Finish Your Novel – Eight Months

Get all the way to the end of that tricky first draft on this advanced course, with help and advice from three expert author-tutors and a supportive peer group.


Oct 03 2022 - Jun 23 2023

Online & on Zoom

Teaching via our Learn Platform and live Zoom classes

Selective Entry

We offer places to the most talented applicants

Course Fee £1,500

Finish your first draft with the experts


We are delighted to introduce this new eight-month advanced course for writers already at work on a novel. If you’re floundering somewhere in the middle of your first draft, and feeling you’d benefit from a structured course, dedicated advice on your work-in-progress and teaching on useful topics from expert tutors – plus a supportive peer group and a smattering of deadlines to help you get all the way to that oh-so-elusive ending, then this is the course for you.

Applicants to this course should already have produced at least 15,000 words of their first draft. We recommend Finish Your Novel as a great next step for those who have already taken our six- or three-month Writing Your Novel course (and these alumni will be given priority in the allocation of places on this course). It’s also suitable for people who’ve taken high-level novel-writing courses with other organisations, and indeed for anyone who is working seriously on a novel, irrespective of whether you’ve studied with us before.

We know the first draft can feel endless … It’s so hard to stay connected to your original inspiration and to continue to believe in your work-in-progress and find solutions to the problems that arise. That’s why we’re providing three experienced author-tutors to help you across the eight months of this course. After the first eight weeks of tutoring from acclaimed novelist Chris Wakling – featuring three live Zoom classes, weekly teaching posts in our secure bespoke online learning forum, and a writing workshop and one-to-one tutorial focused on your work – then second expert author-tutor Ayisha Malik will take the teaching baton, bringing new energy to the group and a different perspective on your work – before finally handing the baton to the third experienced author-tutor, Anna Freeman, for yet more fresh ideas about your novel. The course also includes plenty of dedicated writing time to ensure you continue to make steady progress on your novel throughout the eight months.

Towards the end of the course, you’ll take part in a special Zoom class, in which a literary agent and a successful author or publisher (tbc) will share their experience and insights with you and answer your questions.

By the end of the eight months you should have had all the teaching and insights you need to complete the first draft of your novel.

In the ten years since we first launched Curtis Brown Creative, over 150 of our former students have gone on to get major publishing deals for their novels. We’ve had some fantastic success stories across all genres, including Jessie Burton (The Miniaturist), Kate Hamer with (The Girl in the Red Coat), Clare Pooley (The Authenticity Project) and Jane Harper (The Dry). You can read more about our course success stories here.

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 the CBC team are on hand to help students of this course to submit their finished, polished novels to the agency as and when they are ready to do so.

”Chris [Wakling] was very generous with his time, and provided me with some extremely constructive feedback.
I thought he was an excellent tutor.’

Melissa Echalier, CBC alumna


Christopher Wakling, Author

Christopher's six acclaimed novels include What I Did, The Devil's Mask, and On Cape Three Points. Born in 1970, he read English at Oxford, then worked as a farm hand, teacher and lawyer, before turning to writing full-time in 2001. As well as writing fiction, Christopher is a travel writer for The Independent. He has tutored numerous creative-writing courses for Curtis Brown Creative and The Arvon Foundation.

Ayisha Malik, Author

Ayisha Malik is the author of the critically acclaimed novels, Sofia Khan is Not ObligedThe Other Half of Happiness, and This Green and Pleasant Land. She was a WHSmith Fresh Talent Pick and Sofia Khan was a London CityReads choice in May 2019. Her contributions have included, A Change is Gonna Come, A Matchmade in Heaven and The Sunday Times bestselling Conversations in Love. She has written a re-telling of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Part – part of Hachette’s Awesomely Austen children’s series – and the children’s book, Seven Sisters. Ayisha is winner of The Diversity Book Awards and has been shortlisted for the Asian Women of Achievement AwardMarie Claire’s Future Shapers Awards and h100’s Awards for Publishing and Writing. Her fourth adult novel, The Movement, is to be published in summer 2022.

Anna Freeman, Author

Anna Freeman is a novelist and creative writing tutor, and the host of Radio 4’s Sketches: Stories of Art and People. Her first novel The Fair Fight, a pulsating historical adventure set within the world of female prize-fighters in eighteenth-century Bristol, won the Tibor Jones Page-turner Prize in 2013, and is being adapted for theatre by Bristol Old Vic. Her second novel, Five Days of Fog, was acclaimed as ‘Peaky Blinders with a feminist twist’ (Metro). Anna has taught creative writing at Bath Spa University in addition to her work with CBC.


Nine Live Teaching Sessions

Join your expert tutors for lively and engaging Zoom lessons

Each tutor will lead three Zoom teaching sessions on Thursday evenings, covering topics such as how to get rid of writer's block, how to inject pace into your writing and how to deepen your characterisations and nail that pesky plot.

