Course Outline for Editing Fundamentals

Week 1

Lesson 1- What Editors Do

Have you ever wondered just what editors do with writers’ manuscripts? In this first lesson, you’ll find out. You’ll learn about the different types of editors—copyeditors, acquisition editors, developmental editors, production editors, and more—and exactly what their jobs entail. Because this course focuses on copyeditors, you’ll explore the three levels of copyediting: light, medium, and heavy. Finally, you’ll be introduced to five immutable laws of editing designed to make your job as a writer or an editor much easier.

Lesson 2- The Mechanics of Copyediting

If you’ve ever seen a page marked up by an editor, you probably wondered what all those funny-looking marks and symbols meant. In today’s lesson, the mystery will be revealed. All the marks will be displayed and defined, and you’ll learn to use them as a sort of shorthand to fix errors. At the end of the lesson, you’ll have the opportunity to practice using your newly learned copyeditors’ marks in an entertaining exercise.

Week 2

Lesson 3- Tools to Increase Accuracy

Today, you’ll be given some invaluable tools for increasing awareness of detail while you’re writing or editing. You’ll learn the theory behind these tools and how to use them to help you with accuracy and consistency. Then we’ll shift gears and delve into the intricacies of fiction writing and editing. You’ll take a close-up look at fiction writing devices such as narration, exposition, dialogue, and point of view, and how each can be effectively incorporated into a manuscript.

Lesson 4- Grammar and Punctuation

Grammar and punctuation are two subjects that usually evoke a big “Ugh!” Today’s lesson is a review of the basics of English grammar and punctuation, but the ugh-factor is conspicuously absent. You’ll revisit all those principles you learned in school, but in a light-hearted manner guaranteed to ease the pain. Proper grammar and punctuation are the hallmarks of good writing and editing, and you’ll be glad you had the chance to bring your knowledge up to date.

Week 3

Lesson 5- Spelling, Capitalization, and Numbers

Today’s lesson will take you into the world of spelling, capitalization, and numbers. Most people are surprised to learn that there are actually rules governing how words are spelled and capitalized, and whether numbers should be spelled out or in digit form. You’ll learn not only the rules but also the exceptions. The benefit of knowing all the variations is that you’ll create consistency in your work, and your writing/editing will shine.

Lesson 6- Syntax and Style

This lesson explores all the writing pitfalls that can leave readers in a state of confusion. You’ll learn to recognize and fix mixed metaphors, garbled syntax, nominals, redundancies, and much more. You’ll also learn how to untangle overly wordy sentences, how to eliminate sexism, and how to create parallel structure. One of your goals as an editor or a writer is to produce clarity. This lesson will put you firmly on the path to achieving that goal.

Week 4

Lesson 7- Abbreviations and Hyphens, Bibliographies and Copyright

When is it appropriate to use an abbreviation? When should you hyphenate words? Most people have a general knowledge of abbreviations and hyphens, but when it comes time to actually use them, they haven’t a clue. Today, you’ll learn all the ins and outs of the rules that guide their use. Then you’ll look closely at a less-glamorous but critical part of a manuscript: bibliographies, footnotes, citations, and endnotes. Editors and writers need to know how to properly reference quoted material within a manuscript, and the simple guidelines in today’s lesson will make the process easy.

Lesson 8- Artwork and Tables, Front and Back Matter

The relationship between an author and an editor is tricky at best. Throw a publisher into the works, and you have the potential for a powder keg of emotions. Today’s lesson shows you how to keep life harmonious within the author-editor-publisher relationship. Writers will be able to see things from the editor’s perspective, and editors will learn how it feels to be in the author’s shoes. Both of you will gain insight as well as a good brush-up of your people skills.

Week 5

Lesson 9- Fiction Editing

Today, you will learn about a different way to edit, which has become the norm rather than the exception. Editing manuscripts on-screen is the wave of the present, and in this lesson, you’ll explore the intricacies of making edits electronically, thereby eliminating the physical manuscript. You’ll then learn about copyright law, permissions, and fair use, all of which are essential for both editors and writers to become familiar with.

Lesson 10- The Editor-Author-Publisher Relationship

Manuscripts have many parts beyond just the text. In this lesson, you’ll learn how to edit such peripheral material as tables, charts, and artwork. If you’ve ever seen a caption that didn’t fit the photo it was describing, you’ll understand the need for this extra scrutiny. Next you’ll learn all about the components of a book that come before and after the text, namely, the front and back matter. You’ll learn the function of parts such as the foreword, the table of contents, the index, and many more.

Week 6

Lesson 11- Word Usage

After five weeks of absorbing the technical elements of editing, it’s time to have some fun. Today, you’ll take a close look at the intricacies, inconsistencies, and irregularities in the English language. These are the things that defy classification but still are important to know. You’ll learn about oddball words and phrases, the do’s and don’ts of usage, and the many ways in which language is like a puzzle that’s never finished.

Lesson 12- Finding Work as an Editor

This might be the most important lesson of all. Today, you will learn how to find work as an editor. Whether you’re interested in a staff position or want to begin a freelance career, all the help and advice you’ll need is in this lesson. You’ll also learn some basic business practices that will make your life as an editor easy.

What do others think?

‘As an aspiring writer and editor, I felt this course was extremely helpful. I now have the tools and the confidence to jump-start my career. Thanks, Jackie, for your amusing anecdotes and excellent instruction.’

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