Jilly: Level Up

Are you a writing craft nerd? Or simply interested in taking your writing to the next level?

If you enjoyed Michille’s post last Thursday about the beauty of the comma, then you might also be interested in a self-paced class that offers a self-editing toolbox to help make your manuscript shine.

The class is called The Manuscript Makeover. Its objective is to help you take your manuscript from rough draft to ready for submission in 48 hours. I know about it because it’s offered by Anne Victory, the line editor I chose to help me burnish The Seeds of Power. Anne has an impressive client list—check out her website and you’ll find famous names like Courtney Milan, Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh, Gena Showalter, Jeaniene Frost.

Working with Anne was an eye-opener for me. I thought the draft manuscript I sent her was pretty clean. Wrong. I was shocked at how many technical errors I made, from capitalization and punctuation to sentence construction. Luckily for me, Anne is an excellent teacher as well as a fabulous editor. She’s kind and funny, and she explains exactly why she’s recommended a correction. I learned a lot and I’m determined to do better next time.

Full disclosure: I haven’t tried The Manuscript Makeover. After I edited and published The Seeds of Power I invested in Victory Academy’s in-depth masterclass version of the course (Refine Your Lines).

According to Anne’s website, the 48-hour course is structured as follows:

  • Day 1: Avoiding infodumps
  • Day 2: Dialogue mechanics
  • Day 3: Show vs. tell in dialogue
  • Day 4: Carrying show vs. tell forward to your narrative
  • Day 5: Deepening your point of view and strengthening your protagonist’s voice
  • Day 6: Overwriting and how to avoid it
  • Day 7: Saying it once—trust your reader!
  • Day 8: Tense issues
  • Day 9: The dreaded play-by-play
  • Day 10: Making your life easier by using styles in Word

The cost at the time of writing is $27. In addition to the course, class members also receive a bonus resource list and a companion e-book.

Sounds good, no? If you’re interested, you can meet Anne and find out more about The Manuscript Makeover by clicking here.

I should add that I have no vested interest in this recommendation. No kickbacks, no affiliate links, no discount off my next edit. It just looked too good not to share 🙂

If you decide to give it a try, I’d love to know how you get on.

17 thoughts on “Jilly: Level Up

  1. That sounds like a great class. Another friend recommended a Publish and Thrive class with Sarra Cannon that she credits with helping her have a successful launch of her debut novel recently.

    Sometimes I think what I’d really like to do, instead of being a writer, is just take classes about writing.

    • Yikes! That sounds way too much like hard work.

      Sometimes I think I’d be quite happy sitting in my own little bubble, just dreaming up people and worlds and stories–except that I’ve discovered I much prefer the stories after they’ve had a round or two of professional polishing.

  2. Anne Victory did a line edit for you, didn’t she? She sounds terrific. I always think my manuscripts are pretty clean, too, but I’m always interested to see what someone else finds. When (if!) I ever get that far with *anything* in my lifetime, maybe she’ll still be in business. 🙂

    • Yes, Anne did a line edit for me on The Seeds of Power. She is a terrific editor and a kind, funny human being. I think you’d like her!

    • Aww, thanks, Jilly! I absolutely adored your story and working with you! You know I’m down for the next book. 🙂

      Kay–reach out anytime. I’m always happy to talk books. And fingers crossed I’ll still be in business. I’ve been doing this for a decade now and don’t plan to go anywhere, so there’s a good chance! 😉

  3. She sounds like a great resource! I wonder how much of the correction was British usage vs. American usage. Can you share what dictionary and style manual she follows? I’ve heard that Merriam-Webster is THE most popular authority for American spelling, but I think Kay likes a different one. (I do love the M-W website — full of word trivia and fun games.)

    And I heard that most American magazines and the big publishers use the Chicago Manual of Style (sometimes adding a “house style” guide for things that show up a lot in their industry/genre, and for when they disagree with the CMoS).

    I always think I write fairly clean, myself, but I’m not a very good editor. No patience for it. So, if I make a typo and don’t correct it immediately, it’s likely to get into print/on the screen.

    • There wasn’t much British usage v American usage to correct by the time the manuscript got to Anne. After a few rounds of RWA contests, back in the day, I decided to go with American usage. My thinking was that British readers are (for the most part) familiar with and tolerant of American usage, whereas many American readers are distracted by British usage. I use the US English grammar and spellchecker in Word, and I’d also gone through two rounds of developmental edits with Karen Dale Harris. She probably did most of the Transatlantic clean-up 😉 .

