Edit Your Novel the Professional Way

The course

Take your novel from draft to agent-ready submission.

This 18 week online course will equip you with the structural editing techniques used by professional editors, and the confidence to submit your work to agents.

You’ll work in a small group of dedicated novelists with an expert tutor guiding you step by step through the editing process, as you hone your skills and work towards a submission package – synopsis, edited and industry formatted first 10,00 words, covering letter and a target list of agents.

On completing the course you’re invited to submit your novel to a niche go-to list of agents open to submissions from course alumni.

Entry is by application, to ensure your manuscript is at the right stage for you to get the most out of the course.

Meet your course director

Helen Corner-Bryant

Helen spent a number of years in editorial at Penguin before setting up Cornerstones Literary Consultancy, known for nurturing new authors through the editorial process, providing feedback on all genres, scouting for agents, and launching many writers.

Kathryn Price

Meet your course director

Kathryn Price

Kathryn achieved a first in Literature and Criticism at UCL. She is Cornerstones’ editor-in-chief and co-author of the essential Cornerstones guide to editing and submitting a successful novel.

In partnership with Cornerstones

We partner with leading trans-Atlantic literary consultancy Cornerstones to teach professional-level editing skills, based on their bestselling book On Editing: How to Edit Your Novel the Professional Way.

How it works

We give you the theory in the form of videos, podcasts, written lectures and reading extracts. In the case of our live workshops, this includes a live online seminar.

You put it into practice by completing the writing assignments.

You share your work with the small group of fellow writers and the teaching team.

Your tutor and fellow learners read your work and give professional-style feedback on your submission. Giving feedback notes helps to build your skills as an editor - a critical part of the writing process.

You reflect on the exercises with the group and share what you’ve learned.

You use what you learned from the feedback and discussions to review your work and improve it.

Things to know

Edit Your Novel is an advanced level course, designed for people who have the first draft of a novel, either a work-in-progress or one you would like to revisit.

The course is suitable if you:

  • Have completed our Writing a Novel or Finish Your Draft course or equivalent
  • Have an MA in writing
  • Are published and working on a new novel
  • Would like to broaden your knowledge of the publishing industry and submission process
  • Would like to develop new effective editing habits and routines, and take yourself seriously as a novel writer
  • Enjoy the discipline of deadlines and peer feedback
  • Want to join a friendly and supportive small group of learners
  • Can dedicate 10 hours per week for the duration of the course

This course allows you to:

  • Acquire the key skills needed to professionally self-edit a novel
  • Gain greater understanding of industry expectations around genre, market and publishing
  • Clearly identify and pursue your potential as a novelist
  • Use editing techniques to diagnose and fix problems in your own work
  • Think like an editor and get your novel to a professional standard
  • Get to grips with the professional aspects of preparing a manuscript for submission to literary agents
  • Edit 10,000 words of your novel, and produce a synopsis and covering letter ready to send out to agents
  • Further develop the professional skills novelists require (eg discipline, attention to detail, ability to work to deadlines) Increase your professionalism in working with others
  • Practise giving effective feedback to other writers and receiving critical notes
  • Build greater independence, autonomy and critical judgment as you self-direct, self-manage and realise your project to the course briefs.

Session 1: Plan and Plot – Learn about diagnostic structuring techniques and how to apply them to your own work. Find and fix plot problems and produce a solid structural overview (synopsis).

Session 2: Cracking Characters – Find out how to assess character strengths and weaknesses, and flesh out less defined characters. Analyse characters in terms of their role and function in the plot, looking at character arcs and their impact on structure. You’ll make a detailed analysis of your protagonist, including their inner and external conflicts mapped side by side with your plot structure.

Session 3: What is the Point of View? – You’ll explore different POVs and their effect on tension and readability. Learn the dos and don’ts of POV and how to make yours as effective and intimate as possible. Then edit your work to avoid head-hopping and bring us even closer to your protagonist.

Session 4: Effective Dialogue and Description – Understand the purpose of dialogue and how to juggle context, text and subtext. Explore ways to use description to kick-start the reader’s imagination, and blend dialogue and description effectively within the parameters of POV. You’ll learn to red pen and rewrite scenes effectively.

Session 5: Show-stopping Scenes – Learn how to prioritise material so that each scene has a clear purpose and direction, using questions and answers to increase tension and make scenes shine. You’ll check that each scene in your first 10,000 words is really needed and rewrite one full scene implementing the techniques you’ve learned.

Session 6: Page-turning Pacing – Develop advanced approaches to balancing material — dealing with overwriting or superfluous elements, and knowing when to extend/slow down and when to cut back/speed up. Discover how to apply the idea of pacing to your overall structure.

Session 7: Let Show not Tell Lead the Way – Find out how to spot telling in your writing, and why, how and where to dramatise instead. See how to use ‘show not tell’ as a lens to examine every aspect of your writing and learn how to inhabit the ‘show not tell’ mindset when editing.

Session 8: How to Catch an Agent’s Eye – Create an industry-level package to submit to agents; learn how to research and pitch, with tips on how to land on your chosen agent’s desk. Write a catchy book description and covering letter, using an editing checklist of dos and don’ts. Finalise the synopsis you produced in Session 1.

At the end of the course you’ll receive detailed tutor feedback on your first 10,000 words, synopsis and covering letter. You’ll have the skills you need and the tutor feedback to complete your novel edit to professional standards, and the know-how to prepare an industry standard agent.

It’s very important that we both agree that you and your manuscript are at the right stage to get the most out of this course.

As with all Cornerstones editing services, we like to review applications. You can apply online, by completing this form. We’ll review your application and get back to you within five working days.

If we confirm your place, we’ll email you payment options and the Terms & Conditions. Once payment has been received we will email you a receipt and confirm your place and the course start date. You will be emailed a login and link to the online classroom with how-to steps to get you started.

You can submit online through this site.

Join the Cornerstones alumni

After your course, you can join the online alumni where you’ll meet the growing network of past Cornerstones students. The alumni is a friendly group of writers who support each other as they continue to explore and develop their writing.

Within the online alumni area you can:

  • Rejoin your classmates on a private forum and access an archived version of your course materials and forum posts
  • Join in on discussions about reading, writing, editing and ideas on our general discussion forum. This is also where we share news and useful info
  • Retain access to our resources area, which has interesting and informative links
  • Chat with other people online using the alumni area live chatroom.

Taking things further

If you’d like to continue on to another Faber Academy course, you’ll receive a discount. Please get in touch for more details.

The team

Meet your course team

Helen Corner-Bryant

Literary Consultant

Helen spent a number of years in editorial at Penguin before setting up Cornerstones Literary Consultancy, known for nurturing new authors through the editorial process, providing feedback on all genres, scouting for agents, and launching many writers.

More about Helen Corner-Bryant

Kathryn Price

Kathryn Price

Editor-in-Chief

Kathryn achieved a first in Literature and Criticism at UCL. She is Cornerstones’ editor-in-chief and co-author of the essential Cornerstones guide to editing and submitting a successful novel.

More about Kathryn Price

Fiona Dixon

Online Academy Manager

Course Alumni

Meet our writers

MÓNICA PARLE

Mónica Parle

Co-Executive Director, Forward Arts Foundation

The course is phenomenally good. I don’t have enough superlatives or emphatic expressions to describe it. I have an MFA in fiction, and have taken so many other courses over the years, but I think Kathryn and the course modules manage to articulate things that somehow I never fully integrated. The way it’s structured is so thoughtful and effective – each module leads so beautifully on from the other.

More courses

Looking for something different?

With Faber Academy

Finish Your Draft

Hone your skills, find focus and cross that finish line.