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.

I have just completed the Introduction to Fiction Editing course and have very much enjoyed it. I found it both reassuring and challenging. 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.

Jude White
Curriculum snapshot

Availability, prices and upgrade points

Price (members)  
Price (non-members)  
CIEP upgrade points 4
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Other price discounts are available. See the fees page.

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

Prices are exclusive of tax, which will be added automatically at your local rate at checkout.

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.


  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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