Edit Your Novel

A 6-week online course

Have you got a complete draft of a novel and not sure what to do next?

This 6-week course will give you the skills and confidence to edit it and take it to a whole new level. What you’ll learn can also be used to edit all the novels you’ll write in the future.

Based on our popular and successful, Novel Creator Course, it will equip you with the tools and resources to ensure your novel is compelling, that your characters are memorable and three-dimensional, and that the reader is going to be invested in the outcomes so they read right to the end.

Designed and delivered by author, teacher and Retreat West founder, Amanda Saint. Bio below.

All of the content for each workshop will be online for you to access 24/7 and work through when suits you best.

Each week, you’ll share some of your draft based on the tasks set for each workshop to get feedback from Amanda and your course mates. In total, you’ll be able to share up to 12,000 words of your draft throughout the course.

Spaces: 8

Start date: 6th March 2024

Cost: £250

Week 1: Structure and Plot

We’ll show you how to:

  • be sure that you’re starting in the right place;
  • tell things in the best order;
  • align your novel to story structure; and
  • make sure that your plot makes sense and unfolds naturally.

Week 2: Bringing Your Characters Alive

How the characters in your novel are conveyed can make it, or break it, and this module will reveal tools to:

  • align your protagonist’s character arc with your plot to provide emotional resonance and a believable character transformation that is driven by what happens in the novel;
  • write complex characters with distinctive voices that seem like real people;
  • discover the ways your characters are connected and how their relationships are integral to plot and character development;
  • uncover how the past influences the present of your story and why what came before is a vital part of character development and transformation.

Week 3: Themes and Subtext

This workshop will get to the heart of your novel and show you ways to:

  • identify the themes you’re writing about;
  • make your characters live the themes you’re exploring so the whole novel is centred on them;
  • use a light touch so that you’re not forcing the themes onto the page; and
  • use your characters’ beliefs about the themes to drive the story and character arcs.

Week 4: Pace and Narrative Drive

Ensure your reader can’t put your novel down by discovering ways to:

  • compel your reader on from the start and keep them moving forwards through the story
  • play with pace to create change in rhythm; and
  • let your reader know information, and keep it from them, in ways that make sure your story has pace, tension, suspense and delivers what you want, when you want.

Week 5: Bringing the World Alive

Make sure your setting is more than just a backdrop for the action, by:

  • discovering how to use the world your characters live in to maximum effect;
  • using your descriptive writing to develop atmosphere, theme, character and plot; and
  • ensuring you’re bringing it alive for the reader in a meaningful way.

Week 6: Fix Your First Chapter

We’ll finish up by looking at the opening to your novel and all the things it needs to do. Everyone on the course can upload their chapter to the course forum for detailed feedback on it.



Amanda is the author of two novels, As If I Were A River (2016) and Remember Tomorrow (2019). Amanda’s short stories have been widely published, listed and placed in many international prizes, and nominated for Best Small Fiction 2023. She’s just completed a novella-in-flash, has almost finished a flash fiction collection, and is now working on her third novel. She also writes The Mindful Writer and The Tao of Storytelling.


From 2018-23, Amanda published 24 books through the award-winning Retreat West Books (Winner: Most Innovative Publisher 2020 Saboteur Awards), a mix of novels, memoirs and short fiction anthologies and collections. She has been designing and teaching online courses, and live workshops, for many years and has worked as an editor on hundreds of manuscripts. She is passionate about helping writers get to the heart of their characters to create memorable narrators that really come alive for the reader.