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  • Alan Ward

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers course with Spread the Word

I've been feeling guilty I haven't written a blog post for a while. I'm a bit pressed for time right now so I've taken the lazy option and filmed something instead.

Here I am talking about the Self-Editing course I'm taking with author Sarah Perry (S.K. Perry) through Spread the Word:

Video transcription (automatically generated):

Hello! So I am being very lazy. The next thing on my to-do list today is to write a blog post, but instead of writing a blog post I am recording this video.

Ideas for my blog post: I could talk about the novel for young adults I've written and my experience of sending that out to agents; idea number two: I could about a self editing course I'm doing with Spread the Word; idea number three, I could talk about volunteering at my local local library, which is something I'm doing at the moment. So those are my ideas for the blog post but instead I'm recording this video about the idea that I might write a blog post about one of those those things.

Let's go with the self-editing course I'm doing at the moment, which sounds a bit like a self-help course and in a way that's what it is. We've got a really great tutor, Sarah Perry and she is talking us through editing our fiction projects.

It's an online course so it's all through a Slack channel – a forum that we can all talk in, under different subjects. We get an assignment every two weeks and feedback in the weeks in between. So one week we do an assignment and then we have a week to feedback to another member of the group who we are allocated. You can feedback to more than one person if you want to, or you just feedback to the person you've been allocated for that week.

We've done two assignments so far and one round of feedback and we're just about to go into our next round of feedback, and it's a really useful thing to do. I'm doing it with my young adult novel project. Other people are doing it with short stories, and I considered doing that as well, I might throw a short story in there at some point. Some people are doing it with their adult novels. Some people have finished their novels. Some people are just starting. Everyone is at a different stage, really.

The assignments are around editing your work. The feedback really helps. Though, actually, what happened with me is the first one I did – we were doing some editing work and asking ourselves some questions about our work – and we had to submit 800 words or so: I did that and submitted my work and then I was like, oh, actually even just through the process of going through this and submitting it I can see there's loads more I want to do. So I immediately jumped back on it and was editing away. More than eight hundred words, the rest of the chapter that I'd been looking at, and by the time the feedback came through from the very nice person who had been allocated my work to look at I had already changed it quite significantly. The feedback was still super useful because I could go through it and see if I had addressed the issue or not, and in most cases I had addressed it or I'd just taken it out completely. In some, one or two, I'd left them in there and so I could make those changes and based on the feedback from the other class member.

The course is being run by Spread the Word, the organisation for London writers. I've done a few really good things with them recently and I'm really grateful to be on the course.

We're more than halfway through at the moment, well, maybe we are just about halfway – the second round a feedback. So yeah, just over halfway through, and it's been a really interesting experience. I feel like I'm learning loads and it's helped me to identify which bits of my project in need looking at because I've already been through and edited it what feels like a million times, but it's always the beginning that I come back to as the bit that needs the most work.

Beginnings are the bit that maybe agents read when you first send it out, it's the bit the reader first comes to, and they need to understand what's going on and be excited about the story enough to read more. The beginning for me is the bit that is the oldest bit of the book, the bit I wrote first, and it always feels like it needs more work. Beginnings are difficult, the middles and the exciting scenes that happen along the way are easier. When I say beginning I'm really talking about the very opening.

I've been talking for a few minutes now, so I'm going to stop. This is my writing area and my laptop and my desk where I do my writing. So, that's the end of my blog post for today. I was just feeling really guilty that I haven't done one for a month or more than a month and so that's all I'm going to say and all I'm going to do for my blog post. But thank you for watching!

Thanks for reading this post. I'd love to be able to share more of my stories and blog posts with you, please subscribe if you'd like hear more.

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