An online course to develop your fiction structural editing skills

The Sept-Nov 2022 course is now full.
For advance notice of the dates for our next round, please sign up to my mailing list

Would you like to move into editing fiction?

In this eight-week intensive online course, experienced editor Nicola O’Shea will guide you through the fiction structural editing process. Enjoy the convenience of learning in your own home, and work within a small group of fellow editors.

Starting with how to approach your first read, the course covers topics such as narrative voice and point of view, character arcs, plot and story structure. You will be able to discuss the manuscript at any time with your fellow editors in a group forum, take part in group discussions with Nicola, and get feedback on your own structural report on the manuscript.

Estimated time required to complete coursework: between 30‒50 hours

(Please note: the manuscript editors will be working on in this course contains content and themes that some people may find distressing. Please ask me for more information if this is something you are concerned about.)

What you will gain from this course:
*  Practical experience of structural editing through reading and analysing a fiction manuscript.

*   The opportunity to write a structural report on the manuscript, and get feedback from Nicola on your report’s content, structure and tone.
*   Access to five weekly presentations and notes.
*   Participation in five group calls with Nicola to discuss the weekly topics in relation to the manuscript (calls to take place Thursdays from 121 pm AEST/AEDT).
*   Participation throughout the course in discussions with your fellow editors about the manuscript and the weekly topics using a private online forum.
*   One-hour individual phone or online meeting with Nicola to discuss your approach to your structural report, or other matters related to fiction editing.

This course is suitable for:
*   Freelance or in-house editors who already have some experience of structural editing and would like to expand their skills to work on fiction.
*   Limited places (by application).
*   Editors must be available for group calls (Thursdays, 121 pm AEST/AEDT).

Length of course:
*   Eight weeks in total: Friday 30 September to Friday 25 November 2022.

*   Five weeks of notes and discussions.
*   Two weeks of reading time at start; and an extra week at end to write structural report.
*   Estimated time required to complete coursework: between 30‒50 hours.

Cost: AU$785

For a course outline and/or application form, please contact nicola[at]

Or sign up to my mailing list for advance notice of when the course will run again

“Nicola’s course was brilliant and I learnt so much. The course taught me how to help an author create a solid structure in their manuscript, to look at the finer details of why the manuscript is not working and offer advice on what to improve. It also taught me to offer advice in a kind and sensitive manner; to remember that if an author can write a book, that in itself is a monumental achievement and deserves immediate respect. This course was the best and best-value short course I have ever done, and I recommend it to any editor who wishes to improve their structural editing skills. Thanks Nicola for some great PD.” – Louise Zedda-Sampson, Novel Solutions

“I was excited at the idea of being walked through the structural edit of a novel by an expert ‒ I’m an academic editor so that was a very new area for me. The course exceeded my expectations on so many levels. Nicola is an excellent teacher and she brings her many years of experience teaching at university level to the table. The course materials were clear and in-depth but never overwhelming. Nicola was genuinely involved in the progress of the group, answering questions posed within the Google group within 24 hours and giving us each a personal call at the end of the course. I very much enjoyed the group setting and being able to share my opinions with fellow editors (this happens so rarely in the freelance world!). I would recommend the course to any editor who wants to jump into structural fiction editing and wants a very practical course. Now I feel ready to offer manuscript assessment and structural editing services in my chosen genres.” ‒ Dr Lucie Bland

“I’ve taken a number of editing courses over the years, but this one is easily the best. Nicola is a generous, knowledgeable and approachable teacher, always encouraging and enthusiastic. There aren’t many training opportunities for mid-career editors, and even fewer opportunities for freelancers working alone to learn from and collaborate with peers and colleagues. If you want to take your editing skills to the next level, I strongly recommend doing this course.” – Abigail Nathan, Bothersome Words

“Nicola O’Shea’s fiction structural editing course is unique in Australia. Presented by a highly experienced editor, the course allows emerging editors to develop their fiction editing skills, including how to query authors and suggest potential solutions. By working on a real manuscript, editors are able to gain confidence in a supportive, nurturing environment. There are very few courses that are as hands-on as this one, and focus on the real world of editing. Highly recommended!” – Annabel Blay, Executive Senior Editor, Harlequin Australia

“Three Penguin Random House editors have taken part in Nicola’s Structural Editing for Editors course. They have all found it invaluable and constructive, both in the way the course unfolded, the feedback given by Nicola, and the work undertaken. As well, they commented on Nicola’s first-rate teaching style and her useful approaches to structural editing. One editor noted that ‘sometimes discussions about editing can be a bit vague and philosophical, but Nicola’s advice, and the tools she introduced us to, like a timeline chart, were very practical and sensible and helped to create a framework for us’. I’d definitely recommend the course to in-house and freelance editors of both fiction and non-fiction.” – Catherine Hill, Managing Editor, Penguin Random House Australia

