Writer Michelle Johnston on the value of completing the tutorials
"I undertook what can be euphemistically called a 'process', going through an intense edit of my manuscript, ‘A Small Matter of Faith’, with Jen Hutchison from Journeys to Words. It was more akin to a scraping away, a peer through a microscope, an examination of each word, each thought, each sentence, all in the service of polishing the story into the best it could be. It was not easy. Where I thought I was finished with the manuscript, I was wrong.
It required a certain courage to step back and listen to what Jen was suggesting, and more importantly why she had commented the way she had, in order to take the book to the next level. In the current publishing climate, these sorts of high-level editing processes are not always accessible to debut or mid-list authors, and to have an independent editor provide what in the halcyon days was done in-house is invaluable.
Jen edited the book, chapter by chapter, always on the end of an email or phone if I didn’t understand, or there was argy-bargy about the intent or choice of word. Where there was not agreement (and those times were few) I was put in the position of justifying my choices, which made me burrow even deeper into what I had written. In a strange way, an intense edit like this makes you understand far more than your manuscript. Perhaps it is even yourself, and the reasons you are writing in the first place.
Jen is tough. Tough in the sense of unswervingly committed to excellence in writing. In this she was uncompromising. The manuscript, however, emerged from the process as a sparkling clean thing, where it was not before. So in the end, there was no alternative.
The joy, of course, was in sharing the love of great language, of concisely written sentences, of paragraphs and arcs and dialogue and imagery all dedicated to serving a singular story. When you are both working towards the same goal, to make the book as good as it can be, the process is, in fact, exhilarating.
I learnt a tremendous amount about the writing process during the edit. I feel I will never write the same way again (and if I do, allowing flabby, clunky, weaselly bits, I shall hear Jen's distinct, admonishing track changes and edit myself before anyone notices). It felt like a necessary part of growing up as a writer.
I would not hesitate to recommend both this process, and Jen. The process is best suited to a completed manuscript, where the writer has summoned up the fortitude and wants their manuscript to soar."
Writer Mandra Baxter on the value she gained
Through her Masterclasses Jen offers a unique opportunity to learn the tools of creative writing that will take your writing to another level. Highly recommended for published authors or for those who wish to take the first step to telling your story.
Roslie Snoxall wrote this hand-written note after completing the masterclasses
Jen Hutchison has turned my memoir writing around. From a long list of places and events and boring narrative, and thinking-to-myself statements - to one with dialogue and personalities and their reaction to their situations.
My eldest son said he was "blown away" with my story so far.
This has enabled my parents and my circumstances to leap off the page by showing how they felt and reacted.
It has been the most rewarding writing class I've attended.