoid It, given by Nisi Shawl and K. Tempest Bradford, taken May 2020
This course provided an excellent in-depth discussion of what cultural appropriation is, how and why it manifests in writing (especially fiction and creative non-fiction) and how writers can work towards avoiding it. The course helped me to strengthen my understanding of these issues and how important they are for modern day writers who wish to be widely read. It also helped me to think about new ways to help writers strengthen characterisation, setting and world-building so as to avoid stereotypes and write more respectfully.
ACES, the Society for Editors webcast: Unconscious Bias and the Conscientious Editor, given by Kory Stamper, taken May 2020
This course was aimed at copyeditors, but as the topic built upon the previous webinar I attended with ACES, I thought it would be useful. And it was. This course focused on helping to make editors more aware of their own (often unconscious) bias and how this could influence their editing approach. Kory Stamper discussed the importance of avoiding bias and its impact not just on readers, but on the world at large. For example, if a national newspaper publishes an article which is inadvertently biased against a group, then this condones that bias in society at large. As editors we need to ensure that we’re aware of these issues and that we help our authors to avoid them. This course taught me to be more aware of the impact of bias in the writing and editing process. It also helped me to better understand how one small change to a sentence or word could impact the entire reading experience.
ACES, the Society for Editors In-Depth class, 3-part webcast: Inclusive Language: A Practical Approach to Avoiding Bias, given by Sarah Grey, taken May 2020
Although this course was aimed at copyeditors, not developmental editors, I found it enlightening. The instructor focused on the fact that language is constantly evolving. The purpose of the course was to give editors the knowledge and tools to better deal with sensitive topics, especially insensitive and inadvertently exclusive language. The material was separated into three subject areas: Sex and Gender, Race and Ethnicity and Hot Topics (which discussed the issue of competing narratives and people-first language). I learned how to spot potential bias, and the effect this bias could have on readers (it often takes them out of a story or piece of writing!). This course also taught me how I can help authors to correct bias in their writing, by sensitively raising the topic (we’re all biased to some extent, even if we’re unaware of our biases), and helping them to brainstorm ways to solve it.
EFA webinar: Editing Memoir, Balancing Artistry and Accuracy, given by Melissa Wuske, October 2018
A discussion of the skills required to edit memoir and issues particular to the genre, as well as the market for memoir and how to forge effective partnerships with authors.
This webinar helped me to think more deeply about the issues that often crop up in memoir and how I might help authors to solve them. Subsequent to listening to this webinar, I went on to explore these issues further by reading more about the craft of memoir.
EFA webinar: Sensitivity Reads, given by Lourdes Venard, July 2018
An overview of sensitivity reading, which has become an additional check in fiction publishing. This webinar included a discussion of the topic, which has proved controversial in some circles. Lourdes Venard covered what a sensitivity read should include and how it differs from editing itself. She also discussed how editors might incorporate an awareness of sensitivity into their edits (for example, by highlighting potentially controversial material and/or recommending that an author seek out a sensitivity read).
This webinar inspired me to read further around the topic and to incorporate my newfound awareness of the issues around sensitivity into my editing process.
EFA webinar: Ghostwriting 101, given by Marcia Layton Turner (Association of Ghostwriters), July 2017
An overview of ghostwriting and how it differs from other types of writing. The webinar also covered issues particular to ghostwriting and the skills needed to be an effective ghostwriter.
This webinar gave me a good understanding of ghostwriting and what it entails.
EFA webinar: Working with Independent Authors as an Editor, given by Tanya Gold, March 2017
An overview of how to work effectively with independent authors. This webinar discussed how editors can best meet the needs of indie authors and how to create strong, positive and lasting relationships with them.
This webinar helped me to think more deeply about how I interact with the authors I work with and to evaluate the effectiveness of my communication.