The Layers of Learning to Write

April 22, 2013

You can’t teach someone to write fiction in a single pass.  Writing happens in layers, and the coaching of the craft of writing also happens in layers.

At the base, there’s the mechanics of grammar and punctuation rules, some novices can meet with me and already have a sound understanding of this, while some may need a session because these things were never learned in school. 

Then comes the editing, the  simplicity of learning to string a sentence together without too many commas in it. Or the training to remove adjectives and adverbs from overwriting. There’s the session about not beginning every line with pronouns (He, She, I, It, or your MC’s first name). And the How-to of recognizing repeated words which make for a too lumpy paragraph.

Wordcraft-wise there’s the stronger verb hunt. The moving from summary narration into telling your story ‘in scene’.  How to make your dialog reveal your character’s motivations and reactions instead of relying on exposition and the dreaded ‘telling’ narration.

Half a dozen sessions there alone. And who gets any of them sufficiently on the first go round?

Then there is that finer coaching– a level of show it to us.  You deal with the tougher tutorial of replacing mounds of backstory, further exposition, and reader-feeder with the subtler subtext of the unsaid. From there we might move on to ways of having your plot revealed by other characters’ reactions rather than your too-on-the-nose narration.

The ways that settings & dialogue should do double duty in your characterizations. How arcs evolve; for the book as a whole, and down to individual scenes. There’s even a lesson in setting up chapter breaks for heightening overall tension.

Another half dozen lessons.

I’ve got an arsenal of other lesson I coach with which add to the layers depending on your writing; from the level of writing you bring to the coaching. We start from where you are now, no matter where that may be.

Then maybe you might even round back to a few that still haven’t been grasped well enough. Layers. And time. No one becomes a writer without learning how to.

Which is why I charge so little for my coaching, there’s a lot to do, and my goal is to help folks do it.

I offer three types of services, all at a very low rate, so don’t worry too much there. Words before worldly goods I say.
We can do any first round of work for a $1.00/page rate. and we can work in sections, to accommodate payments.
2nd and subsequent rounds revert to the hourly rate of 15.00 $, 11.37 €, 9.89 £.

Your work must be formatted this way: 1″ margins all sides, Times New Roman font, 12pt. double spaced.
This is what a publisher would expect from a manuscript submission.

Content edits
with you.

Via Skype, we two go through your work together. I  ask questions about your goals, offer suggestions, and demonstrate solutions, but you make only the changes you want to the manuscript.

Coaching 1-on-1.
We take you work and proceed under the assumption that you’d like to see (in real time on Skype) better ways to write.
Again, you end up making further changes based on the instruction I’ve shown for any writing issue that arises:
Tightening lines. Better verb choices. Writing in scene. Dialogue fixes.
I show you once. You say when you understand fully, then you make the other changes.

Manuscript Edits
I take your completed manuscript and, offline, offer edit suggestions using MS Word’s Tracking Tool.
You then choose to accept or decline all comments and text corrections as you see fit. And you make all changes.
If we need to speak 1-on-1 for clarifications, that is done at the hourly rate.
If you revise and want a second edit run, we revert to the hourly rate.

Try a single session. Make this the year you become a writer, layer by layer.


One Response to “The Layers of Learning to Write”

  1. Karlie Says:

    *waves hand wildly* I definitely recommend the coaching. We did twenty-five pages and it was the best investment of my life. Thank you, EJ!

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