NAW Public Edit 2015

Monday, 15 December 2014

Over several years NAW has developed a live public edit which is a unique literary and Creative Writing event. Richard Beard, the Director of The National Academy of Writing, edits a text of up to 2000 words submitted in advance by a member of the audience.

The NAW Public Edit is based on the Conservatoire Masterclass for trainee musicians. In a high-level music school, about once a term, a trainee violinist will have a public lesson with a visiting professional. The principle is that all practitioners encounter similar problems – same for writers as musicians - so an edit for one is an edit for all.

The NAW Public Edit answers the need for Creative Writing instruction to be genuinely useful, and the NAW, founded by writers, aims to communicate how writers actually get their books written. They look closely at specific pieces of writing, their own, and when it comes to published narrative prose most writing is re-writing. 

The Public Edit is at the centre of the events and courses the Academy runs. Each edit takes about 15 minutes, and then the writers, who are in the audience, have a right of reply. This is not a workshop - there is no general discussion. The right of reply is a useful opportunity for writers to realize what they want to defend in their work, and to ask questions if points are unclear.

The audience can of course give a different view informally to the writer afterwards - everyonein the audience is encouraged to read the edited texts closely in advance. The writers of the edited texts don’t need to take notes – each writer wlll receive a copy of the Public Edit report. Everyone else in the audience should feel free to note whatever is useful personally. That’s the only guide. Most of the points that come out of these edits are applicable to other writers and other types of writing.

The NAW Edit is usually followed by a talk or interview with a guest writer, who will discuss their writing method. This is not a reading. Writers who have appeared alongside the NAW Public Edit include Kazuo Ishiguro, Linda Grant, Kevin Barry, Minette Walters, Sir Michael Holroyd, Alison Moore, Iain Banks, Jojo Moyes, Keith Ridgway, Evie Wyld, Alan Hollinghurst and many others.