Line Editing Your MG or YA Novel (and Creating Your Book’s Style Guide!) Online Course Mar 2021

March 3 - April 21, 2021

Online Course Info:

This is an eight-week online course featuring live sessions with faculty, pre-recorded lectures, structured assignments, community interaction and goal-setting.

Develop your book’s editorial style guide to keep details clear, concise, and consistent as you revise. Work with an editor to learn revision strategies, including line editing, to use on your work-in-progress. Explore resources and complete assignments to find the balance between description and action, strengthen your character’s emotional arc and examine your word and dialogue choices.

The course is divided into 8 sessions:

  • Session 1: Course Overview and Introductions
  • Session 2: What is in a Style Guide?
  • Session 3: Your Style Guide Check-In and Line Editing Introduction
  • Session 4: Finding the Balance Between Description and Action
  • Session 5: Revising to Strengthen Emotional Arcs
  • Session 6: Driving Your Plot with Dialogue
  • Session 7: Analyzing Language at the Word Level
  • Session 8: Where Do We Go From Here?

Scroll down to see a more detailed agenda with dates and times.

Please note:
If you’re unable for any reason to attend any of the sessions, you’ll have access to the recordings of each through May 31, 2021.

Online Workshop Participant Cap:

16 students.

What You’ll Learn & Experience:

In this workshop, you will develop your editorial style guide and apply revision strategies to your work-in-progress. You will:

  • Watch videos, explore resources and complete structured assignments.
  • Have weekly online chats with your instructor and one phone consultation about your book project.
  • Review sample style guides and develop your book’s editorial style guide.
  • Discover the value of line editing to improve your manuscript.
  • Find the balance between description and action: removing unimportant details, examining exposition.
  • Strengthen your book’s emotional arc through character actions, reactions, thoughts, and inner struggles.
  • Learn how to drive your plot with dialogue.
  • Analyze your word choices: sentence length, metaphors, similes, rhythm.

Join Us If:

  • You have an in-progress or completed draft of a middle grade or young adult novel. In this course, you’ll create a style guide to help you keep details clear, concise, and consistent as you revise.
  • You want to learn strategies to improve your novel draft. This course will give you valuable revision strategies to use on your work-in-progress and on future novels.
  • You’re ready to devote some time to learn and practice. This course offers long-term support over 8 weeks and allows you to learn at your own pace.

Preliminary Agenda

The course is divided into 8 sessions, four in person and four you may watch on your own. During the weeks with pre-recorded sessions, the instructor will hold informal discussion groups at the regular time.

Wednesday, March 3, 7 pm Eastern
Session 1 (LIVE): Course Overview and Introductions

  • Overview of Thinkific online-learning platform.
  • Course overview, including setting purpose for each section.
  • Instructor introduction.

Wednesday, March 10, 7 pm Eastern
Session 2 (LIVE): What is in a Style Guide?

  • One-line pitch or tagline: What is your book about?
  • List of characters, noting physical details and character traits.
  • Setting: Locations, buildings, distances, orientation.
  • Timeline: days, seasons, weather, chapter chronology.
  • List of words, phrases that are particular to your story.
  • Review of sample style guides.

Wednesday, March 17, 7 pm Eastern
Session 3 (LIVE): Your Style Guide Check-In and Line Editing

  • Questions about creating your style guide and shared insights.
  • Personalized advice to aid in creating your style guide.
  • Introduction to Line Editing: Words, Experiences, Emotions, Dialogue.

Week of March 24
Session 4 (watch on your own): Your Style Guide Check-In and Line Editing

Optional Office Hours

  • Avoiding stage direction (remove unimportant details).
  • Considering choreography (use setting and movement).
  • Examining exposition (turn summary into action).

Week of March 31
Session 5 (watch on your own): Revising to Strengthen Emotional Arcs

Optional Office Hours

  • Investigating “I/he/she/they thought” statements.
  • Comparing physical reactions to taking action.
  • Understanding the stakes through character emotions.

Week of April 7
Session 6 (watch on your own): Driving Your Plot with Dialogue

Optional Office Hours

  • Revising attribution tags.
  • Adding in physical action (“beats”).
  • Using misdirection.

Week of April 14
Session 7 (watch on your own): Analyzing Language at the Word Level

Optional Office Hours

  • The good: the musicality of word choice—sentence length, alliteration (in moderation!), rhymes and rhythm, metaphors, similes.
  • The bad: Overused words and phrases—repeated words, overused adverbs, weak verbs, transition words, needless fillers.

Wednesday, April 21, 7 pm Eastern
Session 8 (LIVE): Where Do We Go From Here?

  • Sharing questions we may still have.
  • Setting a goal to put the lessons into practice.
  • Information about adding on an optional critique of synopsis and ten pages of your novel (from anywhere within the project) for $100.


Jennifer Gennari

Jennifer Gennari is the author of Muffled (Simon & Schuster, 2020), a Junior Library Guild selection, and My Mixed-Up Berry…
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Catherine Laudone

Special Guest Catherine Laudone is an associate editor at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers with seven and a…
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