Introduction to Fiction Editing

Who is this course suitable for?

This course may appeal to several kinds of people:

  • those who have never edited fiction but are considering doing so
  • those who have edited a little fiction but would like a little guidance
  • those who have edited some fiction, but want to consolidate their experience

Course description

Structured as an overview of the subject, this course discusses some of the areas unique to fiction – plot, voice, point of view, dialogue and narrative consistency – alongside a few more general but associated topics: how to assess a manuscript, how to work on a text, critiques, synopses and blurbs.

Please note that basic copy-editing knowledge is assumed.

What you should know after the course

This course can provide the novice fiction editor with a departure point to allow them to embark on the adventure that is copy-editing fiction. After this course, you should have a better idea of what to look out for, what rules should be enforced and what rules a fiction author might bend or even break, and the general constraints within which a copy-editor (as against a substantive fiction editor) needs to work.

Availability, prices and upgrade points

Price (members)  
Price (non-members)  
SfEP upgrade points 4
  Book now

Other price discounts are available. See the fees page.

Online courses take between 10 and 35 hours to complete, but you have access to the course materials for 4 or 5 months (depending on the course).

Course structure

Time allowed for access: 5 months SfEP upgrade points: 4
Approximate study time needed to complete the course: 30–35 hours

This is a self-assessed course. You will be assigned a tutor who will be available for up to 1 hour of support (usually by email), but the tutor does not mark any of your work. When you have finished the course you can download and print a certificate that states that you have 'Completed' the course.

The online course follows the syllabus as described in the screen below.

Introduction to fiction editing

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Topics covered

1 Introduction                                                                                                  5 Dialogue

1.1 Preliminaries                                                                                               5.1 Punctuation and layout

1.2 Liaising with the author and ways of working                                            5.2 Realism and rhythm


2 The story                                                                                                       6 Consistency

2.1 Definitions: premise, theme and plot types                                                6.1 Plot, timeline and setting

2.2 Getting started                                                                                            6.2 Character

2.3 The plot: the beginning                                                                               6.3 Language

2.4 The plot: the middle                                                                                    6.4 Series

2.5 The plot: the end                                                                                        

2.6 Conclusions                                                                                                 7 Putting it all together

                                                                                                                           7.1 Critiques

3 Author’s voice and style                                                                               7.2 Synopses and blurbs

3.1 Voice

3.2 Style                                                                                                             8 Final exercise


4 Points of view

4.1 Different points of view

4.2 First person

4.3 Third person limited

4.4 Third person omniscient