Jim Crace gave a masterclass on editing novels at Stratford Upon Avon Library.

Top Tips

  • Print out your ‘finished’ manuscript and ruthlessly disfigure it by marking or circling any words, phrases or sections which in your heart of hearts you know to be less than entirely satisfactory.
  • Read your manuscript out loud; the poorly expressed passages will sound leaden.
  • Use your Thesaurus to make sure your word choice is entirely effective; never forget that your Thesaurus has a richer vocabulary than you.
  • Remove any heavy and unnecessary evidence of your research.
  • Do all of the above again.

Reading List

A baker’s dozen: celebrated 20th century works of fiction in English, chosen because of their closeness to edited perfection (and also because they are personal favourites which I return to again and again):

E.M. ForsterA Passage to India
V.S. NaipaulA Bend on the River
F. Scott FitzgeraldThe Great Gatsby
Flannery O’ConnorThe Collected Stories of Flannery O’Connor
J.M. CoetzeeWaiting for the Barbarians
Ivan TurgenevFathers and Sons
Toni MorrisonBeloved
R.K. NarayanMalgudi Days
Flann O’BrienThe Third Policeman
William GoldingThe Inheritors
Margaret AtwoodThe Handmaid’s Tale
G.K. ChestertonThe Man Who Was Thursday
Graham GreeneThe Quiet American

Related RSL Fellows

Jim Crace 1999