2017-03/25 Make Every Word Work for You with Barbara Davenport
The great novelist and short story writer Flannery O’Connor said, “Make every word work for you.” It’s a great goal; the ability to edit your own work is one of the most useful skill sets a writer can develop. You need to be clear about what you’ve come to say, be able to spot the weak words and distracting passages that sap your work’s vitality and know how to replace them with stronger writing. This one session, three hour course will teach you specific skills and techniques for editing and strengthening your work. Topics include:
- Why making every word work improves your prospects for publication
- Get clear on what you want to say
- Find where your piece actually starts
- The art of editing: cut large, then small
- How to murder your darlings and what to do with the corpses
- What you hear when you read your work out loud
- The value of the vomit draft
- Nouns and verbs are your workhorses
- Anglo Saxon words beat out Latin words
- Trust your reader’s intelligence, or, why less is more
- Planting gold coins in your work
We’ll discuss techniques for self-editing, and you’ll test drive them in short exercises. Bring a piece of your own work. It can be in any state: a completed scene/chapter/essay, or a work in any state of progress. In the exercises you’ll focus on your own work. Sharing with the class will be helpful but is not required. Use whatever writing materials—laptop or pen/pencil and paper—work best for you.
These techniques are applicable to fiction, long and short; memoir; personal essay and literary non-fiction. The class is useful for adult writers of all levels of experience.
Barbara Davenport is the author of Grit and Hope, A Year with Five Latino Students and the Program That Helped Them Aim for College, UC Press, and as Barbara Rosof, The Worst Loss, How Families Heal from the Death of a Child, Henry Holt. She’s written for Voice of San Diego, the Reader, CityBeat, the Christian Science Monitor and some exceedingly obscure lit mags. She teaches writing in private groups and in individual consultation. She has a special interest in helping writers learn to edit their work.
PLEASE NOTE: It is best to register early to help our instructors prepare and ensure the class does not get cancelled or shifted to another date and time. We evaluate registration numbers between 7 and 3 days before a class start to decide about whether to keep or reschedule it. By registering 7 days or more in advance, you help us help our participants and instructors in many ways.