Lisa Borders

 

Novel Consulting and Coaching ServiceS

Accepting new clients in the fall of 2018.
Contact lisa@lisaborders.com for more information.

I’ve been teaching creative writing for more than twenty years. Early in my teaching career, I realized that novelists were underserved by traditional workshop formats, and I dedicated myself to devising classes geared specifically for the novel.

At Boston’s GrubStreet I developed and taught a variety of novel courses and programming, including the Novel in Progress classes and the Novel Generator program. I also co-developed the Novel Incubator program, and co-taught it in its first two years.

My coaching and consulting work has evolved from a service I offered former students who wanted to work with me after their courses had ended to a variety of options designed to help writers at all stages get their books written, revised, and ready to submit to agents or editors. I work primarily with novelists, preferring to focus my expertise and instruction on the novel’s inherent storytelling rewards and challenges. I enjoy working with all novel genres, including literary fiction, speculative/science fiction, young adult, mystery and historical, and have helped shepherd books in all of these categories to completion. (Testimonials below.)

 

Services offered:


 

Developmental Editing: for novelists with a full or partial manuscript draft

As a developmental editor, I’ll read your novel twice and evaluate how it’s working in terms of elements of craft: voice, point of view, characterization, tension, the protagonist’s desire, part structure, plot. I’ll do heavy line editing on the first 30 pages to demonstrate patterns for sentence-level revision, and write comments and do occasional line edits throughout the rest of the manuscript.

I’ll then write a comprehensive editorial letter, 7 – 8 single-spaced pages long, where I detail what’s working well and areas for improvement. I’ll suggest an overarching structure and a revision plan. After you’ve received and read the manuscript with comments and the letter, we’ll schedule a one-hour meeting. We can do this meeting by Skype, or, if you’re in the Boston area, in person.

My rate is $100 per hour for developmental editing; the number of hours depends on both the length of the manuscript and the style of writing. I’ll quote you a firm rate before I start.

 


 

Novel Coaching: for novelists at all stages

Individualized Craft Tutorials

We’ll start with a complimentary half-hour meeting where you’ll talk to me about the book you have written or want to write. You’ll then submit a 15-page writing sample (ideally, the opening pages of your novel draft, but it could be from another work if you haven’t started your novel yet). Based on the writing sample, I’ll develop individualized, one-on-one craft tutorials. A sample program looks like this:

 

Sample I:
Craft Elements

Each weekly lesson will include: handouts explaining the craft topic; 1 - 2 published essays on the topic; examples from novels; and 1 - 2 exercises, including at least one exercise involving rewriting a 3 - 5 page scene from your novel. I will e-mail you the material before we meet (lead time to be determined), read your responses to these exercises before we meet, and then we will meet for an hour to discuss the topic, the readings, and your responses to the exercises.

Lessons:

      1. The protagonist’s desire and basics of novel structure
      2. Characterization
      3. Point of view
      4. Narrative Distance and Voice
      5. Tension and the Scene

 

Sample II:
(for writers with a full or nearly full manuscript draft):

Plot Elements

Each weekly lesson will include handouts explaining the topic, and 1 to 2 exercises designed to help you develop a structure and outline. I will read your responses to these exercises before we meet, and then we will meet for an hour to discuss your responses, and to talk your plot and outline through.

      1. Plot and Outlining
      2. Developing a Part Structure
      3. Creating a Revision Outline
      4. Revision Outline Feedback

 

Finishing Your Novel Draft

You’ll send me the pages you’ve already written, if any, which I’ll read and discuss with you in an initial meeting. Then you’ll send me 20 new pages of your novel draft every two weeks (or at a longer interval, depending on the client), which I’ll read, provide feedback notes and then discuss with you in a half-hour meeting. We’ll set a target date for completion of the draft, and discuss revision strategies once the draft is finished.

All coaching services are priced at $100 per hour, but discounted packages are available.

Contact me for more information.

 


 

Articles and Testimonials

My former student Anna Williams did an interview with me at Dead Darlings filled with writing tips and insights into my teaching style.

Poets and Writers magazine wrote in 2016 about the Novel Incubator program I co-developed and co-taught.

Fourteen of my former students or clients have had their books published after working through an entire draft with me; others have agents shopping their manuscripts around, and still others have been published after we developed sections of their books in one of my classes.

 

Lisa is a wonderful instructor and an astute reader, with a deep knowledge of the craft. She worked closely with me to flesh out my characters and to develop each scene more fully – for my first and now my second novel. It's been an invaluable experience studying with her.

– Patricia Park, author of Re: Jane (Penguin/Viking, 2015)

 

Having worked with Lisa as both my instructor in a group class and in a one-on-one consultant setting, I got to see firsthand what a gifted and giving teacher she is. She’s gifted in that she has the ability to not only communicate exactly the kind of editorial feedback an author needs, but how they need to hear it. I highly recommend Lisa for anyone wanting to get his or her manuscript to the next level, polished for publication, or anywhere in between!

– Jennie Wood, author of A Boy Like Me (215 Ink, 2014) and the Flutter comic series (215 Ink, 2013 – 2017; to be re-released by Dark Horse Comics in 2018)

 

Lisa Borders has a keen eye for the inner workings of a novel—what can bring a manuscript to life and what can kill it if left to molder undetected. She leads with an open mind and is always willing to listen, granting there are many paths to a finished book. I loved working with her.

– E.B. Moore, author of An Unseemly Wife (Penguin/Berkley, 2014) and Stones in the Road (Penguin/Berkley, 2015)

 

Lisa is a fantastic editor who offers experience, a keen eye, and enthusiasm. She has a wonderful ability to pinpoint trouble areas in a manuscript, while identifying the parts that work best and why. She understands the nuts and bolts of creating and refining a novel. She helped me revise the mystery that is now a multiple-book series. You’d be hard pressed to find a better editor. Hire her.

– Stephanie Gayle, author of Idyll Threats, Idyll Fears and Idyll Hands (the Thomas Lynch mystery series, Seventh Street Books, 2015, 2017 and 2018)

 

Lisa was one of the first people to see my novel in its raw and rough form. The enthusiasm she showed for my manuscript's potential set me on a course that would eventually lead to a published novel. Lisa's warm-hearted approach to feedback allowed me to see where my manuscript sang and where it could be improved, from structure and pacing, to increasing the suspense and rounding out my characters to make them feel more fully alive on the page. Her thoughtful guidance encouraged me past the hurdles of revision time and again. I recommend her without hesitation and could sing her praises for days.

– Kelly Ford, author of Cottonmouths (Skyhorse Publishing, 2017)