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Line Editing of Commercial Fiction: Beginning, September 4–October 15 (6 weeks) FA24


September 4, 2024

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SKU: 280762


"Line editing brings out the author's unique voice to connect readers to the heart of the story." —Amber Helt, instructor

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Line editing is one of the most important editorial passes a fiction manuscript undergoes before publishing. Developmental editing and copyediting perch at opposite peaks of the editorial process, handling story structure and grammar usage respectively, while line editing navigates the valley between them to refine both narrative flow and syntactical styling. It’s the bridge that connects the grand architecture of storytelling with the intricate details of language mechanics, offering writers a holistic approach to enhancing their most important feature: their voice.

In this six-week introduction course to line editing, we’ll cover everything you’ll need to work professionally with market-bound authors. Students will receive one-on-one feedback from the instructor on their editing assignments while discussing the coursework and broader editorial implications with their fellow students in the class forum. 

Week One: In the first week, we’ll discuss the principles of authorial voice and how we can strengthen our authors’ voices without changing them. Then we’ll go deeper into what makes a good line editor and how you can prep yourself for new projects. 

Week Two: We then dive into an author’s use of narrative lens and how the psychic distance between the reader and the characters’ minds affects the prose on the page. After that, we cover querying etiquette and communication between the editor and author.

Week Three: In our third week, we discuss specific revision strategies for dialogue versus narrative passages, including how we flow between the two modes of storytelling. In our editor application portion, we’ll discuss aiding authors’ voice designs and how to encourage their creative experimentation while advocating for their readers’ experience.  

Week Four: Next we spend a week discussing sentence structures and the power of punctuation to affect flow, focus, rhythm, emphasis, and intent. Then we talk about the role of grammar in line editing and how to set boundaries between line edits and copy edits.

Week Five: In our penultimate week, we talk about all things “show don’t tell” and how to address this narrative technique in dialogue, narrative, exposition, and characterization. After that, we look inward to discuss showing versus telling as editors within our document revisions and comments.

Week Six: Our final week of the course covers how to package and send your finished line edit to clients in a way that fosters continued author growth, clear-cut expectations for post-project scopes, and overall client satisfaction.

This approach to line editing will most benefit editors of commercial (or genre) fiction, though the writing principles may apply to other styles of narrative as well. This course is perfect for both brand-new editors looking to launch their freelancing career and experienced editors looking to strengthen the foundation of their editing craft.


This course is open to students at all levels.

Amber Helt (she/her) is a professional editor, writing instructor, and editor coach with over 10 years of experience working with traditional publishers and independent authors. She is the owner and managing editor of Rooted in Writing, an editorial agency that works with speculative fiction authors of all publishing paths to help their novels flourish in their competitive markets. Her editorial agency prides itself on strong client relationships and gardener-minded editing, where writers leave with not just a pruned manuscript but seeds to grow as authors in their next project. Amber was the chapter coordinator for the EFA’s North Texas chapter for five years and loves sharing her knowledge with fellow editors. Amber has a BA in English creative writing with a certificate in historical linguistics.

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