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Effective Editing: How to Take Your Writing to the Next Level

Level up your writing skills by learning the key elements of self-editing. With expert guidance, you’ll be able to polish any rough draft into a finished piece worth sharing.
Effective Editing: How to Take Your Writing to the Next Level is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 56.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Help I Longed For Learning to write is more difficult than I imagined but knowing how to edit is even harder. Molly’s lessons are a blessing for anyone striving to make their book as polished as possible. I highly recommend her course.
Date published: 2022-10-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from excellent tutorial on the hard work of editing Everything covered is excellent, both understandable and well organized. The presentation was solid and clear. My only complaint is her formula for crafting a successful novel is limited. Not wrong, but not the only way to do it. I found myself thinking of award-winning novels that countered her advice directly. So, not wrong in any way, just a bit narrow. in the end, I learned a lot and strongly recommend this course.
Date published: 2022-10-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Effective Editing Since buying this course, in video, I've gone through every lecture at least five times and still have more to go. There is so much to learn and glean from the lectures that are packed with valuable information regarding editing. Definitely recommend this course. I'm enjoying it immensely and putting it to good use helping a friend write a book.
Date published: 2022-09-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Micro and Macro This course effectively went through all levels of Editing. It was well done, illustrated, and circumspect of the reader, writer, types of, and publishing.
Date published: 2022-09-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Course for all types of writers This course does exactly as it promises: It makes a person a better editor and, by extension, a better writer. The Professor delivers concise and clear information on the process of self-editing. Something I've already found to be helpful in posting online reviews and writing in my journal. Though this is a short course there was something to be learned in every lecture and I'm sure that I will find the information I've learned to be useful when I edit my original writings. The tools explored in this course will be useful to everyone, whether they are writing fiction, blogs, reviews, long e-mails, or lengthy documents. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2022-07-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Effective Editing I have many of your courses and love them!! Thank u!
Date published: 2022-07-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Valuable Tool This series on editing provides valuable insight into the process. The presenter shares clear, concise, and organized information to take your writing to the next level. Her step by step process is perfect for any beginner.
Date published: 2022-06-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Useful I wrote a book this winter, not a novel. I "edited" the book. I saw this course and thought, 'Why not see if it would make my business book better?'. She has enlightened me about editing. I will find business editor. I believe if you are a novelist this short course is useful. I've learned much. Molly, the author, does a great job.
Date published: 2022-05-22
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Discover the crucial phase between drafting and publishing with writing coach and editor, Molly McCowan. With Molly’s guidance, we created Effective Editing: How to Take your Writing to the Next Level, which provides you with a step-by-step, self-editing process filled with tools and techniques that will help improve your narrative writing skills.


Molly McCowan

Effective editing will take your stories from good to unforgettable.

Molly McCowan is an accomplished developmental editor, copyeditor, and writing coach. As the founder and lead word nerd of the editorial agency Inkbot Editing, she helps authors make their work the best it can be and navigate the often-complicated waters of traditional publishing and self-publishing. She earned her BA in English from Colorado State University.

Molly has worked as an editor for renowned publishers like HarperCollins, Routledge, Psychology Press, Oxford University Press, and Taylor & Francis Group as well as for corporations, magazines, universities, and nonprofits. She teaches writing and self-editing at industry conferences, writers’ groups, and writing organizations throughout the United States, and she hosts collaborative critique groups for writers driven to improve their work and get published.

Molly is also an editorial business consultant who teaches workshops and multiweek courses for organizations like the Editorial Freelancers Association and ACES: The Society for Editing on how to operate a successful freelance editing business. She serves on the board of the Editorial Freelancers Association, and she’s the founder of the Fort Collins, Colorado, chapter of Shut Up & Write!, where she and her team of volunteers host free writing sprints every week. She is an active supporter of the writing community in Colorado and beyond.

By This Professor

Effective Editing: How to Take Your Writing to the Next Level
Effective Editing: How to Take Your Writing to the Next Level


Understanding the Four Levels of Editing

01: Understanding the Four Levels of Editing

In this introductory lesson, Molly McCowan breaks down the four levels of editing: developmental editing, line editing, copy editing, and proofreading. Each level has a different focus and uses different tools. By understanding how they work, you’ll be better equipped to plan and execute your edits more effectively.

