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Breakthrough Novel-Writing Course for Writers with Low Income

A funded five-day course for writers looking to develop their novels – with expert tuition, workshops, and advice from literary agents and publishers.

COURSE DATES

Apr 26 2021 - Apr 30 2021

The Breakthrough Writers' Programme

A fully funded opportunity for 15 writers with low income

Online

Take part from wherever you're based

Selective Entry

We offer places to the most talented applicants

Overview

This intensive five-day online course is for people who are serious about working on their novels and developing their craft alongside a talented peer group of fifteen writers. With daily workshops, teaching sessions and writing exercises, plus one-to-one tutorials and an industry masterclass, we’ve designed this course to give you a burst of inspiration and energy so you can push on with your writing.

Across the week, you’ll take part in lively Zoom sessions with your tutors and fellow students as well as sharing work and engaging in dynamic discussion on our bespoke online Learn platform. On the final day of the course, you will attend a masterclass with Cathryn Summerhayes from Curtis Brown, Katie Greenstreet from C&W and two UK publishers, and after the course ends, you’ll be offered a one-to-one tutorial with a literary agent who has read the first 3,000 words of your novel.

If you’re a writer of limited financial means starting or working on a novel in any genre of adult fiction and would like expert tuition from two experienced author-tutors, and an opportunity to meet top literary agents and publishers, we want to hear from you.

‘This course was fantastic and has helped me feel more confident.’

Remi Graves, Breakthrough Novel-Writing Course Feb 2021

Tutors

Jake Arnott, author

Jake is the author of seven highly acclaimed novels. The Long Firm was the bestselling debut novel of 1999, and was followed by He Kills Coppers, Truecrime, Johnny Come Home, The Devil's Paintbrush and, in 2013, The House of Rumour. In 2006, The Long Firm was made into a four-part, BAFTA-nominated series for BBC 2 starring Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Strong. In 2008, He Kills Coppers was made into a three-part series for ITV1, starring Rafe Spall and Kelly Reilly. His latest novel The Fatal Tree was published in February 2017.

Cathi Unsworth, Author

Cathi Unsworth is the author of four crime novels, most recently That Old Black Magic; plus two further (non-genre) novels, all published by Serpent’s Tail. She has published numerous short stories and edited the short story collection London Noir. Cathi is a journalist and editor, has taught for the Arvon Foundation, and regularly delivers feedback to students on CBC's six-week writing courses.

WHAT DOES THIS COURSE GIVE YOU?

Curtis Brown Creative learning portal

Writing Workshops

Led by Jake Arnott

You'll get a dedicated workshop centring on the opening 3,000 words of your novel-in-progress with your tutor and the group, to take place on Zoom, plus feedback notes from your tutor. You'll be offering constructive comment on the other students' work.

Teaching Sessions

Interactive and practical lessons on the craft of storytelling

Each day, either Jake Arnott or Cathi Unsworth will be leading a teaching session focusing on topics to help you develop your novel-writing skills using a group discussion on Zoom, plus writing tasks to work on and share on our Learn platform.

One-to-One Tutorial

Talk about your novel in-depth with Cathi Unsworth

You'll also get a 40-minute, one-to-one tutorial with Cathi Unsworth via phone or Zoom. You'll discuss your synopsis and your intentions for your novel as a whole. Cathi will also have read your 3,000 word opening.

Curtis Brown Creative learning platform forum

Student Forum

The hub of our online courses - find your writing community

We have developed a bespoke learning platform exclusively for our students. Here you can give and receive feedback, and discuss the teaching topics with your fellow students and tutor.

Resources & Notes

Comprehensive teaching notes and reference materials which are yours to keep

You’ll get access to additional resources and teaching notes, including advice on writing a synopsis and agent letter.

Pitch Workshop

Practise your elevator pitch with literary agents

We'll give you advice on how to pitch your novel effectively, and then agents from Curtis Brown and C&W to give individual written feedback to all students.

Industry Masterclass

Join a live video chat with a top UK literary agent and publisher

Students will take part in a special 90-minute video webinar with Cathryn Summerhayes from Curtis Brown, Katie Greenstreet from C&W, Emad Akhtar, Publisher at Orion, and Ailah Ahmed, Publishing Director at Little, Brown. They will discuss what their roles are in a writer's journey and answer your questions about agenting and publishing.

Literary Agent Tutorial

Intensive one-to-one discussion of your novel-in-progress

In the weeks following the course all students will get a 45-minute one-to-one on Zoom with a Curtis Brown or C&W literary agent. They will read the opening 3,000-word extract from your novel-in-progress plus your synopsis and discuss your work in detail with you, as well as giving advice on your next steps.

Helping you connect with agents

Send your novel to us when it's ready

When you've finished writing your novel, the Curtis Brown Creative team will help you connect with agents at Curtis Brown and C&W – just email us and we're here to help.

THE BREAKTHROUGH WRITERS’ PROGRAMME

This course is part of The Breakthrough Writers’ Programme, which offers opportunities for under-represented writers, funded by the Curtis Brown Literary Agency and its agents.

Applications for this five-day course are open to all writers with low income, over the age of 18, working on novels in any genre of fiction aimed at adults.

Please note – this intensive course, including all Zoom classes, takes place live in UK daytime across each of 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th and 30th April. If you are not able to attend at this time, take a look at our mentoring programme and/or the scholarship places on our longer online courses, which offer flexible study-time.

Masterclass speakers

This course features an industry session with literary agents from Curtis Brown Curtis Brown and C&W and expert publishers.

Applications now closed

Our selective application process means that you will be writing your novel in a peer group of fifteen students working at a high level. Many of our former students have found their trusted readers with us – and form strong working friendships with class-mates which go on long after the course is over.

