Upcoming Classes

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.

Course description:

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.

 

Sarah Stone is an extraordinarily accomplished author, as anyone who’s read her novel, The True Sources of the Nile, can attest. She is also a brilliant, experienced teacher, with the ability to suggest a variety of approaches to the development of character, plot and structure as well as language and style. I’ve been fortunate to have her read and respond to most of the stories included in my first book, and she read my second book, a novel, in at least three different drafts, providing me the feedback and encouragement to press on with new perspective. I enthusiastically recommend Sarah to beginning, intermediate and advanced writers at any stage of their novels or short stories.
— Angela Pneuman, author of Home Remedies and Lay It On My Heart
I have had the great fortune to get Sarah Stone’s feedback on my writing for many years, and I always come away from her reading with brilliant notes that give me enthusiasm to dig in to the work again. Sarah is that rare editor: someone who gets inside another writer’s project, really trying to see it for what it is, for what it wants to be, without trying to change its peculiar essence. Her reading is always ‘for’ the work, but it’s also very rigorous. Anyone who is lucky enough to get her editorial input will be sure that she will not ignore failures of nerve or missed chances for complexity and depth. Nevertheless, she delivers her opinions in a way that makes the problems seem clear and solvable. She is widely read—from mainstream to experimental fiction, from literary to genre novels—and she brings her knowledge to the discussion to suggest works that might inspire or inform the project. Sarah is a trusted, sensitive, experienced reader. You would be lucky to have her in your corner.
— Lisa Michaels, author of Split and Grand Ambition
Sarah Stone is a wonderful writer and a generous reader of other people’s work. She reads thoughtfully, with insight, and I always understand my work better after hearing from her.
— Cornelia Nixon, author of Jarrettsville and The Uses of Fame
Sarah approaches your work with a combination of great intellect and open heart. She is a thorough, thoughtful reader whose suggestions for revision are never heavy-handed. Rather, she gives the kind of direction that allows you to find your own path, always respecting the integrity of your voice and your story. Genius!
— Michelle Anderson
Sarah Stone is among the most insightful and generous readers I’ve ever encountered. From the level of the sentence to the manuscript as a whole, she articulates exactly what a writer most needs to hear. I can’t imagine publishing anything without first showing it to her and receiving her brilliant feedback.
— Ann Packer, author of Swim Back to Me and The Children’s Crusade
Working with Sarah Stone transformed my writing. I always felt as though Sarah, an incredibly generous reader, cared about my characters as if they were her next-door neighbors. Deeply curious, she would go to the depths in thinking about their lives within the story, what this moment meant for them, and what motivated them. My stories returned with margin notes that praised interesting moments, phrases, suggested compression, and the kinds of questions that pushed my writing to the next level. In a way that I hadn’t experienced for some time, I saw that Sarah believed deeply in my writing and that she would challenge me to come closer to and explore those truths that fueled it.
— Adrienne Perry
I came to Sarah with a strong sense of what I wanted from my stories. Sarah read them on their own terms and highlighted where the craft could be improved so that the writing elicited the right emotional responses from my readers. Through her guidance I learned to refine my craft techniques and sharpen my sentences; she allowed my stories to breathe and flourish. My scenes and dialogue became more complex and the tension in those moments rose. In a sense Sarah taught me to make my stories into the journey I wanted them to be for my readers.
— Somayeh Shams
As a new writer of a debut novel, the idea of having an editor parse through my work was daunting. Sarah made the process as painless as possible, always emphasizing the positive while still ensuring that the manuscript was as good as it could be. She has that rare ability to inspire confidence through what can be a difficult process. At the same time, she taught be how to be a better writer. My manuscript was much improved by her contribution.
— Julia York