      Primary references were Merriam-Webster, Chicago Manual of Style, Strunk & White, Garner’s Modern American Usage, Correct Writing. I also have a bunch of other style notes so that I can try to stay consistent within the series as I add more books.

    • Hi, Michaeline! Thanks for the kind words. 🙂

      American publishing tends to go three ways–academic, books, and periodicals. Academic papers tend to go with MLA style (or sometimes the American Psychological Association / APA style), books tend to go with Chicago, and periodicals (newspapers, magazines, etc.) tend to go with the Associated Press / AP style. You’re definitely right that a lot of publishing houses and authors also add on house style guides, though they’re generally only a page or three (why reinvent the wheel).

      Here are a couple of articles you might find useful:
      Addressing your exact question: https://academy.victoryediting.com/blog/publishing-editing-tools-of-the-trade
      On style guides and dictionaries and when to use what and when to give them both the middle finger 😉: https://academy.victoryediting.com/blog/grammar-on-style-guides-and-dictionaries

      Hope that helps!

      • Great links! I had never thought of using a specialized style guide that matches one of the book’s major themes — your examples are great!

        I’ve been experimenting with some little things over the past five years, somewhat inspired by Steven Pinker’s *The Sense of Style*. I think the third-person “they” is now fairly accepted in a lot of circles. But, I’m going to have to change my quotation mark usage back to AP (and I believe CMOS) style — tucking periods and commas neatly back inside the quote marks. Logically, I like the British take on this, but I do think “things”, like this, look a bit sloppy typographically. I think I’m also going to have to accept the Oxford comma, which is a pain, but not a hill I want to fight on, let alone die on.

        Editing really is a different job from writing, and I tip my hat!

        • Thanks–I’m so glad you liked the articles. I actually added a comments section last night. Yikes at learning technology. And if you’d like to follow Victory Academy, it’s LearnVictory on both Twitter and Facebook. 🙂

          As for jobs–I always feel the same way about tipping my hat to authors. Finishing a book is a HUGE deal, and to pour so much time, effort, and emotion into it? Frigging awesome! And I’m the lucky one that gets to help polish that–I have the BEST job in the world, in my opinion. 😉

  4. Jilly, thanks for the recommendation! I read the first day’s lesson about info dumps and not to use “as you know…”. I was also reading Michael Crichton’s State of Fear (global warming, lots of technical details) and HE had one of characters do the info dump! I always disliked them and now I know why! I hate when people tell me something I already know, why do it with your characters?

    • So glad the recommendation was useful. I HATE infodumps and As You Know dialogue. And like you I hated them as a reader long before I knew why.

      At the moment I’m writing a novella that takes place a few years after The Seeds of Power. It’s driven by the events of that book and has many of the same characters, and I’m really struggling with backstory and infodump. It’s hard to give a new reader enough information to make the story work in the now without re-telling the previous book. I’m still not sure I’ve got the balance right–another skill I’ll be looking to improve when I get my first round of edits back, probably in early April.

      • I’ve been following your progress in the blog. I “met” Jeanne when she was asking for readers for her Demon series. I have not yet read Seeds of Power but intend to. If it would be helpful to you, I could wait and be a early-reader of your novella to see if I get enough of the characters. I imagine you probably already have that with the other ladies but I’m a fairly fast reader and could give input if you’d like.

        • I love Jeanne’s Demon series. I have to say I’m really looking forward to Lilith’s book. She’s been such a strong secondary character in the other stories, I can’t wait to see what happens when she gets top billing.

          I’m glad to hear that you’re following my adventures in indie publishing 🙂 Life seems to be one long learning curve at the moment, but I’m really enjoying myself, and I’m so happy finally to have Seeds of Power out in the world. If you’re planning to read the book, that would be the single most helpful thing you could do–I’d love to know what you think of it, and if you felt inclined to leave a review that would be very much appreciated (reviews are like gold dust, especially on Amazon). Daire’s novella and next Elan Intrigues novel are in the same world, share many of the same characters and face the same over-arching conflict, so all feedback is incredibly helpful. Even more so since the Elan Intrigues books are prequels to a longer series.

          My first step with the novella will be to send it to Karen Dale Harris, the ace developmental editor Jeanne and I both work with. I’m booked in for the beginning of March and I’m hoping to hit that deadline but I doubt I’ll have much (any) time to spare. I’ll start to think about beta readers after I’ve taken Karen’s comments on board, so if you’re still available to read at that stage–I’d guess in a couple of months’ time–maybe we could set that up?

    • Ha! Sorry, Sailing. Once you “see” / “hear” the “as you know” thing and recognize that it’s a signal for an incoming infodump, you can never unsee it, alas. 😉

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