This fully funded five-day novel-writing course is open to all writers over the age of 18, either:

  • unmarried and not co-habiting with a partner, with an annual (gross, pre-tax) income of less than £25,000 and personal savings of less than £5,000.
  • married or co-habiting with a partner, with a total annual (gross pre-tax) household income of less than £35,000 and personal savings (jointly or individually) of less than £5,000.

If you don’t quite fit our financial criteria but are nonetheless very financially challenged, then do apply, explaining your circumstances in the form.

Our form will ask you to make a statement about your income and the reason you deserve this opportunity.

Please upload your application via the form at the end of this page. If you encounter any problems during the application process or have any more questions about the course, please email cbccourses@curtisbrown.co.uk for assistance.

Course Schedule

Day 1

Teaching from Jake

Monday 26 April

10am11am – Zoom classroom session: Course welcome, with Jake Arnott, Cathi Unsworth, Anna Davis and Jennifer Kerslake. Introduction to course + students will introduce themselves and their novels one by one.

11am-11.30am – Jake introduces an icebreaker writing exercise for the students to complete on the Learn platform.

11.30am-12.30pm Students work on their icebreaker writing exercise and post it up on the Learn platform. They will also post up their introductions to themselves and their novels so everyone can refer back across the week. Students are encouraged to comment on each other’s work and chat online on the platform.

12.30pm–1pm Jake and the group reconvene on Zoom to talk about the writing exercise.

2pm3pm – Jake and students reconvene on Zoom for workshops. Jake leads the discussion and gives his thoughts on each of the 3 students’ work for approx. 20 minutes each.

3pm – Students are encouraged to continue the workshop of the 3 students’ work on the Learn platform, by posting comments and notes they have made on the pieces of work.

One-to-one tutorials for 3 x students with Cathi Unsworth – 40 minutes each, by Zoom: these will be set at agreed times after 3pm.

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Day 2

Teaching from Cathi

Tuesday 27 April

10am–11am – Zoom classroom session: Cathi introduces the topic of the day with some teaching on Zoom – then sets a writing exercise.

11am-11.30am – Students post their exercise on the Learn platform and engage in discussion on each other’s work.

12.30pm-1pm – Cathi and the group meet on Zoom. Laura talks to the group about the pitches they will be posting for the agents to read, and answers their questions.

2pm-3pm – Jake and the students reconvene on Zoom for workshops. Jake leads the discussion and gives thoughts on each of 3 students’ work for approx. 20 minutes each.

3pm – Students are encouraged to continue the workshop of the 3 students’ work on the Learn platform, by posting comments and notes they have made on the pieces of work.

One-to-one tutorials for 3 x students with Cathi Unsworth – 40 minutes each, by Zoom: these will be set at agreed times after 3pm.

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Day 3

Teaching from Jake

Wednesday 28 April

10am–11am – Zoom classroom session: Jake introduces the topic of the day with some teaching on Zoom – then sets a writing exercise.

11am-11.30am – Students post their exercise on the Learn platform and engage in discussion on each other’s work.

12.30pm-1pm – Jake and the group meet on Zoom. Laura talks to the group about the pitches they will be posting for the agents to read, and answers their questions.

2pm-3pm – Jake and the students reconvene on Zoom for workshops. Jake leads the discussion and gives thoughts on each of 3 students’ work for approx 20 minutes each.

3pm – Students are encouraged to continue the workshop of the 3 students’ work on the Learn platform, by posting comments and notes they have made on the pieces of work.

One-to-one tutorials for 3 x students with Cathi Unsworth – 40 minutes each, by Zoom: these will be set at agreed times after 3pm.

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Day 4

Teaching from Cathi

Thursday 29 April

10am–11am – Zoom classroom session: Cathi introduces the topic of the day with some teaching on Zoom – then sets a writing exercise.

11am-11.30am – Students post their exercise on the Learn platform and engage in discussion on each other’s work.

12.30pm-1pm – Cathi and the group meet on Zoom. Laura talks to the group about the pitches they will be posting for the agents to read, and answers their questions.

2pm-3pm – Jake and the students reconvene on Zoom for workshops. Jake leads the discussion and gives thoughts on each of 3 students’ work for approx 20 minutes each.

3pm – Students are encouraged to continue the workshop of the 3 students’ work on the Learn platform, by posting comments and notes they have made on the pieces of work.

One-to-one tutorials for 3 x students with Cathi Unsworth – 40 minutes each, by Zoom: these will be set at agreed times after 3pm.

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Day 5

Pitching, Agents and Publishers

Friday 30 April

10am – The students post up their pitches for the agents to see. The agents from Curtis Brown and C&W will comment on these during the morning.

10am–11am – Jake and students join Zoom for workshops. Jake leads the discussion and gives his thoughts on each of the 3 students’ work for approx. 20 minutes each.

11am  – Students are encouraged to continue the workshop of the 3 students’ work on the Learn platform, posting comments and any notes they made on the three pieces of work.

One-to-one tutorials for 3 x students with Cathi Unsworth – 40 minutes each, by Zoom: these will be set at agreed times in the morning.

2.00pm – 2.45pm – Conclusions session with Jake and Cathi on Zoom. Course round-up and confidence-building.

3.00pm–4.30pm – Industry Masterclass – Cathryn Summerhayes from Curtis Brown, Katie Greenstreet from C&W, Emad Akhtar, Publisher at Orion, and Ailah Ahmed, Publishing Director at Little, Brown, will talk to the group about what they look for in a debut novel and answer questions on the agent’s/editor’s roles and the publishing landscape. They will give each student the chance to talk about their work and give verbal feedback in a supportive environment. Hosted by Jennifer Kerslake.

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Ready to Apply?

Applications to this course are now closed.

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