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2015 Summer Writing Retreat - "The Joy of Revision: Editing and Revising Your Masterpiece for the Marketplace" with Carol Dawson

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Sul Ross State University
Alpine, TX 79832

7/19/2015 to 7/23/2015 From 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Retreat Orientation to be held Saturday, July 18, at 6 pm -- Details will be shared with participants in advance of the retreat's start date.

NOTE: This class is sold out.
If you wish to be put on a waiting list, please call us at 512-499-8914.


$329 for Members (Please log in for member pricing)

$379 Non-Members

Please read both the credit card handling fee information and the refund policy at the bottom of this page before purchasing a ticket.


"Carol Dawson is absolutely wonderful. I came away with a new confidence about my work."

-- 2014 Summer Writing Retreat Attendee on Carol Dawson's Class

Just when you think you’ve finally reached the finish line with your first-draft manuscript, typed The End, slumped backwards into your chair, and expelled a triumphant sigh before jumping up to chill the champagne bottle, the realization strikes that those two exhilarating words actually signal the end of one process and the beginning of the next. That curious blend of satisfied joy and dread bubbling up in you like a geyser can mean only one thing: it’s time to edit and revise.

But how do you go about it when you’ve never learned how?

You already do know you must start by re-reading everything you’ve written. You also know, because you wish to be professional, that no matter how wonderful your narrative is, its imperfections will dismay you. Its plot problems might appear unfixable; the character development might seem too thin, the broken bones of scenes still unset and lopsided, the dialogue stiff or stuttery. Even the most seasoned and well-published authors often shrink from this phase, for the simple reason that it requires a separate set of skills deployed by a different part of the brain. In fact, most writers spend years, and much agony, learning on their own how to do it. But it doesn't have to be agonizing at all...

Welcome to the Joy of Revision!

Editing and revising a manuscript is an exacting and demanding process. Because it’s so very different from, and yet so similar to, the initial creative phase, we often would prefer to skip it completely. This is a mistake. As any agent and editor will tell you, the editing process is crucial to making your book the best it can be.

But it can prove fun, and eventually grow so pleasurable and satisfying that you look forward to it, even while you struggle through the first draft of your next book. The key is in knowing what to look for, and how to fast-track your procedures—to actually take joy in cutting and re-shaping.

This course will teach you how to look at your manuscript from the editing vantage point. During the five-day workshop, the instructor will introduce the basic elements of strong narrative, focusing first on Voice and its elements. We’ll talk about what makes Voice the most powerful hook of writing, and study both great beginnings and bad ones. We’ll talk about revealing too much, too soon, and sharing too little, too late. We’ll talk about showing rather than telling, and how and why to make it work. We’ll cover line editing, word choice, verbs of all kinds, how to deepen characterization, and how to cut to hone your story further during the polishing stage. We will take your individual manuscripts, first reading and assessing their opening paragraphs. Then, on the final day, we will edit and revise the first three pages aloud in class—with the class members participating and applying what has been learned.

This course has as its chief goal the crafting of your book for professional acceptance.

Class Takeaways
• You will learn how to develop the skills that shape your book into the best form it can attain, through discussions on structure pertaining to YOUR PARTICULAR GENRE AND INTENT.
• You will learn what to look for in order to give your manuscript its greatest power.
• You will learn how to create authority on the page through editing and revision: how to trim away excess, sharpen dialogue, deliver thrust, flesh out what has been left unrealized, and persuade the reader with the certainty of your authorial voice and your crisp prose.
• Most especially, whether you are writing a fiction or non-fiction narrative, you will learn how to keep that reader riveted to your story.

Who Should Attend
• Fiction writers editing first- or later-draft manuscripts
• Nonfiction writers editing first- or later-manuscripts
• Writers wanting to learn more about the editing and revision process

Requirements: You must bring a completed manuscript to class, as well as two hard copies of your first chapter. Please be prepared to read from it out loud (an essential tool in objectifying and problem-searching your pages). The instructor will also edit the opening chapter of each of your books in after-class hours, to provide you with ongoing editing examples to suit the specific needs of your narrative. On the final day of class, we will have a collective session to go over your edited first three pages, to analyze the ‘before and after,’ and to talk about the differences and how to move forward, applying the revision principles throughout the rest of the manuscript.

About the instructor:
 Carol Dawson is both a novelist and nonfiction author whose books include the novels The Waking Spell, Body of Knowledge, Meeting the Minotaur, and The Mother-in-Law Diaries, all published by Algonquin Books, Simon and Schuster, Viking-Penguin, and translated overseas into several languages. Her award-winning non-fiction book House of Plenty: The Rise, Fall, and Revival of Luby's Cafeterias was published by the University of Texas Press. She has taught creative writing and literature at the College of Santa Fe, as well as in numerous workshops. In addition, her work has been published in magazines and journals, including Texas Monthly, Southern Living, The Oxford-American, Parenting Magazine, etc. Currently she working on two historical novels. Her latest non-fiction book, Miles and Miles of Texas: The Story of the Texas Highway Department, 1917-2017, will be published in Fall of 2016 by Texas A&M University Press.

Note: All credit card transactions will incur a 4% handling fee (this fee can be avoided by mailing in a check for registration with this form).


(Please read this refund policy closely before registering for the 2015 Summer Writing Retreat; no exceptions will be made):

Through May 1, 2015: 100% refund available.
May 2, 2015 - May 31, 2015: 50% refund available.

All cancellations will incur a $50 cancellation fee.

After May 31, 2015: No refunds will be made, but registrants can transfer their registration to another person as long as advance notice is given to the Writers' League of Texas. If you wish to transfer your registration, please call the WLT at 512-499-8914.

Writers' League of Texas classes and workshops are funded in part by the Texas Commission on the Arts - Investing in a Creative Texas. For more information, go to