Developmental Editing of Fiction: Beginning, January 17–February 20 (5 weeks online) SP22


January 17, 2022

Registration is closed for this class

Want a discount? Become a member.


Headshot of Val Mathews

Important Information About Our Online Courses

Our online courses are conducted through the LAMP Consortium on Sakai, a learning management system (LMS). You never need to be at your computer at any specific hour. More information about how these asynchronous classes are conducted is available here.

Developmental editors are all about the big picture. They assess how the manuscript hangs together as a whole, how the story moves and unfurls, how the characters drive the story forward. They are solution finders who offer guidance, not critiques.

This 5-week, introductory course is meant for anyone who wants to help authors shape their stories, develop their storytelling grit, and conquer the boring in their manuscripts. It covers the basic knowledge every DE needs to know to work in the industry, including how to:

  • Increase your knowledge of the craft of fiction
  • Understand the big-picture developmental items to look for
  • Write a DE outline of a manuscript
  • Use the “feedback sandwich”
  • Create a DE checklist
  • Use a DE color-coding system
  • Write diplomatic queries
  • Be solution-focused (give guidance, not a critique)
  • Write an editorial letter (sometimes called a revision letter)

Lessons include handouts, videos, links, and class discussion via a forum and a live Q&A session on Zoom. The lessons explain and illustrate concepts and offer more opportunities for you to practice what you’ve learned. Each module will introduce a DE tool and review one or more elements of fiction.

If you’ve always been curious about developmental editing and want to give it a try, or if you’d like to review the basic skills you need to succeed in this type of editing, register now! Class size is limited as it includes plenty of one-on-one instructor feedback.

Week 1: In the first week, we’ll discuss what developmental editing is and what it is not. Students will be introduced to the big-picture items involved in a developmental edit. In this week’s assignment, we’ll evaluate a short story and create an outline and developmental editing checklist.

Week 2: We’ll discuss the danger of scope creep and tips to prevent it. Then, students will focus on how to suggest structural changes. In this week’s assignment, we’ll practice writing effective and diplomatic queries for the short story from week one.

Week 3: We’ll discuss the author and editor relationship—and how to nurture it. Students will then focus on how to edit for pacing and narrative movement. In this week’s assignment, we’ll evaluate a sample chapter and write an editorial letter to the author using the feedback sandwich.

Week 4: We’ll discuss character development and point of view. Students will be introduced to an editorial color-coding system and in-text comments. In this week’s assignment, we’ll evaluate a sample chapter with a focus on point of view, and we’ll make edits and queries using in-text edits, comments, and the Track Changes comment feature.

Week 5: We’ll discuss character development and the character arc with a focus on character agency. In the final assignment, students will bring everything together and prepare a developmental editing package (editorial letter, edits, and queries) for a short story.

Val M. Mathews is a big-hearted, fun-loving editor at the Wild Rose Press, a small traditional publishing house in New York, and an editorial consultant for CRAFT Literary, a well-established online literary magazine. She also teaches courses in editing for Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada. Val earned an MA in Professional Writing from Kennesaw State University and a BFA from the University of Georgia. Fun fact about Val: She’s been an FAA-certified flight instructor for over 25 years, and in the past, she flew Lear jets for a living.

Refund and Anti-Harassment Policies
Information on our refund policy is available here. All participants in EFA courses must abide by our anti-harassment policy, which you can find here.

Office Closed Monday April 8.

The EFA Offices will be closed Monday, April 8, 2024. We will reopen on Tuesday, April 9. Job postings, discussion list subscriptions, and other customer service requests may not be responded to until then.

Solar eclipse