21 min
Planning Your Edit

02: Planning Your Edit

Editing can be a daunting process, especially when you may be basing your decisions on common myths about revising your own work. Debunk these myths and discover the best methods to tackle your edits, after you’ve completed your rough draft. Along the way, Molly shows you how to hone your editor’s eye and look at your own work more clearly.

24 min
Editing for Plot and Structure

03: Editing for Plot and Structure

As you begin your big-picture revisions, it’s critical to first focus on how your story comes together and how it reflects what the protagonist wants. Here, Molly guides you to evaluate your story structure, pulling from examples like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter to demonstrate how story beats propel your narrative forward. Be prepared for a challenge, as this stage of editing can involve big changes.

25 min
Editing for Dynamic Characters

04: Editing for Dynamic Characters

Everything about narrative writing is centered on characters; so, it’s crucial to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the individuals who drive your story. To help you gauge the strength of your characters, Molly leads you through the four-part Protagonist Test, which gives you a foundation for improving your characters’ motivations, flaws, and evolution throughout the story.

29 min
Tackling Point of View

05: Tackling Point of View

Who tells your story? Point of view (POV) is the lens through which your readers experience your narrative—you need to know who guides your readers and why. Here, you’ll assess how well your POV is working. You’ll learn how to determine what information to share and when to share it. You’ll also learn how to untangle any problems with multiple POVs, if you use this technique, and how to explore the most common POV issues and how to fix them.

26 min
Page-Turner Pacing: Scene versus Narration

06: Page-Turner Pacing: Scene versus Narration

In the middle of big-picture and little-picture editing lies the issue of pacing. When is a good time to include a descriptive passage? How much information is too much or too little? Why does the middle of a story often become a slog? Molly answers these questions and more, examining common pacing dilemmas and walking you through the narrative techniques you can apply to speed up or slow down scenes, chapters, or entire acts of your story.

27 min
Building Stronger Scenes

07: Building Stronger Scenes

The ability to write great scenes can be one of your greatest strengths as a writer. Learn how to delineate your individual scenes and adjust the narrative bridges that connect them—as well as how to eliminate unnecessary “infodumps” along the way. End this editing phase with an important comparison between your opening and closing scenes.

26 min
Showing versus Telling: Beyond the Basics

08: Showing versus Telling: Beyond the Basics

“Show, don’t tell” is popular writing advice doled out by professionals and amateurs alike. But what does it really mean to show rather than tell? And why is it important? Here, you’ll learn how to determine when to show—using tools like action and dialogue—and when it’s okay to simply tell the reader what they need to know.

14 min
Dialogue That Sparkles

09: Dialogue That Sparkles

Why does dialogue lifted directly from life sound so unrealistic and flat on the page? The truth is that dialogue is actually an extension of narrative action: It’s far more than simple conversation. Here, Molly explores common problems with dialogue and interior monologue and shows you how to use both to effectively move your story forward and to develop your characters.

27 min
Sentences That Sizzle

10: Sentences That Sizzle

Get into the nitty-gritty details of line editing as you look at your work at the paragraph and sentence levels. First, you’ll take a close look at your ideal reader, a crucial preparatory step before you can fine-tune your writing. Then, Molly shows you proven techniques to elevate your prose by considering three crucial elements: adverbs, adjectives, and verbs.

27 min
Pruning Your Prose

11: Pruning Your Prose

The number one rule of pruning your writing in the line editing process is to simplify it as much as possible. Discover how to whittle down your writing to its essential elements and remove extraneous words, qualifiers, and redundancy. See why a simple, clear style is superior to writing that’s weighed down by unnecessary flourishes and baggage.

29 min
When to Ignore the Grammar Rules

12: When to Ignore the Grammar Rules

What most people refer to as grammar rules are actually usage guidelines, which include everything from word choice to punctuation. Here, learn the difference between the two. See which common grammar and usage “rules” you can safely ignore, including those that say never to use the passive voice, write in sentence fragments, or start sentences with conjunctions.

12 min
Beyond the Red Pen: What Comes Next

13: Beyond the Red Pen: What Comes Next

How do you know when it’s time to stop revising? Once you’ve finished editing your work, what then? In this closing lesson, Molly discusses the possible next steps, including what to look for in a professional editor; whether to bring in beta readers, and how to handle their feedback; and how to determine which editorial services your manuscript may benefit from, as you move toward either self-publishing or traditional publishing.

24 min