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PANZ Advanced Non-Fiction Editing Workshop

By May 13, 2010No Comments

The first of what we hope will be several workshops for experienced non-fiction editors was held on 11 May in Auckland. It was a great opportunity for in-house and freelance editors to discuss major and minor editorial issues, under the expert guidance and direction of convenor Paula Wagemaker. Here’s a small sample of responses to the first workshop:

I was quick enough off the draw to secure my place as one of the 12 editors accepted into PANZ’s recent advanced non-fiction editing workshop. The one-day course brought together a mixture of in-house and freelance editors, all of whom had completed an editing assignment prior to the event. The well-facilitated discussions were based around these assignments, but quickly grew into broad, lively and illuminating debates on all aspects of editing (including whether editors can subtly control the population through the judicious editing of books!). Thanks Paula and Linda for the opportunity.

Odessa Owens, Te Papa Press

This week I was one of 12 or so participants in the PANZ Advanced Non-Fiction Editing Workshop run by Paula Wagemaker and Linda Cassells. This one-day workshop proved an invaluable experience, content-editing skills being such that, unless you have a constant mentor, it takes a lot of time and experience to build them up.

In advance of the course all participants were sent a sample piece of a non-fiction manuscript (there were three separate texts in all). We were asked to complete two tasks before the class: first, to undertake an initial assessment of the text we had been given, suggesting what treatment we thought it needed, then later an actual content edit of the text. This proved a clever approach because, amongst other things, it perfectly illustrated the gap which can occur between your first reactions to a text, and what you see when you actually drill down into it.

The size of the group at the workshop was ideal, and we were able to bounce ideas off each other, laugh at each other’s rather pathetic editor-type jokes, and compare experiences, all the while supported by sound and considered advice from Paula, which took the form of mentoring rather than any sort of lecture. To someone still in the early stages of editing I found that many of the traps and puzzles of editing were addressed and discussed — all in all, a very positive experience.

Antoinette Sturny, HarperCollins

If are interested in participating in future workshops of this kind, please contact PANZ councillor Linda Cassells (