Craft focus: how to edit your novel

Course Dates: 18/05/24 - 19/05/24
Time: 10:30 - 16:30
Location: Keeley Street
Once your story is on the page, the editing process begins. Where do you start and what skills do you need? This course guides learners through the editing of a story or manuscript, exploring approaches to making line edits, improving narrative structure and more.
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Craft focus: how to edit your novel
  • Course Code: HW151
  • Dates: 18/05/24 - 19/05/24
  • Time: 10:30 - 16:30
  • Taught: Sat-Sun, Daytime
  • Duration: 2 sessions
  • Location: Keeley Street
  • Tutor: Sarah Leipciger

Course Code: HW151

Choose a start date  

Sat-Sun, day, 18 May - 19 May '24

Duration: 2 sessions

Any questions?
or call 020 4582 0415

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

During the editing process, the writer transforms their work from that raw first draft to a polished piece of literature, making it one of the most rewarding stages of a writing project. This course, ideal for experienced creative writers, is designed to help you fruitfully apply the editing skills you learn to your own work and to the writings of others.

What will we cover?

- The stages of a work: first draft, manuscript proper, copy-edited/proof-read manuscript.
- Taking care and making correct choices in line-by-line editing.
- Identifying and solving problems: the editor’s eye, and how the writer can learn from it.
- Learning to read one’s own work as dispassionately as someone else’s.
- Editing to improve narrative/structure; editing to improve style.
- The challenge of truly rewriting, where rewriting is necessary.
- How to trim, and how to cut more substantively.
- The virtues of succinctness and omission.
- How to feed back editing opinions to another writer, supportively.
- Editing to improve the marketability of a manuscript.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Understand the different stages of editing
- Approach manuscript edits with greater confidence
- Edit a section of your manuscript
- Identify and explore the shape of your novel as a whole, and in doing so achieve a bird's eye view of structure, and of your main characters' internal and external arcs.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This course is for experienced creative writers who have a finished story ready to edit.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

- Formal instruction from the teacher combined with group discussion
- Analysis of short pieces in class through group discussion, and editing of these set as homework.
- Individual short writing exercises set as homework, to be discussed and worked on as the shared property of the class.

All writing courses at City Lit will involve an element of workshop. This means that students will produce work which will be discussed in an open and constructive environment with the tutor and other students. The college operates a policy of constructive criticism, and all feedback on another student’s work by the tutor and other students should be delivered in that spirit.

For classes longer than one day, regular reading and writing exercises will be set for completion at home to set deadlines.

City Lit Writing endeavours to create a safe and welcoming space for all and we strongly support the use of content notes in our classes. This means that learners are encouraged to make their tutor and classmates aware in advance if any writing they wish to share contains material that may be deemed sensitive. If you are unsure about what might constitute sensitive content, please ask your tutor for further clarification and read our expectations for participating in writing courses at City Lit.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

Please bring a pen and paper.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

City Lit runs a range of professional development courses for writers including Approaching an Agent and How to Impress a Publisher. Browse the writing section of our website for further details.

All students are invited to join us at Late Lines, our regular performance night for City Lit writers. Students are also encouraged to submit their work to Between the Lines, our annual anthology of creative writing. For the latest news, courses and events, stay in touch with the Department on Facebook and Twitter.

Sarah Leipciger

Sarah Leipciger’s debut novel, The Mountain Can Wait, was published in 2015 with Tinder Press in the UK and Little, Brown in the US. She has had short stories shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, the Fish Prize and the Asham Award, and is a past winner of THIS Magazine’s Great Canadian Literary Hunt. She has also written non-fiction for The Guardian and The Toronto Star. She has facilitated workshops at several literature events, including the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and has been teaching fiction and life writing to young people and adults in prisons since 2003; she is currently the Creative Writing tutor at HMP Brixton in London. Her second novel, Coming Up for Air, will be published in February 2020 with Doubleday UK and House of Anansi Press in Canada. Doubleday UK has also procured her third novel, with a release date TBA. She is a PhD student in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths University.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.