Teaching & Editing
Stanford University offers an online creative writing program for adults through Continuing Studies that gives writers a chance to work in a strong, supportive community, deepening their fiction and learning more about both craft and process. I teach novel-writing and publishing in this program as well as courses in the Stanford Continuing Studies Online Certificate Program in Novel-Writing. I also teach in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.
This fall, I'm teaching an online novel-writing course called "Discovering Your Novel's Secret Center" through Stanford. You can read the course description below and learn more here. The course opens for enrollment on August 21.
According to Orhan Pamuk, every novel has a secret center—a “profound opinion or insight about life, a deeply embedded point of mystery, whether real or imagined.” In this course, for writers at all levels, you will have the chance to discover your novel’s secret center—its one-of-a-kind nature—along with ways to adapt both classic and innovative craft techniques to your own needs. We will discuss short novels by Jeanette Winterson and Daniel Alarcón, and do weekly writing exercises (optional after week four when workshops will begin). We will start with the premises and strategies of openings; explore how to find the right voice and point of view for your novel; create outlines and alternative methods of plot discovery; depict individual characters and character constellations; and handle time, place, language, and imagery. We will finish up with work on endings and revision. As a community, we will give each writer supportive, helpful feedback on writing exercises and a selection of up to 5,000 words of a novel-in-progress, working together to discover each novel’s largest possibilities. By the end of the course, you will have new craft techniques, a deeper sense of your novel, and a plan for moving forward.
One-on-One Consulting and Editing
I offer private consulting and editing for writers of novels, story and essay collections, memoirs, and mixed-genre works. I work with writers at various stages, from early in the first draft to the final stages of getting the manuscript ready to go out into the world. If you're interested in my assistance, please write to me at sarah(at)sarahstoneauthor.com with a description of your project and the kind of help you’re looking for, and I'll respond with questions and ideas. Each book gives rise to its own artistic and craft questions, so this first email exchange will help us both to get a deeper sense of your aesthetic and aims. This initial consultation, for which there's no charge, is crucial, since it's important for you to find the right editor for your work.
After this exchange, our next step is to arrange for feedback for a short selection of your book (usually thirty to forty pages). I'll give you a careful reading of these pages along with my overall thoughts about what's already working in the manuscript and where I have questions or see room for development. I believe very strongly in the usefulness of specific praise, as well as honest, supportive, and individual criticism.
I'll read your work not only as a long-time professional reader, but also as a person interested in life, death, and the peculiar challenges of living in this world, so my responses to your writing will always include a consideration of your book's human and thematic aspects.
For an in-progress manuscript, we can set up a regular ongoing interchange in which you send me pages for critique as you move toward completing your book. Depending on what works best for you, you can receive your response in writing (with or without line edits) and/or as a telephone or video chat for discussion and brainstorming.
For complete manuscripts, I'll give you a detailed written critique letter that covers character, point of view, structure, plot and narrative tension, pacing, language, and any questions particular to your work. I'll also make comments on the manuscript itself, noting both strengths and areas for further work. This is a developmental edit, rather than a copy edit, but I will make specific suggestions for taking your writing to the next level and will line-edit selected passages as examples of where and how the work can be clearer, stronger, richer, and more urgent.
After the critique of a full manuscript, we will have a follow-up phone call or video chat for brainstorming, conversation, and answering any questions you have. I'm also available for follow-up readings for sections of the rewritten manuscript or a complete revision. And because the contemporary publishing landscape has become so complex, I also offer assistance and information for navigating both traditional and self-publishing possibilities.
If this sounds like a good fit for you, then write to me at sarah(at)sarahstoneauthor.com (or use the contact button below) and tell me what you're working on and what kind of help you need.