Six-Month Online Novel-Writing Course with Lisa O’Donnell
Our popular and intensive creative writing course for 15 aspiring novelists, featuring direct input from the Curtis Brown and C&W literary agent teams.
Sep 11 2017 - Feb 26 2018
For an intensive course with an expert tutor, a peer-group of 15 fellow writers (selective applications process), lively participation from our literary agent team, writing workshops and one-to-one tuition, taking place on ourpurpose built online platform, apply to the Curtis Brown Creative 6-month online novel-writing course.
Lisa O'Donnell, author
Lisa O'Donnell is the author of the Commonwealth Book Prize-winning novel The Death of Bees, published by Windmill. Her second novel, Closed Doors is published by William Heinemann. Lisa won the Orange Screenwriting Prize for her screenplay The Wedding Gift and was nominated for the Dennis Potter New Screenwriters’ Award. She is currently working on her third novel.
Commonwealth Book Prize winner and Curtis Brown Creative regular Lisa O'Donnell will give direct feedback to students on their novels-in-progress via weekly online workshops, one-to-one tutorials and writing exercises. The 15 students will be selected from a broader group of applicants on the basis of quality of writing material, as demonstrated in their applications. Each course module will include specially filmed video and teaching notes on an aspect of the novel-writing process from one of our CBC tutor team. Students will access course notes and videos on our new, purpose-built, online learning platform, where they'll also share their work and take part in forum discussions with Lisa and their peer group.
Our course features live Q&As and advice on pitching with the full Curtis Brown and C&W literary agent teams – something we believe to be unique in the online-learning arena. And the literary agents from both companies will read the openings and one-page synopses from our students at the end of the course.
Our online creative writing courses are all about flexibility, and are ideal for those with busy lives or who are unable to travel to London to attend our courses.
Curtis Brown and C&W have a reputation for launching new writers in a competitive publishing environment, and for developing successful writing careers. And in the five years since it was established, Curtis Brown Creative has seen many students gain major publishing deals – including now-well-known authors Jessie Burton, Janet Ellis, Kate Hamer, Jane Harper and Nicholas Searle.
We welcome applications from anyone with talent, passion and a strong idea for a novel. Please submit the opening 3,000 words of the novel you want to work on during the course, plus a one-page synopsis giving us a sense of where your novel is heading.
WHAT DOES THIS COURSE GIVE YOU?
All our courses are designed, run and taught entirely by Curtis Brown Creative and its team of author-tutors. Unlike many other creative writing schools, we don't use third party providers to supply our online courses, and we have painstakingly developed our learning platform with our design team exclusively for the use of our students. On this course you'll get, direct from us:
• Participation in weekly writing workshops with Lisa O'Donnell and your student peers, taking place in a secure group space, hosted on our exclusive Learn platform. Each student will receive three dedicated workshops on their novel-in-progress across the course.
• Two 45-minute, one-to-one tutorials with Lisa O'Donnell, delivered on the phone or by Skype (depending on student’s choice), and scheduled in consultation with you.
• Bi-weekly teaching sessions on key topics. A range of our popular tutors (see Speakers section and schedule below for details) will offer their in-depth insights on a range of subjects crucial to writing novels through specially filmed teaching videos and notes. Lisa O'Donnell will set homework tasks on the teaching topics and lead discussions in our dedicated forums.
• A day-long session to get answers to your questions about writing and publishing from the Curtis Brown and C&W literary-agent teams.
• A first-page workshop with Lisa O'Donnell, offering direct feedback for all students on their opening pages.
• A day-long opportunity to get feedback from the Curtis Brown and C&W agents on the all-important pitch letter.
• The opportunity to get your 3,000-word opening and synopsis read by the Curtis Brown and C&W book agent teams at the conclusion of the course.
• A secure discussion space to share material and thoughts with your student peer group informally
• Teaching videos, notes and feedback from the course will remain available to participants after course-end
Weekly workshopping of students’ novels
Each week, three students will be asked to submit 3,000-word extracts from their novels-in-progress to a private online discussion space, and will receive comments from the tutor and fellow students (both private one-to-one comments and comments in the group discussion space). This provides focused feedback and encourages students to develop their capacity to self-edit, to read as writers, and to receive and provide constructive criticism.
Weekly workshop timetable:
Workshop extracts are submitted to the tutor and group on the first Monday of each week.
By Monday, one week later, students must have read the three extracts and submitted a fully annotated version of each text plus feedback.
Following this, the tutor opens up the group workshop discussion, which takes take place across 48 hours.
At the end of the 48 hours (Wednesday), the tutor closes the group workshop discussion and delivers all one-to-one written feedback to the relevant three students.
Each student will receive three dedicated workshops on their novel-in-progress.
