Creative writing and publishing

Self-edit your novel – revising and rewriting fiction with Rebecca Horsfall

Ref: SWE08811



About this course

Learn how to turn a first draft into a polished, accomplished manuscript using professional editors' techniques.

Course Description

Learn how to turn a first draft into a polished, accomplished manuscript using professional editors' techniques.

"There is no great writing, only great rewriting" (Louis Brandeis).

In this course you will discover how to approach revising your fiction manuscript in the most effective and manageable way. You will learn what problems and snags to look for in your first draft and how to go about correcting them, the best order to tackle the different aspects of rewriting, and how to polish your prose without losing the spontaneity of your first draft. This course is best suited to students who have written all or part of a draft of at least one novel. However, it may also be useful for students who are in early stages of learning to write a novel and wish to learn more advanced skills.

Great rewriting skills are the most vital tool a writer can possess. During this course you will be led through each stage of editing your manuscript. You will explore how to identify and correct holes in the story and structure of your novel, how to make sure the pace and point of view are working properly, and how to can fix aspects of characters that may not be fully developed. You will also look at how to edit our own prose style to a high standard. The tutor will describe each of these areas in detail, and provide examples for discussion and practice so you can try out the different editing techniques for yourself. You will also be encouraged to share problems and examples from your own work-in-progress, although this is entirely optional.

On the first evening there will be an introductory session setting out the structure of the course; introduction to the principles of self-editing; and to identify the type of fiction each student is writing. On the second evening there will be an informal book surgery for anyone wishing to attend, where students will have the chance to discuss issues with their work with the group, and apply principles learned during the day.

By the end of the course you will have learned how to begin revising your novel with confidence, the order in which to approach aspects of editing, as well as what problems to look out for in your manuscript and how to set about tackling them. You will know how to make a revision plan, and you will have started acquiring the detailed skills of line editing that will enable you to revise your prose to a professional level.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


The course fee includes printed materials, such as worksheets and course notes, provided by the tutor.

What students need to bring

A notebook and pen.

No particular preparation is required but you may wish to bring all or part of your manuscript (either on paper or in electronic format) in order to examine or discuss details from it during the course.

Available to buy

Pen/pencil and notebook.


Rebecca Horsfall

Rebecca is a best-selling novelist who has also worked for many years as a script writer and editor in the West End theatre. She has been teaching fiction writing for the past decade and has worked as an editor and coach with more than a hundred different novelists.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

Courses of interest