Editing Science Fiction and Fantasy (Apr 10 – May 7, 2023)



$250. How to edit science fiction and fantasy. In this instructor-led, four-lesson class, we’ll discuss the basics of the developmental editing of science fiction and fantasy novels.

The class covers:

  • basic conventions of the genre (reader expectations)—what to do when authors violate these and how to tell when they have
  • why the “what if?” matters and how to encourage the author to ask (and answer) it
  • what we mean by “speculative fiction”’; differences among various subgenres (contemporary fantasy, historical fantasy, space opera, time travel, urban fantasy, dystopian, and more)
  • refining a “kitchen sink” story to focus on an overall central conflict and goal
  • guiding authors who are overly reliant on common tropes (prophecy, chosen one, special sword)
  • working with characters, including helping the author create a believable protagonist and avoid uninspired, cliched characters; dealing with too many viewpoint characters
  • helping authors break free of predictable plots (peasant who becomes king; farm boy who saves the solar system)
  • showing the author how to create a consistent story world and to define its parameters for readers
  • providing guidance for authors who are letting the world-building overshadow the story
  • ensuring believability/plausibility in speculative stories
  • how to help authors avoid dating their stories (as technology changes quickly)
  • problems (and solutions) in editing SFF series
  • and more!

The class is meant for editors who have either some experience editing fiction or who have taken a general developmental editing of fiction class. Each week includes an assignment for you to do to practice your editing skills, with personal feedback from the instructor. We’ll have a forum for discussing the lessons and issues.

Though assignments are due at specific times, the class is entirely online and asynchronous: post to the forums when you have time, ask questions when they occur to you, etc. There are no specific meeting times.