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Off Campus Writers' Workshop - OCWW

Kelly McNees - Five Elements Essential to Snagging an Editor's Interest

  • November 16, 2017
  • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka, IL


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Kelly McKnees -

Five Elements Essential to Snagging an Editor's Interest

Editors of fiction at traditional publishers consider hundreds of projects per year but only acquire a few. Of course, editors vary in the kinds of books they’re seeking, across genre and audience and theme. But almost all of them are looking to see whether a submission has achieved five essential elements. As I've learned in my time in editorial departments, as an author myself, and in my work helping clients prepare manuscripts for submission, editors can spot these in the first fifty pages—and usually in the first five. The first hour of this session will examine these five elements in detail: 1) Launching the Story, 2) The “Active” Protagonist, 3) The Sympathetic Protagonist, 4) Restrained Backstory and Exposition, and 5) Sufficient Conflict with Escalating Stakes. We’ll also touch on a sixth element, Polished Prose.  

In the second hour, we’ll turn to critiques of first scenes and look at how you might address these five important elements in your manuscript to give it the best possible chance of success. OCWW members are invited to submit the first five pages of a novel or short story for Kelly's critique and class discussion on November 16. A nominal fee of $15 per critique will be due at the time of submission. Please see manuscript guidelines for more details. 

Kelly O'Connor McNees began her editorial career at Harper Collins and the University of Michigan Press. She launched Word Bird Editorial Services in 2008, and has helped writers of all stripes—including a CIA agent, a musician, a New York City bartender, a newspaper columnist, a dentist, an organic farmer, an art house cinema owner, and many, many others—improve their writing and pursue their publication goals. Kelly is the author of Undiscovered Country (coming in 2018), The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, In Need of a Good Wife, and The Island of Doves. She is passionate about coaching writers and troubleshooting manuscripts to help them succeed. 

9-9:30 AM registration and socializing
9:30-12 PM program

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