Breakthrough Mentoring Programme

Our nine-month mentoring programme for under-represented writers provides in-depth one-to-one tuition and feedback from published authors to help talented writers progress their long-form writing projects. Each mentee also receives a tutorial with a literary agent.

Mentoring will run several times a year, with different eligibility criteria. Each time, five mentees will be selected from applicants by the Curtis Brown Creative team, based on the quality of their writing and of the central idea driving their writing project. If you’re not chosen as one of the five mentees, don’t be discouraged – we offer lots of writing opportunities!

Is it right for me?

This mentoring programme is for you if you are a talented writer who fulfils the eligibility criteria (see below) and if you are seeking targeted, detailed one-to-one feedback on your work-in-progress, plus industry advice. You can apply to be mentored for a project at any stage of writing (from just starting to redrafting) and written in any of the following genres/categories:

  • Novel written for adults
  • Novel written for children (older than 7) or young adults
  • Collection of short stories
  • Memoir
  • Narrative non-fiction

(We may extend the range of genres in future years of the Breakthrough Writers’ Programme).

How it works

If you’re selected for mentoring, we will match you with a mentor from our experienced team of author-tutors whose area of expertise/interest matches the kind of project you’re working on.

On three occasions over a nine-month period, you can send up to 10,000 words from your work-in-progress to your mentor, who will read it and meet with you on Zoom for one hour (on a mutually agreeable date) to discuss it in-depth, providing valuable and constructive verbal feedback plus 500 words of notes each time. You can also use a mentoring session to have an in-depth discussion about plot issues, by instead sending a synopsis plus an 8,000-word extract – or just a synopsis and a sheet of issues and questions to put to the mentor.

The three sessions should be spread so that they happen approximately every three months across the nine-month period (though if you want to have the sessions across a shorter time period – e.g. six months, that’s usually possible if agreed in advance).

Agent tutorial

At the end of the nine-month mentoring period (or earlier, at your request), each mentee will receive a 45-minute one-to-one Zoom tutorial with a Curtis Brown or C&W literary agent. The agent will read the opening 3,000-word extract from your novel-in-progress plus your synopsis. They will provide detailed feedback as well as answer any questions about your writing more generally and your potential next steps.

Help with submitting your work

For all our mentees – when you’re ready to send the project you’re working on to agents, an experienced member of the CBC team will help you submit your work to the agents at Curtis Brown and C&W.

Breakthrough Mentoring Programme for Disabled Writers

The programme will award five talented disabled writers will be awarded nine months of free mentoring from a published author. Plus a one-to-one tutorial with a literary agent. Open to novelists, short story writers and memoirists. This programme will run from Nov 2022 to Aug 2023.

Apply by 6 Nov

Meet our mentors

Mentees will be guided by a published author.

Catherine Johnson, Author

Catherine Johnson

  • Author of over 20 novels
  • Carnegie medal nominee

Cathy Rentzenbrink

  • Sunday Times bestseller
  • Shortlisted for the Wellcome Prize

Nikita Lalwani

  • Longlisted for the 2007 Man Booker Prize
  • Winner of the 2008 Desmond Elliot Prize

Julia Armfield

  • Winner of the 2018 White Review Short Story Prize
  • Winner of the 2020 Pushcart Prize

Crystal Jeans

  • Shortlisted for the Polari Prize
  • Winner of the Wales Book of the Year

Jake Arnott

  • Bestselling author
  • Author of 7 acclaimed novels

Laura Kay

  • Author of 2 renowned novels

Kirsty Logan

  • Winner of the Polari First Book Prize
  • Winner of the Saboteur Award for Best Short Story Collection
  • Acclaimed novelist, short story writer and poet

Yvvette Edwards

  • Nominated for the Man Booker Prize
See all our tutors