“Nicola provided comprehensive and useful resources, was incredibly generous with her time and expertise, and guided the editors through a well-developed program. Each week built upon the previous session and the group was encouraged to support each other and share our experiences and knowledge. The course was an invaluable reminder of the importance of clear and gentle feedback. The editorial team at UQP values high standards of author care and attention, and Nicola’s approach cemented our philosophy.” – Vanessa Pellatt, University of Queensland Press

“I wholeheartedly recommend this course to all editors seeking to improve their structural editing skills. Nicola’s thorough and engaging presentations and notes are perfect summaries of common issues in fiction manuscripts, and are a strong scaffold for framing editorial feedback. The course notes and example structural reports have already proved useful in my subsequent editorial work, and I’m sure they’ll continue to be useful reference points throughout my career. Unexpectedly, the most valuable part of this course was the group discussions each week. Hearing suggestions from other editors on how to improve the narrative and characterisation in the set manuscript, as well as examples of their approaches with other edits, broadened my understanding of how to identify and address manuscript issues and tailor my suggestions for each author I work with.” – Felicity Dunning, University of Queensland Press

“Nicola’s course provided me with practical tips for approaching a structural edit and many resources that will help me with future projects, but what I found most valuable was the discussion with Nicola and other editors. The experience has really built my confidence and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about or reinforce existing skills in structural editing.” ‒ Amanda Martin, Penguin Random House

“This is an amazing course, sensibly priced and value for money! Nicola is a brilliant teacher. She has a wealth of knowledge and expertise. I learned so much about the structural editing process, including the key elements to focus on. I now feel confident to take on a full structural edit of a novel-length manuscript. I wish I had found out about this course earlier. As an editor and a writer, I have also been able to transfer many learnings from this course to my own writing craft.” Alex Ness

“Nicola is a fantastic instructor ‒ incredibly experienced, knowledgeable and generous. SEFE is an excellent and invaluable course for all budding editors, I could not recommend it highly enough.” – Rebecca Lay, Pan Macmillan Australia

“Nicola’s course was a great opportunity to spend time thinking critically about the structural editing process. The course helped me to articulate my more instinctual editorial knowledge, and has provided me with a helpful framework to write effective and constructive author feedback in the future.” – Johanna Baker, Harlequin Australia

“The Structural Editing for Editors course was invaluable. I learned so much and enjoyed every moment. It has helped to ensure that my approach as a freelancer is as professional and effective as possible.” ‒ Kim Astill

“I can thoroughly recommend the Structural Editing for Editors course for anyone working with fiction, whether you are starting out in editing or are, like me, more experienced but keen for some professional guidance to work on your skills. Nicola is a wonderful teacher and my confidence as an editor has grown since completing the course.” – Lauren Finger

“Nicola was incredibly professional, friendly and insightful every step of the way. She structured the workshop in an efficient way so that personal studies of the manuscript could be supported with her weekly materials. It was an absolute pleasure to be a part of the workshop and to get involved in group discussions with fellow editors. This workshop certainly bridges the gap in the industry by supporting the professional development of editors.” Tuğçe Akyüz

“I found this course immensely helpful in guiding my thinking around structural editing. It is hands-on, highly practical and the  set of tools and guidelines that it provides are comprehensive. They will be invaluable to me as I develop my editing practice. Nicola is a knowledgeable, empathetic  passionate teacher with a wealth of experience. Highly recommended.” Justin Ractliffe, Publishing Director, Penguin Random House

“Nicola’s Structural Editing for Editors course was suggested to me by a colleague, and I am so pleased that I followed her advice and dived in ‒ Nicola’s approach is warm and encouraging, and her knowledge deep and wide. Structural editing is the big picture stuff that felt challenging for me as a manuscript assessor and editor. Where on earth do I start? Nicola provided practical tools, plenty of examples and offered great ideas about how to delve in with confidence. Immersing myself as part of a group in a novel with some meaty issues was illuminating, and I’ve come away armed with new skills. Highly recommended.” – Lucinda Dodds, Flying Pants Editing 

“Structural Editing for Editors was an intensive learning experience ‒ the course really deepened and enriched my understanding of the whole process, and working with Nicola was a delight. The course was engaging and terrific value, and I would happily recommend it to other editors.” ‒ Geneve Flynn

“I can’t recommend Structural Editing for Editors highly enough. The course material is thorough and clear, and Nicola is incredibly experienced and generous with her knowledge. She also has an amazing knack for guiding the group discussions in an extremely friendly and supportive way. This course is a rare gem for editors looking for an opportunity to learn from the best – don’t miss it!” Vanessa Lanaway