Weekly Teaching Posts

Stimulating posts from your tutors to cheer you on

Every Monday your tutor will post on our Learning Platform with reflections, tips and a general burst of energy to help you continue to progress your writing. These posts will stimulate lively online discussions and may include optional writing tasks for students to complete.

Writing Workshops

Led by your tutors

Across the course, you'll get three dedicated workshops centring on 3000-word extracts from your novel-in-progress (one with each tutor). These sessions will take place flexibily across the week on our Learn Forum and offer in-depth written feedback from tutor and peer group. They are also designed to help develop your self-editing skills.

Three One-to-One Tutorials

Work closely with your tutors on your novel in progress

You'll get a 30-minute one-to-one tutorials with each of your 3 tutors, conducted via Zoom in the same week as your workshop, and based on the same material from your novel-in-progress. Use this time to address specific concerns about your writing.

Industry Webinar and Q&A

Insights and inspiration from a published author and literary agent

You’ll attend a special Zoom class with a literary agent, with an author or publisher. This provides an opportunity for students to ask questions and hear more about the publishing industry and how to pitch your work effectively.

Curtis Brown Creative learning platform forum

Student Forum

Find your writing community

We have developed a bespoke learning platform exclusively for our students. Here you can discuss teaching topics with your fellow students, and share your thoughts on workshop extracts.

Jonny Geller, agent

Help Submitting to Literary Agents

We will support you long after the course ends

At the end of the course all students will be welcomed into our alumni community. You'll be offered exclusive services (such as our full manuscript report - discounted for 3 months after this course ends). We’re committed to helping you submit the novel you worked on with us to literary agents at Curtis Brown and C&W. Whenever you’re ready – no matter how long after your course – we want to hear from you.


We pride ourselves on the tightly-knit writing communities that are established on our courses. As well as getting feedback on extracts from your own novel during the course, we’ll be asking you to read the work of your 14 fellow students in workshop weeks, and provide constructive comments in writing in the online forum. We find this process helps students develop their own inner editor and has a hugely positive impact on their writing. For each workshop week (see schedule), three students will submit 3,000-word extracts from their novels-in-progress plus a rough one-page synopsis to be workshopped by the rest of the group and the tutor. It’ll be your turn to get the group’s dedicated workshop attention three times across the course – once with each of the three tutors.

Reports and Alumni Services

We offer a range of writing services that are exclusive to the alumni of our selective courses, which you’ll be able to access after your course finishes. These services include individual mentoring from some of our most experienced tutors and a range of editorial reports.

Students of Finish Your Novel will be given an exclusive discount off our full manuscript report if requested within three months of the end of this course (discounted from £750 to £700 for a manuscript of up to 90,000 words – £35 extra for each additional 5,000 words).

Novel-writing student

Industry Speakers

(Further speakers to be confirmed)

Application process

Our selective applications process means that you will be writing your novel in a peer group of 15 students working at a high level. Many of our former students have found their trusted readers with us – and form strong working friendships with classmates which go on long after the course is over.

Former students of our three- or six-month Writing Your Novel courses (online or in London) will be given automatic entry to this course – on a first come, first served basis – on completing the application form, provided they have a draft of at least 15,000 words.

The course fee of £1,500 (inc VAT) per student is payable, in full, by bank transfer or cheque, before the course begins. If you are unable to pay the full fee upfront, let us know and we can discuss a payment plan.

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

All live teaching will take place on Thursday evenings via Zoom from 7pm to 8.45pm. (The precise dates of Zoom classes shown below are provisional, and subject to possible change.)

Stage 1

Tutor 1: Mon 3 October – Fri 2 December


Week 1: Mon 3 Oct – Fri 7 Oct

Chris posts his weekly greeting to the group in the Learn forum on Monday.


Thurs 6 Oct, Introductory Zoom teaching session,  7pm-8.45pm

Your CBC course manager and Chris Wakling will lead a welcome session for the group on Zoom, and Chris will go on to give the first teaching session, including an icebreaker writing exercise.


Week 2: Mon 10 Oct – Fri 14 Oct

Chris posts his weekly greeting to the group on Monday.

3 student workshops take place in our online Learn forum based on an extract of 3,000 words and one-page synopsis – with written feedback from the tutor and the peer group. Each of the 3 students then gets a one-to-one tutorial on Zoom from Chris (30 mins) based on the same material.


Week 3: Mon 17 Oct – Fri 20 Oct

Chris posts to the group on Monday.

Workshops + tutorials for 3 students (as described above).


Autumn Writing Break: Mon 24 Oct – Fri 28 Oct


Week 4: Mon 31 Oct – Fri 4 Nov

Chris posts to the group on Monday.


Thurs 3 Nov: Zoom teaching session, 7pm-8.30pm

Chris Wakling leads a teaching session on a topic of key interest to the students, such as how to beat writer’s block, how to get the pacing right in your material or how to nail your plot.


