Fiction: Final Draft with Susan DeFreitas

A great story is not enough--fiction that gets published kicks ass at the level of the line. Susan DeFreitas will help you achieve this.

Your Instructor: Susan DeFreitas, collaborative editor with Indigo Editing & Publications and author of the novel "Hot Season", 2017 Gold IPPY Award winner.

Where: Online — Available everywhere!

When: This class is not currently enrolling. To be notified when it is offered again, Click Here

Enrollment: 16 students

Price: $325

Class Description

Participants will learn how to win the battle of publication at the level of the line, with tips, tricks, and tools from the editor’s toolbox, as well as principles derived from neuroscience, information theory, and other sexy stuff.

This is not a class for beginners. This is a class for those who are serious about the craft and know how to tell a story but have not yet broken through with a major publication. Participants should have either a short story or a novel that they’d like to prepare for submission; this work should already have undergone at least two rounds of revision.

Final Draft is taught by Susan DeFreitas, an editor with nearly a decade of experience (and 100+ books) under her belt. She is also an award-winning novelist who has been publishing professionally since 2006.

What This Class Covers

Week One: How Editors (and Agents) Read

The way you read your work is not the way editors and agents do, and learning to see your work the way they will is half the battle. Susan will discuss the importance of good research in picking an agent or editor, as well as:

  • The all-important opening
  • Presence on the page; what it is and what it isn't
  • Brainhacks for professional-strength prose (handout)
  • The line editor's toolbox (handout)

Your assignment: apply the principles related via lecture to one story/chapter of your own work.

Week Two: Go Pro(se)

Every element of fiction comes with its own challenges; professional-strength prose sends the signal to editors and agents at every turn that this author is ready to be published. Here Susan will discuss best practices for:

  • Dialogue and scene
  • Summary and description
  • Internal narration
  • Chapter breaks
  • Line breaks

A handout will be included.

Your assignment: apply the principles discussed to the specific elements listed above in your story or chapter. (If your story/chapter from week one doesn't contain any of the elements discussed, you can apply them to a different story/chapter.)

Week Three: Increase Your Odds

Wondering why your book manuscript got rejected, even after the agent requested the full? It might be the market, or it might be what the agent had for breakfast that morning—or it might be that the writing itself is not quite there yet. Susan will discuss the most common reasons manuscripts and stories get rejected, even when the story is strong, including:

  • Known issues with prose that will keep you from getting published (and how to avoid them)
  • How to avoid sounding generic (without becoming obtuse)
  • Genre signals

This will also include a section entitled “Acquisitions Editors Speak.”

Your assignment: submit your revised story/chapter to the group for feedback; each participant will pick the one piece they would choose if they were the agent or editor, and share why.

Week Four: The Emerging Author

In this final week, Susan will share three case studies of revisions that led to the publication of an author’s first book. She will also share some research, goal-setting, and visioning tools to establish:

  • Your long game as an author
  • Where your work fits into the market, and how to capitalize on this
  • Submission strategies that get results
  • Contests and awards

Your assignment: after applying all of the principles discussed in this class to your story or chapter, submit it to the instructor for feedback (up to ten pages). Susan will respond with recommended edits and editorial feedback saved via Track Changes; every Final Draft participant will walk away from this class with ten pages of professionally edited prose.

NOTE: Your story/chapter can be longer than ten pages, but only the first ten pages will be edited by Susan.

Goals Of This Class

  • To show writers how to read their work the way agents and editors will—before they submit.
  • To teach participants the tools and principles professional editors use to increase the appeal, force, and ease of reading associated with prose.
  • To help participants beat the odds, get published, and establish a career as an author.

Each participant will learn the essentials tools and strategies discussed, which will be included in the course’s handout, along with resources for further reading. Each participant will also leave with ten pages of professionally edited prose, as well as a submissions strategy designed to help them beat the odds and get published.

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