Starting to Write Your Novel

Our online creative writing course for all-comers to help you start writing your novel

CBC photo


Jan 17 2018 - Feb 21 2018




Anna Davis




This online course for all-comers helps you kick-start your novel with teaching videos, resources, tasks and a student forum, all hosted on our secure bespoke learning platform. For a great learning package and a taste of what we have to offer at Curtis Brown Creative at an affordable price, enrol on Starting to Write Your Novel by clicking on 'Pay and Enrol' by Monday 15 January.


Anna Davis, Director

Anna is the founder and Director of the Curtis Brown Creative writing school. She is the author of five novels, published around the world in 20 languages: MeltingThe Dinner, CheetThe Shoe Queen and The Jewel Box.  She has worked for Curtis Brown for more than a decade as a book agent and has served on the management committee of the Association of Authors' Agents.


This is our online creative writing course for people who want to write a novel and are looking for help with the basics. Curtis Brown Creative’s Director Anna Davis will lead you on a six-week journey into your own story – using teaching videos, notes, writing tasks and resources to help you plan all essential components of your novel, work out your plot and get started with the writing.

The course takes place on a secure online learning platform which has been specially designed and custom-built for Curtis Brown Creative. At course-end the students will share the 3,000-word openings of their novels and one-page plans with each other and Anna. The most promising student will be offered a free one-to-one tutorial with a member of the Curtis Brown Creative team.

Starting to Write Your Novel – along with Write to the End of Your Novel and Edit & Pitch Your Novel – are Curtis Brown Creative's three Foundation courses, aimed at getting you all the way through your novel, from the germ of an idea to a polished draft and pitch. They're open to all-comers, so you don't have to put your material through the rigorous selection process we use for our other courses. And our online courses are designed for flexible study – you can take part at times to suit you and from wherever in the world you are.

‘Starting to Write Your Novel’ is a course intended to be relevant and useful for new writers whether they’re writing just for fun or taking the first steps in a more serious journey. It offers a taste of what we do at Curtis Brown Creative for those who are considering the bigger financial and time commitment needed for our longer courses. By the end of the six weeks, you’ll have built up sufficient material to use in your application if you decide to go ahead.

What does this course give you?

We’re confident that we’ve assembled a great package. By the end of the course you should have planned out your novel and got properly stuck into the writing.

  • You’ll get six Teaching Modules across the six weeks (see schedule below for details), all delivered online through our secure, purpose-built, specially designed Curtis Brown Creative Learn platform.
  • You’ll watch specially filmed Teaching Videos from Curtis Brown Creative Director Anna Davis (at least two videos per module).
  • You’ll read extensive and practical Teaching Notes from Anna, often using case studies.
  • You’ll have access to additional Resources – uploaded PDFs which are collected in a dedicated area of the learning platform to support the teaching topics and provide useful reference material for the students. These include lists of ‘writing ground rules’ and lists of recommended reading.
  • You’ll undertake Writing Tasks set by Anna (at least two tasks per week) – plus ‘thinking’ tasks – designed to help students explore and understand the teaching topics and progress their novels. Students will share material with each other and the Curtis Brown Creative team in the forum, and can comment on each other’s work. Often the writing tasks will relate directly to students’ novels-in-progress.
  • You’ll have continued access to all of the teaching materials after the course ends so you can refer back to them at any time to help you with your writing process.
  • Students can share work, and communicate with each other and us in the Forum. Our learning platform features separate forum spaces for each teaching unit, arranged in a clear structure that’s easy to use. This enables students to quickly find and take part in discussions and to easily locate task materials they’d like to refer back to. (In our experience most learning platforms used by writing courses offer only one forum space, into which all discussion, tasks, uploaded teaching materials, etc, are poured, never to be found again – a kind of online bucket.)
  • We encourage students to offer positive, constructive feedback to each other in the forum as the course progresses. We’ll be taking a look at students’ homework pieces and each week we’ll be giving brief written feedback on several students' work (the feedback will be designed so as to be useful to the group more generally and all students will get feedback on a writing task at some stage during the course). Across the course we may publish exceptional pieces of work from students in the Curtis Brown Creative blog (with students’ prior consent only).
  • At course end we invite students to share – with us and fellow students – their opening (up to 3,000 words), plus a page to tell us how the story will continue. The most promising student will be offered a free 30-minute, one-to-one tutorial with one of our agenting or teaching team (by Skype or phone). Five promising students will be offered a £200 discount off any of our longer courses (redeemable in the event that they apply for and are selected for one of our main courses). NB: if you're looking for one-to-one tutorials and tutor-led writing workshops as part of a writing course, do take a look at our longer, selective courses – these aren't included in Starting To Write Your Novel.

Student workload

To get the best out of this course, allow plenty of time to watch the videos, read and reflect on the notes and resources, complete the writing tasks and thinking tasks, and take part in discussions in the forum. It’s also important to be working on planning and starting your novel throughout the six weeks. You can watch/read the teaching materials and complete all tasks in a couple of hours per week, but ideally you should consider spending considerably longer on the materials we offer and on working on your novel. After all, that’s why you’re taking the course… At the end of the course, we ask you to post up in the forum the opening of your novel (up to 3,000 words) and a page to tell us where your plot is headed.


Wednesday 17 January – Tuesday 23 January 
Introduction and Reading as a Writer

Wednesday 24 January – Tuesday 30 January 
Inspiration and Ideas

Wednesday 31 January – Tuesday 6 February 
Plotting, Planning and Story

Wednesday 7 February – Tuesday 13 February 
Voice, Narration and Point of View

Wednesday 14 February – Tuesday 20 February 
Questions of Character

Wednesday 21 February – Tuesday 27 February 
Writing Your Opening

Pay and enrol

If you are purchasing this course for yourself, please click on the 'Pay & Enrol' button below. Enrolment closes at midnight on Monday 15 January.

If you would like to purchase a place on this course – or any other Starting to Write Your Novel, Write to the End of Your Novel or Edit & Pitch Your Novel course – for someone other than yourself, please click here to buy a gift voucher.