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"Editing Toward Excellence: Fine-tuning Your Manuscript to the Gripping Point" with Carol Dawson

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St. Edward's University, Moody Hall 204
3001 S. Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78704

12/3/2016 From 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM

$99 members (sign in for member pricing)

$159 nonmembers

Online registration is now closed for this event. You can pay admission at the door with a check for the walk up rate - $109 for members and $169 for nonmembers. Please read all policies as noted below and on our Classes page.

Location Note: This class is held in Moody Hall, Room 204. This is a different building from past years' classes at St. Edward's University. You can find a campus map here

Editing and revising a manuscript is an exacting and demanding process. Because it seems so very different from the initial creative phase, we often would prefer to believe our first draft is already pure gold, and 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--in other words, strip to grip.
This class will teach you how to look at your manuscript from the editing vantage point. During the class, 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 then take the opening paragraphs of a few volunteers’ individual manuscripts, read and assess their strengths and flaws, and edit and revise them aloud in class.
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 discussionon 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
Please bring a hard copy of your opening page, and be prepared to read from it out loud (an essential tool in objectifying and problem-searching your pages).


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. 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. Her latest non-fiction book, Miles and Miles of Texas: The Story of the Texas Highway Department, 1917-2017, was released on October 1st, 2016 by Texas A&M University Press.

REGISTRATION BY MAIL: If your browser has difficulty with our website store, or if you prefer to mail in a check, click HERE for a class registration form. The document provides instructions on where to mail it.

NOTE: Once a purchase has been made, tickets are not refundable and registration cannot be transferred to a different class or event. No exceptions will be made. If you purchase a ticket and then find you cannot attend, someone else can attend in your stead. Simply contact us at or 512-499-8914 and let us know so that we can update the class roster. For policies, please visit our Classes page.


This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department. Visit Austin at

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


The Writers' League of Texas would like to thank St. Edward's University for its generous support and commitment to community, ongoing education, and the arts. Visit