Six-Month Online Novel-Writing Course with Nikita Lalwani

With teaching sessions designed for online spaces and flexible scheduling, you can join this course wherever you live, in whatever time you have free.

CBC photo


Sep 12 2016 - March 27 2017






The Curtis Brown Creative Online Six-Month Novel-Writing Course will run from Monday 12 September 2016 to 27 March 2017, and will bring all the ingredients of our successful London-based novel-writing courses to those unable to attend sessions at our offices. We welcome applicants from different countries and time zones – this course is incredibly flexible time-wise and it doesn’t matter how many hours ahead or behind the UK you are.


Nikita Lalwani, author

Nikita Lalwani's first novel Gifted was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2007, shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year, and was the winner of the Desmond Elliot Prize for New Fiction. Her second novel The Village was published in June 2012. Nikita was a judge for the Orwell Prize in 2013. Photograph: Bucy Neech.


Places will be offered to 15 students, selected on the basis of ability as demonstrated in their applications. Our course features dedicated advice and Q&As with agents from Curtis Brown and our sister agency Conville & Walsh – 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. Acclaimed author and popular tutor Nikita Lalwani will give direct feedback to students on their novels-in-progress via weekly online workshops and one-to-one tutorials. Nikita will also deliver specially designed teaching sessions on key topics and set homework exercises.

This course is all about flexibility, and is ideal for those with busy lives or who are unable to travel to London to attend our courses.

Both the Curtis Brown Literary Agency and our sister agency Conville & Walsh are hungry to find new writers and has already made publishing deals for several former Curtis Brown Creative students. Several other students have gained publishing deals through other agencies – and we are happy to make recommendations about other agents for our students to approach.

We welcome applications from anyone with writing talent and a strong idea for a novel.



Our online novel-writing course is designed, run and taught entirely by Curtis Brown and our head tutor Nikita Lalwani, with participation from the Conville & Walsh agency. All students will get:

• Weekly writing workshops with Nikita Lalwani and your student peers, taking place in a secure group space, hosted on a tried-and-tested educational online platform. Each student will receive three dedicated workshops on their novel-in-progress.

• Two 30-minute, one-to-one tutorials with Nikita Lalwani, 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 with Nikita Lalwani, with video material, and homework to include writing exercises, discussion and preparing synopses.

• A day-long session for dialogue and Q&As with the Curtis Brown and Conville & Walsh literary-agent teams.

• A first-page workshop offering direct feedback for all students on their opening pages.

• A day-long opportunity to get feedback from the Curtis Brown and Conville & Walsh agents on the all-important pitch letter.

• The opportunity to get your 3,000-word opening and synopsis read by the Curtis Brown and Conville & Walsh book agent teams at the conclusion of the course.

• A secure discussion space to share material and thoughts with your student peer group informally.



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 to the tutor.

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.

Bi-weekly teaching sessions

Opening on the first Monday of each fortnight, Nikita's 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, Nikita will post video material and teaching notes, which will form a library of resources available only to this student group.

Agent advice sessions

In a special day-long session, students are given the opportunity to put questions to the Curtis Brown and Conville & Walsh 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 Conville & Walsh agents will give feedback to the students on their agent-pitch letters and show them how to bypass the dreaded slush pile.

Individual tutorials

Each student will receive two 30-minute, one-to-one tutorials with Nikita Lalwani. 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 Nikita will read ahead of time. Students will also be asked to highlight for Nikita any issues they may wish to discuss and put questions to him.




At the start of the online novel-writing course, each student will be given three dates by which to upload extracts from their novel-in-progress (up to 3,000 words each) to a private discussion area on our course website. These extracts will be discussed by the tutor and fellow students a week later in the workshop and each student will receive both a full annotation of their work as well as detailed comments from the group. (So, students submit work and have their material ‘workshopped’ three times during the course.)

Students will also be given two dates to submit extracts of up to 3,000 words plus their questions and concerns in readiness for their one-to-one tutorials with Nikita.

Students will be given a ‘homework’ exercise each fortnight. This will relate to the teaching topic scheduled, and could be anything from a writing task to a reading requirement.

At the start of each week, students will be asked to read the workshop submissions of three students and to contribute an annotated version of the text to their peers as well as to feed their comments into the discussion space.

During the course, students will also be asked to prepare pitch letters and one-page synopses for discussion and feedback from the agents.

Students will be asked to contribute to frequent online discussions concerning the teaching topics, the work of other students as well as their own work, and Q&A sessions with the agent teams.

At the conclusion of the course, students are invited to submit their 3,000-word opening plus one-page synopsis to be read by the full Curtis Brown and Conville & Walsh agent teams.

This writing course is designed to be flexible. Students can go on- and offline at times to suit them throughout the period when workshops and discussions are open. Once a session starts, students will have access to the new content, and can act on this in their own time.



Monday 12 September
Teaching topic 1: Inspiration and Reading as Writers

Monday 19 September
First-page workshop for all students
Teaching topic 2: Openings
Writing Workshop

Monday 26 September
Writing Workshop

Monday 3 October
Teaching topic 3: Voice and Point of View
Writing Workshop

Monday 10 October
Writing Workshop

Monday 17 October
Teaching topic 4: Story and Planning
Writing Workshop

Break for UK half-term

Monday 31 October
Teaching topic 5: Developing Your Characters
Writing Workshop

Monday 7 November
Writing Workshop

Monday 14 November
Teaching topic 6: Dialogue
Writing Workshop

Monday 21 November
Writing Workshop

Monday 28 November
Teaching topic 7: Description and Tone
Writing Workshop

Monday 5 December
Writing Workshop

Monday 12 December
Teaching topic 8: Writing from Life
Writing Workshop

Christmas break

Monday 9 January
Teaching topic 9: Endings
Writing Workshop

Monday 16 January
Writing Workshop

Monday 23 January
Teaching topic 10: Revising and Rewriting
‘Ask the agents’ online discussion and Q&As with the Curtis Brown & C&W agents – Thursday 26 January
Writing Workshop

Monday 30 January
Teaching topic 11: The Synopsis

Monday 6 February
Teaching topic 11: The Synopsis (II)
Letters to Agents online session with the Curtis Brown & C&W agents – Thursday 9 February

Break for UK half-term

Monday 20 February
Summary and final conversations with the tutor

Monday 27 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 by 17 August at the latest. Successful applicants who have concerns about being able to pay the fee in full at the start of the course should email

We regret that we are unable to refund fees, and would suggest students make their own insurance arrangements if required.



This course has now closed for applications.