Students will also submit their synopses and first pages for feedback from Lisa.
Bi-weekly teaching sessions
Opening on the first Monday of each fortnight, teaching sessions will cover a range of issues crucial to the writing of novels, such as plotting, characterisation, point-of-view and rewriting. As the course progresses, new video material and teaching notes from the CBC tutors listed below will become available to the students, and form a library of resources. Lisa will set homework tasks for each teaching module - writing exercises or topics to prepare for discussions.
Agent advice sessions
In a special day-long session, students are given the opportunity to put questions to the Curtis Brown and C&W agent teams in the discussion space, and to gain advice on how to navigate the choppy waters of the publishing industry.
In a further special day-long session, Curtis Brown and C&W agents will give feedback to the students on their agent-pitch letters and show them how to bypass the dreaded slush pile.
The sharing of material with the agent teams at the end of the course is informal. The agent teams will get a taste of the students' work and an opportunity to express interest in seeing the completed novel at such time as the student is ready to send it to agents formally. Students are not under any obligation to send their material to the CB and C&W agents.
Each student will receive two 45-minute, one-to-one tutorials with Lisa O'Donnell. These will be conducted over the phone or via Skype, and will each be based on 3,000 words from the novel-in-progress, which Lisa will read ahead of time. Students will also be asked to highlight for Lisa any issues they may wish to discuss and put questions to her.
Mon 11 Sept – Sun 17 Sept
Teaching topic 1: Inspiration and Reading as a Writer (with Chris Wakling)
Mon 18 Sept – Sunday 24 Sept
Teaching topic 2: Writing from Life (with Nikita Lalwani)
Mon 25 Sept – Sun 1 Oct
Mon 2 Oct– Sun 8 Oct
Teaching topic 3: Openings (with Lisa O’Donnell)
Mon 9 Oct – Sun 15 Oct
Mon 16 Oct – Sun 22 Oct
Teaching topic 4: Story, Plotting and Planning (with Chris Wakling)
Mon 23 Oct – Sun 29 Oct
Mon 30 Oct – Sun 5 Nov
Teaching topic 5: Voice and Narrative Point of view (with Nikita Lalwani)
Mon 6 Nov – Sun 12 Nov
Mon 13 Nov – Sun 19 Nov
Teaching topic 6: Planning and Research (with Jake Arnott)
Mon 20 Nov – Sun 26 Nov
Mon 27 Nov – Sun 3 Dec
Teaching topic 7: Characterisation (with Suzannah Dunn)
Mon 4 Dec – Sun 10 Dec
Mon 11 Dec – Sun 17 Dec
Teaching topic 8: Building Suspense (with Erin Kelly)
Mon 8 Jan – Sun 14 Jan
Teaching Topic 9: Dialogue (with Suzannah Dunn)
Mon 15 Jan – Sun 21 Jan
First Page Workshop (with Lisa)
Mon 22 Jan – Sun 28 Jan
Teaching Topic 10: Description, Tone & Style (Guest Video: Erin Kelly)
Briefing from Anna on The Synopsis (for synopsis workshop in 2 weeks)
Mon 29 Jan– Sun 4 Feb
Synopsis Workshop for 8 students (Guest Video: Suzannah)
Mon 5 Feb – Sun 11 Feb
Teaching topic 11: Endings (Guest Video: Lisa O’Donnell)
Synopsis Workshop for 7 Students (Lisa)
Briefing from Anna re preparation of material to be read by the CB and C&W agent teams
Mon 19 Feb – Sun 25 Feb
Teaching topic 12: Editing and rewriting (Guest Video: Jake Arnott)
First-page workshop with Lisa
Briefing from Anna re preparation of material to be read by the CB and C&W agent teams
Mon 26 Feb – Sun 4 March
Farewell and next steps from Anna
Summary and Final Conversations with Lisa
Mon 5 March
Students to submit 3,000 word opening and one-page synopsis to be read by the CB and C&W agent teams
The course fee of £2,600 (inc VAT) per student is payable, in full, by bank transfer or cheque. Funds must reach our bank account before the course begins. Successful applicants who have concerns about being able to pay the fee in full at the start of the course should email CBCcourses@curtisbrown.co.uk.
We regret that we are unable to refund fees, and would suggest students make their own insurance arrangements if required.
Please apply with the first 3,000 words of your novel, and a synopsis of no more than a page (make sure to apply with the first 3,000 words of the novel you want to work on during the course). The deadline for applications is midnight, end of day Sunday 2 July, and we will respond to applicants by Friday 6 July. Make sure you include your synopsis and opening in the same document, as you can only upload ONE file as part of the application below. If you encounter any problems during the application process, or have any more questions about the course, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.