DE Detective: Using sentence-level manuscript clues to track down dev problems

Four lessons, self-paced class, meant for working with fiction authors. $79

When a manuscript has obvious problems, they’re, well, obvious. The overemphasis on backstory has slowed the pacing to a crawl, the POV hops from head to head, it takes three chapters for the actual story to start.

This class is about going beyond the obvious. We’ll polish our magnifying glasses and learn how to search the ms at the sentence level for clues about developmental problems.

I don’t mean we’re going to do line editing or pretend to be copy editors. Instead, we’re going to use clues that pop up at the sentence level to understand the types of developmental problems a ms has—and to figure out the solution.

For example, an author who uses the word “because” a lot in a manuscript is likely to be overexplaining. This can lead to slow pacing, a feeling of the story being told rather than shown, and reader dissatisfaction because their role in figuring out what’s happening in the story has been stolen from them.

But be careful! The solution to a copyediting problem is to delete or replace the problem word (or phrase/sentence). That won’t work when you’ve tracked down a developmental problem. You have to dig a little deeper to figure out how to effectively crack the case.

In this class, we’ll cover a variety of clues to watch for in development, how to devise your own set of clues (as they can, and will, vary from project to project), what to do when you’ve identified a dev problem using this methodology and more!