Monday, January 31, 2011

Learn to Revise with Harold Underdown

Harold Underdown and I at the Highlights
Writers Workshop at Chautauqua

Highlights Foundation offers a number of excellent writing workshops throughout the year.  This one  in March features Harold Underdown, an expert in the field of writing and publishing for children. I was fortunate to work with Harold when I attended Chautauqua two years ago.

The following information comes directly from Highlights Foundation:

On March 10-13, 2011, Harold Underdown, longtime editor and author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books and founder of the popular Web site The Purple Crayon, will introduce a small group of writers to proven techniques for self-editing and for revising. Harold will be joined by children's book editor Eileen Robinson for a new Highlights Foundation workshop, How to Revise on Your Own and with Other Writers.

The Highlights Foundation asked Harold about the importance of polishing one's work before submitting. Here's what he had to say.

Highlights Foundation: I keep hearing that writers must submit books that are "ready-to-publish." What does that mean?

Harold Underdown: "Ready-to-publish" is a scary term. There's no standard definition, but it means that the manuscript has been through the wringer. There are no significant problems with the plot, the characters, the pacing. It has also been polished sufficiently that a reader will not keep running into distracting spelling and grammar mistakes, clumsy phrasing, and so on. More polished manuscripts have an advantage. But then, they always have.

Highlights Foundation: Isn't it the editor's job to polish a manuscript? Why do I need anyone else to critique my work?

Harold Underdown: There have always been some limits to what an editor, working in-house, could or would do with a manuscript. The assumption today behind the "ready-to-publish" rule is that as publishers have trimmed staff, the remaining editors do not have time to develop manuscripts. They need to acquire and move on, and so writers "must" get help with their manuscripts if they can't get them to "ready-to-publish" status on their own.

But maybe you don't need anyone else to critique your work—that's the point of our workshop. We have learned a lot about what works and what doesn't in revision, and our goal with the workshop is to pass on some of our knowledge, so that the people who take it will come out of it better equipped to do their own editing, either on their own or with the help of other writers, friends, or family.

"How to Revise on Your Own and with Other Writers" is limited to twelve writers. Harold and his co-leader, children's book editor Eileen Robinson, will put their extensive experience to work, giving you critical tools for polishing your work. To secure your spot, or for more information, contact Jo Lloyd at 570-253-1192, e-mail, or request an application online.

Highlights Foundation Founders Workshops take place near Honesdale, Pennsylvania. You'll stay in your own cozy cabin, surrounded by 1,300 wooded acres and hiking trails. Workshop fee includes individual cabins; all meals (provided by a top-notch chef); airport pickup service, if needed; and an intimate teaching setting at the homeplace of the Founders of Highlights for Children.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

ANd yet another reason I want to pick your brain, my friend. :)

When I saw your reply on my post today, I hop over and BAM! More Chautauqua yumminess for me. I hope we get a chance to talk at the conference!

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