Teaching and Mentoring
Advanced and beginning novel writing courses, as well as one week courses on plotting and more are taught online through UCLA Writers Program and through Stanford University. One-on-one mentoring/manuscript consultation is also available, either through UCLA or privately. Please see the following links for more details and/or contact me for more information.
Once you've finished your novel, you're too close to the material to really see the story holes and other flaws. I work with story structure because 99% of the novels I have worked on for agents (or privately) didn't begin to work until the structure worked. This is work I love and I approach it as a novelist, writing teacher, and book critic.
John Irving doesn't write without knowing the shape of his novel, and neither should you. Many times it is helpful to have a professional look at your detailed (10 to 30 pages) synopsis to find story holes, deepen character arcs, add in reveals and moral choices, and more.
Limited to just four students, we video chat for an hour every week, and talk about class work and assignments through group emails. The class is designed to take you from premise to basic synopsis. Taught with Jeff Lyons from storygeeks.com
Whole Novel/Memoir/Nonfiction Book
I read your novel thoroughly and track change it, as well as supplying a detailed editorial letter. I focus on character arcs, story holes, reversals and reveals, moral choices, theme, pacing, and more. Because the editor/writer relationship has to be perfect, I offer writers a free edit of the first two pages of the book.
Please contact me for pricing details and for more information.
"Caroline Leavitt is more than a gifted author and a talented editor...she is the champion, creative confidant, and literary magician that every writer dreams of having in their corner. When my first novel, The Memory Thief, was still in draft form, she spotted its potential and helped me work through thorny issues of plot and character with an incisive red pen and a kind heart. That novel went on to become a Target Emerging Authors Pick and a New York Times bestseller--and I am convinced that a large part of its success is due to Caroline's encouragement. I recommend her editorial services to emerging writers every chance I get."
Emily Colin, New York Times Bestselling Author and Targets Emerging Authors Pick of the Memory Thief
Caroline Leavitt has been a fabulous reader and editor for my work. She has always given me thoughtful, insightful criticism while at the same time being a real cheerleader and helping me stay positive about my work. When some chapters were cut out of my new novel, Gateway to the Moon, that was just published by Knopf Doubleday Caroline told me to pull those chapters together into a short story and that they were brilliant. I would never have done so without her advice. I didn't "see" it. But Caroline did and the story just appeared in a national magazine, "Narrative," as their Story-of-The-Week. I wouldn't hesitate to ask Caroline to read anything I needed help with and also she is extremely fast, always reliable, and supportive of writers in their work. She has my highest recommendation,.
Mary Morris - receipt of Rome Prize in Literature and Ainsfield-Wolf Award in fiction 2016. Author of Gateway to the Moon (Knopf Doubleday)
My then-new agent, Marly Rusoff, sent my manuscript for The Wednesday Sisters to Caroline, for her advice on getting the story started a little faster. Caroline was not only amazingly helpful, but also absolutely delightful. A manuscript that had been passed on by the publisher of my first novel, Saint Martin’s Press, before Caroline helped me, went on to sell at auction to Random House/Ballantine for a generous advance; it became a New York Times and USA Today bestseller, and was named by Entertainment Weekly as one of the twenty-five best friendship novels of all time, on a list that included Harry Potter, The Three Musketeers, The Group, and Crossing to Safety. Being able to take a manuscript and make it stronger while at the same time honoring the author’s voice and idea of the book is a rare talent, and Caroline has it. I would recommend her to anyone looking for help editing help.
