Literary Architecture: Structurally Editing Fiction

Literary Architecture: Structurally Editing Fiction

with Joy Gugeler

Sometimes we imagine fiction as arriving at the publisher in a near-perfect form, ready for publishing. In fact, fiction undergoes as rigorous an edit as non-fiction, and often is signed more for its potential than its readiness. Respecting the originality of the author’s voice and work, while still serving all parties with a sensitive critique, is a delicate balance.

This six-hour seminar on substantively editing literary fiction will look past the mystique and empower you to make the necessary edits with confidence. This seminar will cover fiction’s special considerations, the eight specific components of fiction and questions to ask for a comprehensive, respectful and considered job as the book’s first reader.

This seminar will help you enter the world of fiction by

  • giving you permission to make real edits to a created world
  • nurturing sensibility and sensitivity to voice, vision and inspirational process
  • becoming the reader’s advocate
  • understanding the book as experience rather than artefact

Upon completing this seminar, participants will be able to

  • differentiate expectations of form and genre and cater to target audiences
  • relate the author’s intentions to their execution
  • assess and correct issues with plot, structure, character, dialogue, setting, point of view, voice and tense
  • revise chapters and passages by imposing or uncovering an organic architecture
  • creatively rework or develop openings, paragraphs, plot points, character, dialogue and finales
  • translate priority concerns with suggested corrections in a letter to or meeting with the author

Seminar Outline

  • Understanding reader expectations of short stories, novellas and novels
  • Reviewing the eight key elements of any work of fiction and associated questions
  • Examining sample passages from a real manuscript and doing short exercises to illustrate issues and revisions
  • Discussing excerpts from letters to authors that reveal diplomatic tone, clear instruction and process

This seminar is appropriate for aspiring, new and experienced editors of fiction. Questions and participant examples are welcome throughout the day.


Joy Gugeler has more than 25 years’ experience as an acquiring and substantive editor. She has acquired and edited over 80 books for Beach Holme Publishing, Raincoast Books and ECW Press, and has worked in the role of editor-in-chief for three online magazines and as an editorial board member for ARC Poetry, Quarry, Portal and Room quarterlies. She edits the Ralph Gustafson Distinguished Poet’s Lecture Series and up to 10 titles annually for her freelance firm, Chameleon Consulting.

Joy teaches editing in Ryerson University’s Certificate in Publishing program, Simon Fraser University’s Master of Publishing program and Summer Publishing Workshops, and at Vancouver Island University. She has a Bachelor of Journalism and a master’s in Canadian studies from Carleton University, and is completing a PhD in communications at Simon Fraser University.


Date & Time: May 27, 2017 10:00 AM to
May 27, 2017 05:00 PM
[America/Vancouver UTC -8]


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Location: BCIT Downtown Campus
Room 810
555 Seymour Street
Vancouver B.C.

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Registration Closes: May 19, 2017 11:59 PM

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EAC-BC Branch Coordinator
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