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 copyediting 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 copyediting 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 copyeditor (as against a substantive fiction editor) needs to work.

A student's view:

"I have just completed the Introduction to Fiction Editing course and have very much enjoyed it. I found it both reassuring (the elements that are more familiar and therefore I found easier) and challenging (the less familiar elements). The Study Notes are clear. I have learned a lot from doing the exercises and also from reviewing the model answers and commentaries, as well as from the contributions of others who have taken the course.
The course has sharpened up some of the processes that I go through in the first stages of working on a novel, and that is benefitting my work overall. It has also helped me to identify some weaknesses that I will continue to work on. I have always been very clear that I do not have the skills for structural editing so it has been interesting to see comments in the model answers and commentaries where the boundary between copy-editing and structural editing is not always clear-cut and where a copy-editor may have to make a judgement about what they do or what they feed back to the author."

Jude White

Availability, prices and upgrade points

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

Other price discounts are available. See the fees page.

Online courses take between 10 and 45 hours to complete, depending on the course, but you have access to the course materials for 6 months.

Please be aware that the CIEP has now moved all its online courses to a new learning platform. Courses begun on the old platform will only be available until 31 December 2023, so please make sure that you complete them before the cut-off date. Extensions cannot be transferred to the new platform.

Course structure

Time allowed for access: 5 months CIEP 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 course follows the syllabus as described in the screen below.

Introduction to fiction editing

Topics covered

  1. Introduction
    1.1 Preliminaries
    1.2 Liaising with the author and ways of working
  2. The story
    2.1 Definitions: premise, theme and plot types
    2.2 Getting started
    2.3 The plot: the beginning
    2.4 The plot: the middle
    2.5 The plot: the end
    2.6 Conclusions
  3. Author’s voice and style
    3.1 Voice
    3.2 Style
  4. Points of view
    4.1 Different points of view
    4.2 First person
    4.3 Third person limited
    4.4 Third person omniscient
  1. Dialogue
    5.1 Punctuation and layout
    5.2 Realism and rhythm
  2. Consistency
    6.1 Plot, timeline and setting
    6.2 Character
    6.3 Language
    6.4 Series
  3. Putting it all together
    7.1 Critiques
    7.2 Synopses and blurbs
  4. Final exercise

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