Meg Waite Clayton, New York Times Bestselling author of The Wednesday Sisters and the Race for Paris
Caroline Leavitt is the penultimate writer’s writer. In the more than ten years I’ve known her as a colleague, I have benefited from her insights and brilliant edits—to my debut novel, which became a national bestseller, and current novel, Strangers in Budapest, which was selected as a best new book in November 2017 by Entertainment Weekly. I’ve recommended Caroline to scores of authors at all stages of their career—from beginner to expert—to help them with manuscript development. polishing of drafts, and strategy. As both an editor and writer, she brings enormous talent and insights to other people’s work, able to see the larger picture and determine what is best for the work—whether fiction, non-fiction, or memoir. As a New York Time bestselling author, a reviewer of books for national magazines (People magazine, for example) and social media platforms, she is a prodigious producer of novels, essays, interviews, and reviews. Caroline also flawlessly delivers on time—if not before. She is a mentor supreme—offering guidance to well-published authors and first-timers as they negotiate the complex landscape of drafting, revising, submitting to agents, working with editors and publicists, dealing with social media writing, and speaking to audiences large and small. Caroline’s talent and depth of experience is inspiring and produces outstanding results for all who enlist her professional help. Her work ethic is second to none.
Jessica Keener, national bestselling author of Strangers in Budapest, Algonquin Books
“Caroline’s insights and advice proved invaluable in helping me put together a query letter that not only generated interest in my manuscript, but also helped me land an agent. And… bonus… she’s a delight to work with.”
James King, Author, Bill Warrington’s Last Chance
"When I sent my manuscript to Caroline for editorial review, I had all the jitters of a first-time author relinquishing my book baby to one of the best authors around. I remember I was sitting in a writing conference when Caroline's name popped up in my email inbox. She'd read my novel. Her first words were Oh. My. God. Not knowing if that was good or bad, I kept reading her critique. She expressed her enthusiasm throughout, oohing and aahing at all the right places. At the same time, she candidly told me what wasn't working, pointing out where I needed to tighten scenes, heighten conflict, and trust the reader. I'm eternally grateful for Caroline's keen editorial sensibility and spirit of generosity. I know my novel is infinitely better because she touched it."
-Nancy Johnson, Emmy nominated, award-winning former television journalist and author of The Kindest Lie, a debut novel from William Morrow (HarperCollins)
I've been in the writing business for over 30 years as a magazine editor, a manuscript editor, and a novelist. If I had to say what has been the most helpful thing in my career, my answer, without hesitation, would be meeting Caroline Leavitt. Caroline is the kind of brilliant editor who makes suggestions that change the trajectory of your career, and she does this quickly, without ever crushing your soul. She has been instrumental in shaping up my manuscripts, connecting me with a top agent, helping me write the query letter that sealed the deal with my agent, and later with HarperCollins, as well as attention from Hollywood producers. Caroline is brilliant, careful, honest, deeply compassionate, and all at breakneck speed. To say I recommend her highly doesn't let you know I have tears in my eyes. She has changed my life. She has made it possible for me to call what I do a career.
Susan Henderson, Pushcart Prize winner and author of THE FLICKER OF OLD DREAMS, Harper Perennial
"Working with Caroline Leavitt changed my life. I first met Caroline Leavitt as a student at UCLA. From the very beginning Caroline encouraged me and pushed me to take myself seriously as a writer and to take my work to the next level. She helped me with story and structure, all the while working with my own style and voice, honing it to be the best it could be. After graduating from The Writers' Program, I continued to work one-on-one with Caroline, and thanks to her incredible eye, passion for writing and amazing support, not only did I get a Top NYC agent, but I got a publishing deal with the prize-winning, acclaimed Prospect Park Books. I can not recommend working with Caroline enough, and I will continue to do so. "
Gina Sorell, author of Mothers and Other Strangers, Prospect Park Books, May 2017
"As a screenwriter trying to become a novelist, I found that Caroline was more than a teacher to me. She was a kindred spirit. Not only did she have the chops to teach the craft side of writing, she walks the talk in her own life as a working writer. It's rare to find someone who knows how to teach and who loves writing and who knows how to write. Caroline taught me basic skills I will use my entire career and toughened me up as a writer so that I can "kill my babies" and tell myself the truth about my own writing, good or bad. We even worked on a screenplay together and it blew me away that a novelist like Caroline could be as savvy and knowledgeable about scriptwriting as she was about novel writing. She is a true gem. "
Jeff Lyons, screenwriter and founder of Storygeeks.com and Anatomy of a Premise