Three-Month Novel-Writing Course with Charlotte Mendelson
The hugely popular and intensive course for 15 aspiring novelists, featuring direct input from our literary agent team, and based in Curtis Brown's offices.
Our intensive Three-Month Novel-Writing Course, running from 16 November 2016 to 21 March 2017, is designed to give aspiring novelists everything they need to make their novels fly. Author and experienced tutor Charlotte Mendelson will lead weekly evening workshops, teaching sessions and one-to-one tutorials.
Charlotte has written four novels: Love in Idleness, Daughters of Jerusalem, When We Were Bad, and Almost English, all published by Picador. She has 20 years' experience as a fiction editor and publisher, and is a Visiting Professor at Royal Holloway, University of London, on the Creative Writing MA course. Her first work of non-fiction, Rhapsody in Green, is to be published by Kyle Books in September.
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: The Dinner, Melting, Cheet, The 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.
The Curtis Brown Creative Three-Month Novel-Writing Course takes place at our London offices – in the heart of one of the UK’s biggest literary agencies. Acclaimed author and experienced tutor Charlotte Mendelson will lead weekly evening workshops, teaching sessions and one-to-one tutorials. And members of the Curtis Brown and C&W literary-agent team will meet with each student to give detailed feedback on their novels and discuss next steps, including industry advice. The course also features four special visiting speaker sessions in which literary agents from Curtis Brown and C&W, paired with leading writers and top publishers, will talk to the students. At the end of the course, the full Curtis Brown and C&W literary-agent teams will read the openings and synopses of the students' novels, and students get to meet the agents and discuss their works-in-progress at a drinks evening.
Twenty-six former Curtis Brown Creative students have gained book deals with commercial publishers. The school has celebrated its first Sunday Times number-one bestselling author – Jessie Burton (The Miniaturist and The Muse) – and several other students, including Kate Hamer with The Girl in the Red Coat and Lisa Williamson with The Art of Being Normal have featured in the top ten. While we can't guarantee publication or representation, we lavish our expertise on our students. The agents of Curtis Brown and C&W are hungry for new authors and actively looking for clients among our students. All workshops and visiting speaker sessions will take place in our boardroom.
The course is scheduled for evenings, in order that we can include participants with full-time jobs and other daytime commitments.
We welcome applications from anyone with writing talent and a strong idea for a novel.
What does this course give you?
We think we've put together a great package here, and we're confident we're offering better value-for-money than our rivals' courses or indeed university creative-writing courses. The course is ideal for aspiring novelists who are serious about writing and it includes dedicated time and attention from literary agents. We are selective about who we offer places to in order to keep the standards as high as possible. Students will get:
- Weekly writing workshops led by Charlotte Mendelson, focusing on 3,000-word extracts from students' work. Students participate in all workshops. Each student receives two workshops centred on their novels-in-progress during the course.
- One 25-minute, one-to-one tutorial based on their novel-in-progress with Charlotte, who will read and comment on a 3,000-word extract from a student’s novel. Students can focus this tutorial on their particular concerns and questions on key issues such as how to develop their storyline, how to write good dialogue, etc.
- One 45-minute one-to-one tutorial with a member of the Curtis Brown or C&W literary-agent team. This will be based around a 6,000-word extract of the student’s novel-in-progress, plus their synopsis, and will include both detailed feedback and an industry perspective.
- Weekly teaching sessions on key topics with Charlotte.
- Four visiting speaker sessions (two hours each), hosted by Curtis Brown Creative’s Anna Davis or Rufus Purdy, and Curtis Brown literary agent Norah Perkins. These sessions will be evening talks from Curtis Brown and C&W agents partnered with major authors and top publishing professionals.
- A two-hour workshop on how to write pitch letters to agents.
- Drinks with the Curtis Brown and C&W agent teams at the end of the course. Students will submit 3,000 words of their novel, plus a synopsis, which will be read by the agents prior to this meet-up.
WEEKLY TAUGHT WORKSHOPS AND TEACHING SESSIONS
The workshops will take place on Wednesday evenings, from 7pm–9pm. Students will be asked to submit synopses and extracts from their novels-in-progress for discussion at the workshop and will receive written comments from the tutor and fellow students. 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. The Wednesday-evening sessions will also include teaching on a range of issues crucial to the writing of novels, such as characterisation, point-of-view and rewriting.