“I’ve been editing novels and short stories for some years and felt I had a good understanding of the workings of fictional stories, but after doing the course I now realise that although I was on the right track, I’d only travelled part of the way along it. The course really opened up new pathways for me in regard to characterisation, structure and plot, whilst at the same time giving me the tools I needed to put this knowledge into practice. I have since completed a structural edit of a novel by a first-time author, one which required intense concentration and careful handling: a task I know I couldn’t have done with any confidence or professionalism prior to undertaking Nicola’s course. I can’t recommend the course highly enough for anyone keen to move into the field of structural editing.” ‒ Trish Cation

“This course gave me great insights into the structural editing of fiction. As a nonfiction editor, I learnt so much that I will apply to my work and as I explore the world of creative nonfiction.” ‒ Desolie Page, Perfect Pages

Over five weeks you will be immersed in the fictional world of a raw manuscript as you critique its plot, character arcs, structure, pace and style. This will stretch your imagination and provide an editorial toolkit for your future use. Group discussion sessions allow the sharing of ideas and solutions, giving you rich material for your final structural report. I would highly recommend Nicola’s course to anyone wanting to learn about fiction editing.” ‒ Valerie Mobley 

“The structural editing course is the perfect foundation for editors keen to develop and sharpen their structural fiction editing skills. Nicola draws upon her wealth of knowledge and experience to deliver invaluable insights on a weekly basis – I can’t recommend this course enough.” ‒ Camha Pham 

“The course Nicola delivered was well-researched, and prepared. The content was relevant and will provide crucial guidance to anyone undertaking a structural review of their own work as well as providing structural editing to others. Of value also was the online delivery method, allowing fellow students to interact. I gained much from those discussions as well as from the private study.” – Dorothy Shorne

“If you’re interested at all in learning how to structurally edit fiction, take Nicola’s course. The reference materials are thoughtful and fantastic, with practical examples, and it’s all structured in a way that maximises both solo and group learning from other editors. The group discussions were priceless ‒ seeing everyone’s different perspectives makes you look at manuscripts in a different way, and learn much faster than if you were just searching on your own. And Nicola’s experience shines through in every step of the course. Her guidance was just what I needed as both a fiction writer and aspiring editor to dive into structural editing and get a much firmer grip on what makes a manuscript work and how to gently provide feedback and advice.” Erica Chan 

“The Structural Editing for Editors online course has been one of the most worthwhile courses I have undertaken in this field. The combination of guided instruction, group discussion and one-on-one time with Nicola was perfect in terms of meeting my needs, and fitting in with other commitments at this particular time. Nicola is clear with her explanations and generous with her knowledge and expertise. I went into the course actually knowing a little more than I initially thought and Nicola helped me expand upon this knowledge. On completion, I felt confident going out and taking on structural editing work independently ‒ which is what this was all about. I cannot recommend Nicola’s course highly enough.” Kellie Nissen, Just Right Words

“There was nothing not to like, and so much to enjoy, about Nicola O’Shea’s Structural Editing Course for Editors! Nicola is an experienced and enthusiastic teacher, and the course material provided an invaluable reference resource. It was great fun working collaboratively with other editors: the shared knowledge and the group discussions were insightful, entertaining and provided a safe and supportive forum for our questions and opinions. I gained a huge amount from this course and as a result have gained a far stronger understanding of the essential elements of novel structure.” Anna Greene, Fixing English

“I enjoyed all aspects of this course and found Nicola so approachable and full of insights into the structural editing process. I would highly recommend this to anyone with an interest in learning more about editing.” Mitchell Jordan 

“Joining the Structural Editing for Editors course was easily the best decision I made in 2020! My background is in journalism and magazine editing, so fiction has always felt way out of my wheelhouse. But Nicola’s inclusive approach instantly put me at ease, while the course materials offered practical tools for navigating all aspects of a manuscript assessment and crafting a clear and respectful structural report. The weekly group discussions are a highlight, helping to develop ideas and fast-track learning. Nicola’s generosity in sharing her knowledge and experience has given me the confidence I needed to step into the fiction-editing world.” Penny Carroll

“This course is brilliant. Nicola is friendly and supportive and provides great feedback. The group is also a great way to learn and to have input from other editors was really helpful in the Zoom meetings. I have to say this was even better than I expected. The Zoom meetings really worked and I highly recommend this course to any one who would like to expand their editing skills.” Clare Vane-Tempest

Nicola O’Shea is an Australian editor with more than 20 years of book publishing experience. She began her career in legal and educational publishing, then worked in-house at HarperCollins Publishers for six years on both fiction and non-fiction titles. Since 2004 she has freelanced for a range of publishers, including HarperCollins, Pan Macmillan, Allen & Unwin, Hachette, Random House, Fremantle Press and Momentum. She also works directly with authors to help them prepare their manuscripts for submission to agents or publishers, or to self-publish. She taught editing at University of Technology Sydney from 2005‒2013, and at Sydney University from 2008‒2011; and has delivered multiple editing workshops for Editors NSW and the Australian Publishers’ Association.