Editing for World-Building and Setting (Nov 6 – Dec 10, 2024)



$300 (Members: $270) | How to edit for world-building and setting | 4 weeks | Instructor-led | Intermediate

Though writers and editors have borrowed the term “world-building” from the science fiction and fantasy genres, creating a believable story world is important for any author writing fiction in any genre.

This class shows how developmental editors can help authors create story worlds the reader will happily enter into—not just by effectively describing a particular setting but by avoiding common world-building problems (such as info-dumping/overuse of exposition) and ensuring that the “rules” of the story world make sense and that the author doesn’t inadvertently violate them.

The course covers:

  • creating a realistic setting: the principles of world-building
  • effective description and the problem of info-dumping
  • the intersection between setting, plot, and character development
  • historical, seasonal, and clock time
  • micro versus macro settings (and why both matter)
  • overly used and trite settings
  • respecting the parameters of the story world
  • incorporating all senses into a setting
  • and more!

Each week includes a new lesson and a new assignment to be submitted for the instructor’s feedback along with online discussions about developmental issues.


“World-building is something I spend a lot of time thinking about as a science fiction and fantasy editor. But I wasn’t confident giving advice on how to effectively weave setting details onto the page, which is exactly what many authors need help with.

“Jennifer’s guidance in Editing for World-Building and Setting was transformative for me. Across thought-provoking lessons, assignment feedback and forum conversations, Jennifer helped me dig deep into this aspect of storytelling and see things in a new light. Now I’m able to go far beyond suggesting that authors ‘add more setting details’ or ‘reduce info-dumping’. I can guide authors towards specific opportunities to use setting to enhance the reader’s experience of the whole story. And, crucially, I can explain the reasoning behind my suggestions with a clarity and depth that would have been impossible for me before.

“Years later, I’m still thinking about what I learned in this class. The ‘lightbulb moments’ it triggered for me have become foundational pieces of my editing toolkit, and making suggestions about setting is now one of the things I’m most confident about in my editing!”

– Jake Nicholls, science fiction and fantasy editor at Future Worlds Editing.

Intermediate classes are intended for those with some developmental editing experience or who have taken the Beginning + Intermediate DE for Fiction classes or the self-paced DE 1 through 6 classes. 

The class is entirely online and asynchronous (you don’t have to be in any particular place at any particular time to participate) but weekly assignments are due by specific deadlines.