Five further sessions will be scheduled on Tuesday evenings. From 7pm–9pm there will be four one-off talks from Curtis Brown and Conville & Walsh book agents, partnering with leading writers and publishing professionals, with the opportunity for Q&As. The sessions will include industry advice from the agents and practice for the students in pitching. Anna Davis will also partner with a member of the Curtis Brown or C&W literary-agent team to lead a two-hour session on how to write pitch letters to agents.
Each student will be given a one-to-one tutorial with Charlotte, scheduled for Wednesdays (between 6pm–7pm) for discussion of their novel-in-progress, and will be asked to consider, ahead of time, the questions and issues they wish to focus on. Charlotte will read up to 3,000 words of material for each tutorial.
Students will also receive a one-to-one tutorial with Anna Davis, focusing on 6,000 words of their novel-in-progress and their all-important synopsis. Anna will address the material submitted and the plan for the novel as a whole in a 45-minute meeting.
EXTRACTS TO BE READ BY AGENTS
Towards the end of the course, students will be asked to submit 3,000 words plus a one-page synopsis to be shared with the full agenting teams at Curtis Brown and C&W. This is not a formal submission to the agency but a chance for students to share work-in-progress with our literary agents. A drinks evening then provides the opportunity for students to meet the agents and book assistants, to talk about their novels and get to know the agents in a relaxed and supportive environment, and to consider who at Curtis Brown and C&W they would like to send their novels to when they're ready to be submitted formally.
At the start of the course, each student will be given two dates by which to submit extracts from their novel-in-progress (up to 3,000 words each) by email to the tutor and fellow students. These extracts will be discussed in the following Wednesday’s workshop and the student will receive written comments from each member of the group plus the tutor. (So, students submit work and have their material ‘workshopped’ twice during the course.)
The students also submit a further 3,000 words to Charlotte Mendelson one week ahead of their tutorial date – to get the best value from this course we advise students to choose a different section of material from those being reviewed in the workshops. The 6,000 words sent to a member of the Curtis Brown or C&W literary-agent team for the longer tutorial (towards the end of the course) should include their opening, and should be accompanied by their one-page synopsis.
Each week the students will be given ‘homework’ tasks to prepare for the next class, related to the teaching topic scheduled. These will frequently be written exercises and may involve working with material from the novels-in-progress (for example, rewriting scenes from different perspectives, transforming sections of dialogue, etc). Students will also be asked to prepare and deliver elevator pitches, produce synopses for analysis in class and write sample approach letters to agents for discussion. Detailed work will be undertaken on plotting.
Each week the students will be asked to read the workshop submissions of three students and to contribute written feedback as well as to prepare their thoughts for discussion in the next workshop.
Dates and details
All sessions take place from 7pm–9pm at Curtis Brown's offices.
Wednesday 16 November
Introduction and Beginnings, with Anna Davis and Charlotte Mendelson
Tuesday 22 November
Visiting Speaker Session: Jonny Geller (CB) with Adele Parks (author), hosted by Norah Perkins (CB)
Wednesday 23 November
Planning and Openings, with Charlotte
Tuesday 29 November
Visiting Speaker Session: Rebecca Ritchie (CB) and Sarra Manning (author), hosted by Norah Perkins
Wednesday 30 November
Inspiration, Voice and Point of View, with Charlotte
Wednesday 7 December
Developing Your Protagonist, with Charlotte
Wednesday 14 December
Plotting and Story, with Charlotte
Tuesday 10 January
Visiting Speaker Session: Gordon Wise (CB) with Nicolás Obregón (author), hosted by Norah Perkins (CB)
Wednesday 11 January
Dialogue, with Charlotte
Wednesday 18 January
Developing Minor Characters, with Charlotte
Wednesday 25 January
Description and Tone, with Charlotte
Tuesday 31 January
Visiting Speaker Session with Susan Armstrong (C&W) and Sam Eades (Orion), hosted by Rufus Purdy (CBC)
Wednesday 1 February
Endings, with Charlotte
Wednesday 8 February
The Synopsis I, with Charlotte
Wednesday 22 February
The Synopsis II, with Charlotte
Wednesday 1 March
Letters to Agents, with Anna Davis and Norah Perkins (CB)
Wednesday 8 March
Conclusions, with Anna and Charlotte
Tuesday 21 March
Drinks with the Curtis Brown & C&W literary agents
* Please note, teaching topics, speakers and dates are subject to change.
The course fee of £1,800 (inc VAT) per student is payable, in full, by bank transfer or cheque. Funds must reach our bank account before the course begins. 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.