Week 5: Mon 7 Nov – Fri 11 Nov

Chris posts to the group on Monday.

Workshops + tutorials for 3 students.


Week 6: Mon 14 Nov – Fri 18 Nov

Chris posts to the group on Monday.

Workshops + tutorials for 3 students.


Week 7: Mon 21 Nov – Fri 25 Nov

Chris posts to the group on Monday.


Thurs 24 Nov: Zoom teaching session, 7pm-8.30pm

Chris tackles another key topic with the group.


Week 8: Mon 28 Nov – Fri 2 Dec

Workshops + tutorials for 3 students.

A chance for final discussions and goodbye from Chris Wakling.


Winter Writing Break: Mon 5 Dec – Fri 6 Jan

A break for independent writing time coupled with a winter break to help you reenergise.

see more

Stage 2

Tutor 2: Mon 9 January – Fri 10 March


Week 1: Mon 9 Jan – Fri 13 Jan

Greetings in the forum from Ayisha Malik.


Thurs 12 Jan: Zoom teaching session, 7pm-8.30pm 

Ayisha leads her first teaching session with the group, covering a helpful topic.


Week 2 – Mon 16 Jan – Fri 20 Jan

Ayisha posts to the group on Monday.

Workshops + tutorials for 3 students.


Week 3 – Mon 23 Jan – Fri 27 Jan

Ayisha posts to the group on Monday.

Workshops + tutorials for 3 students.


Week 4: Mon 30 Jan – Fri 3 Feb

Ayisha posts to the group on Monday.


Thurs 2 Feb: Zoom teaching session, 7pm-8.30pm

Ayisha tackles another important topic with the group.


Week 5: Mon 6 Feb – Fri 10 Feb

Ayisha posts to the group on Monday.

Workshops + tutorials for 3 students.


February Half-term Break: Mon  13 Feb – Fri 17 Feb


Week 6: Mon 20 Feb – Fri 24 Feb

Ayisha posts to the group on Monday.

Workshops + tutorials for 3 students.


Week 7: Mon 27 Feb – Fri 3 Mar

Ayisha posts to the group on Monday.


Thurs 2 March: Zoom teaching session 7pm-8.30pm

Ayisha leads on another key topic.


Week 8: Mon 6 Mar – Fri 10 Mar

Workshops + tutorials for 3 students.

A chance for final discussions and goodbye from Ayisha.


Spring Writing Break: Mon 13 Mar – Fri 14 Apr

Independent writing time.

see more

Stage 3

Tutor 3: Mon 17 April – Fri 23 June

Week 1: Mon 17 Apr – Fri 21 Apr

Greetings in the forum from Anna Freeman.


Thurs 20 Apr: Zoom teaching session, 7pm-8.30pm

Anna covers a useful topic with the group.


Week 2: Mon 24 Apr – Fri 28 Apr

Anna posts to the group on Monday.

Workshops + tutorials for 3 students.


Week 3: Tues 2 May – Fri 5 May

Anna posts to the group on Tuesday.

Workshops + tutorials for 3 students.


Week 4 – Mon 8 May– Fri 12 May

Anna posts to the group on Monday.


Thurs 11 May: Zoom teaching session, 7pm-8.30pm

Anna tackles another key topic with the group.


Week 5: Mon 15 May – Fri 19 May

Anna posts to the group on Monday.

Workshops + tutorials for 3 students.


Week 6: Mon 22 May – Fri 26 May

Anna posts to the group on Monday.

Workshops + tutorials for 3 students.


May Break: Mon 29 May – Fri 2 Jun

A break to reenergise.


Week 7: Mon 5 Jun – Fri 9 Jun

Anna posts to the group on Monday.


Thurs 8 Jun: Zoom teaching session, 7pm-8.30pm

A final teaching session from Anna.


Week 8: Mon 12 Jun – Friday 16 Jun

Workshops + tutorials for 3 students.

A course round-up, final discussions and goodbye from Anna.


Week 9 – Mon 19 Jun – Fri 23 Jun


Thurs 22 Jun: Special Industry Zoom class, 7pm-8.30pm

A Zoom class for the group, including the chance to get answers to your burning questions – with a  literary  agent from Curtis Brown or C&W plus a publisher/author. Hosted by a member of the Curtis Brown Creative team.

see more

Ready to apply?

Please apply with the first 3,000 words of the novel you’d like to work on during the course, and a synopsis of no more than a page (both need to be in the same document, as you can only upload ONE file in the application below). The CBC team will select applicants based on the quality of the writing sample provided. If you are an alumni of a previous selective-entry Writing Your Novel course you will be given a priority place on this course, subject to availability. The deadline for applications is midnight, end of day Sunday 11th September, and we will respond to applicants by Thursday 15 September.

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