Cut, Shape, Polish

Your editing framework for a masterful manuscript

This online course is ideal for: People who have finished (or nearly finished) a draft of their manuscript.

You will:
Gain editing skills that will improve your story
Understand what you need to cut – and add – to your story
Know which characters need fleshing out
Easily identify plot holes and structural issues
Polish your manuscript into a publishable piece of work

Cut Shape Polish fetured image
Where Starts Duration Presenter Price
Online Learn from anywhere at your convenience. To be announced
Learn at your own pace
12 months Angela Slatter TBC
This online course is coming in late 2020. Register your interest below to be notified as soon as it launches.

Overview of this course

So, you’ve written “The End”. Your magnum opus is done, so it’s time to send it off to a publisher or agent, right?

Actually, probably not. The feedback we get from publishers is that the stories which are sent to them are often not ‘cooked’ – that is, the writer has sent an early draft without doing enough editing and rewriting.

The story might have a lot of potential – and they can see you have talent – but you need to polish it more before publishers will genuinely consider it a contender.

You need to be sure that your story (whether it’s a novel or short form work) is in the best state it can possibly be before you submit it to the market. After all, you only get one chance to make a first impression!

If you send a manuscript off too soon, thinking that a publisher or agent will do the rest of the work for you, you’ll blow your chances. You need to edit your manuscript until it’s as perfect as you can get it. By this, we don’t just mean ensuring your spelling, punctuation and formatting are correct, but to fix the big issues: structure, character and pace.

But what do you do when you have a finished manuscript sitting in front of you and don’t know where to start? This course will take you through the process step-by-step, so you can be sure you haven’t overlooked any way to make your story the best it can be.

As well as the basics, like fixing spelling and grammar mistakes, you also need to be certain that: 

  • The structure of your story is spot on
  • Your characters are compelling
  • The descriptions are as effective as they can be
  • Your tale’s voice and tone are pitch perfect
  • There are no inconsistencies in your story.

You might think that you’ve addressed these factors in your writing. But this course gives you the skills to do a true audit of whether you’ve hit the mark.

By the end of this course, you will master the skills to:

  • Identify any structural issues and fix them. You’ll learn how to solidify your story's structure, keep your pacing tight and create a story that works to the climax in the strongest possible way.
  • Create a seamless journey for your reader. This is about equipping yourself with the skills to know what is required for a smooth reading experience. When a reader is jarred out of your “world”, your story becomes less credible. So you’ll learn what to look out for in terms of plot holes, point of view glitches, inconsistencies, and so on. If it’s not easily readable, your story will not hold the reader’s attention.
  • Εnhance your chances of being published. An editor is unlikely to pick up a story filled with spelling errors, infelicities of grammar, formatting errors etc, and decide they want to publish it. If you do not pay attention to the details, you make your story harder to tell (and sell).
  • Ensure your writing is compact and readable. This is to make sure you use the most appropriate words to get your story across. While exposition is an important part of writing – it’s giving your readers the information they need in order to understand the story – too much exposition can become the infamous “info-dump”. That is those wordy, sometimes patronising, often unnecessary, obtrusive and downright boring slabs of information thrown down in the one place with no thought for subtlety or foreshadowing or a skilful reveal.
  • Achieve clarity and communication. We know the message we want to get across but does that measure up to our final manuscript? You’ll learn the skills to determine whether you’ve truly achieved your goal.
  • Make sure the story does what you set out to do. We tell tales to connect, to share and to entertain − ourselves and others. Your story should grab the reader’s attention, entertain and satisfy them, and hopefully resonate and be remembered. That effect doesn’t happen by accident, and learning how to self-edit will help you to shape your story in the best way possible.

In this self-paced course, you’ll learn how to get your work to a professional level before you send your work out to an agent or publisher.

How our “self-paced courses” work

This is one of AWC’s 20+ “self-paced” online courses. But what does that mean? Allow us to explain:


Q: I've been writing for a while and have completed several courses. Should I do this course?
A: Our selection of Fiction Essentials courses are designed for writers who already have the foundation techniques but really want to hone their skills in a specific area. This course is particularly useful if you're at the final stages of your manuscript and you need a useful resource as you review your work with fresh eyes. If you'd like to self-edit your stories with more confidence – you'll love Fiction Essentials: Self-editing.

Q: Will this course help me if I’m writing a non-fiction book or memoir?
A: In this course, the emphasis is on fiction. However, editing memoir, in particular, is very much like editing fiction and you’ll learn many transferable skills. For non-fiction books, it will depend on the subject and style of writing. It’s not designed for self-help writing, for example, but a biographer or creative non-fiction writer could find it useful.

Q: Will I get the skills to work as an fiction editor?
A: No. Working as an editor for a publisher, or as a freelance editor for self-published writers, is a highly skilled job and a short course cannot give you the skills you need to do that. Moreover, this course concentrates on self-editing. Editing other people’s work needs a substantially different set of skills.

If you want to be an editor professionally, the best place to go for advice is the Institute of Professional Editors.

Q: Will I receive feedback or complete exercises to help me know if I’m on the right track?
A: This is a self-paced course and designed for you to work through on your own. It’s a handy resource to have on hand while you’re redrafting your manuscript and includes some exercises to help reinforce your learning. But to receive personalised feedback, we recommend our tutor-led courses. For beginners, start with Creative Writing Stage 1. For those just beginning a novel, Novel Writing Essentials. And if you have a substantial section of your novel written (including a full draft or even a second or third draft), we recommend our Write Your Novel program.

There are also courses which concentrate on specific genres – just check out this website!

Fresh learning is available right now. Transform your fiction writing by purchasing this self-paced course today!

Where Starts Duration Presenter Price
Online Learn from anywhere at your convenience. To be announced
Learn at your own pace
12 months Angela Slatter TBC

About us

The Australian Writers’ Centre offers courses in creative writing, freelance writing, business writing, blogging and much more. Our practical and industry-proven courses will help you gain confidence and meet your goals faster!

Contact us

Phone: (02) 9929 0088
Head office: Suite 3, 55 Lavender Street, Milsons Point NSW 2061

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