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Editing Fiction

Registration Information | Registration Form | Seminar Locations | Seminars for Editors

Fiction editing is highly collaborative and, first and foremost, involves an abiding understanding of an author’s vision. It is also a process of inquiry in which fiction editors must learn to be detectives, asking the right questions to reveal a work's potential. This seminar will introduce participants to the process of editing narrative fiction, specifically, how to read critically and translate that critical reading experience into clear, constructive tools and strategies for an author to use in the revision of his or her work. 

We will look at key elements in a work of fiction, and how they can affect the quality of the reading experience either positively or negatively. We will examine why some characters live and breathe, while others feel wooden or thin, how dialogue furthers or hinders a story’s progress, why some endings let us down, what makes us turn the page, and what makes us stop reading.

Using a short story, we will try some hands-on editing, followed by a discussion of the various ways to organize the editorial work, and how best to approach the author in order to cultivate the most effective author-editor relationship.


Barbara Berson has been an editor in the book publishing industry for 25 years, first in her native New York City and then in Toronto. She is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars and most recently was senior editor at Penguin Canada, where she worked with both established and emerging authors of fiction, non-fiction, and books for teens. Her authors have been the recipients of numerous prizes, including the Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award.

Today, she is an independent editor and consultant to writers and publishers, and an instructor at Ryerson University’s Chang School.

Wednesday, April 1
9 AM to 5 PM (lunch will be provided) 
Registration – $210 members, $240 non-members (HST extra)
Early Registration (to March 25) – $175 members, $195 non-members (HST extra)
Layton Room, Oakham House, Ryerson University
61 Gould Street