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.


Mar 21 2022 - Nov 18 2022

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 bestselling author Laura Barnett – 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 Lizzie Enfield 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, award-winning author Jacob Ross, 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.

‘Laura [Barnett] was very engaging and considerate in her feedback and time. I felt she was genuinely interested in helping me succeed and that she took pleasure in teaching the course… She did a wonderful job of replying to everyone’s comments and making us feel like a writing family whom she supported and listened to.’

Zoe Rankin, CBC alumna


Laura Barnett, Author

Laura's first novel, The Versions of Us (2015) was a number-one bestseller, it has been translated into 24 languages, and was shortlisted for Debut of the Year at the British Book Awards. Her second novel, Greatest Hits was published in 2017, with an accompanying soundtrack album by the musician Kathryn Williams. Her third novel, Gifts was published in 2021. She delivered a TedX talk on originality in fiction, and worked as a writing mentor for the charity Arts Emergency. She is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University's Writing School. Laura has taught many novel-writing courses for CBC in London and online, and she currently mentors members of our alumni community.

Lizzie Enfield, Author

Lizzie Enfield is a journalist and regular contributor to national newspapers, magazines and radio. She has written five novels, the latest two published as Elizabeth Enfield, and has had short stories broadcast on Radio Four and published in various magazines. She has taught for the Arvon Foundation, at the Writers Room in Brighton, and at various universities and colleges in addition to her work at CBC. She also writes a monthly writing column for Writing Magazine and is the author of Finish Your Book: How to Complete Your Half-Written Novel. Lizzie is a regular chair/interviewer at literary events, when not appearing to talk about her own books.

Jacob Ross, Author

Jacob Ross is a novelist, short story writer, editor and anthologist. Ross tutors Narrative Craft internationally. His crime novel The Bone Readers won the inaugural Jhalak Prize in 2017. His literary novel Pynter Bender was shortlisted for the 2009 Commonwealth Writers Regional Prize and selected as one of the British Authors’ Club’s top three Best First Novels. Ross’s collected short fiction Tell No-One About This was listed by the 2017 Bocas Literary Prize among the best Caribbean fictional works. His most recent crime novel Black Rain Falling was published in spring 2020. Jacob Ross is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Associate Fiction Editor at Peepal Tree Press.


Nine Live Teaching Sessions

Join your expert tutors for lively and engaging Zoom lessons

Each tutor will lead three Zoom teaching sessions on Tuesday 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)

Applications now closed

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 Tuesday 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 21 March – Fri 3 June


Week 1: Mon 21 March – Fri 25 March

Laura posts her weekly greeting to the group in the Learn forum on Monday.


Tues 22 March, Introductory Zoom teaching session,  7pm-8.45pm

Anna Davis and Laura Barnett will lead a welcome session for the group on Zoom, and Laura will go on to give the first teaching session, including an icebreaker writing exercise.


Week 2: Mon 28 March – Fri 1 April

Laura posts her 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 Laura (30 mins) based on the same material.


Week 3: Mon 4 April – Fri 8 April

Laura posts to the group on Monday.

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


Easter Break: Mon 11 April– Fri 15 April


Week 4: Tues 19 April – Fri 22 April

Laura posts to the group on Monday.


Tues 19 April: Zoom teaching session, 7pm-8.30pm

Laura Barnett 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 25 April – Fri 29 April

Laura posts to the group on Monday.

Workshops + tutorials for 3 students.


Week 6: Tues 3 May – Fri 6 May

Laura posts to the group on Tuesday.

Workshops + tutorials for 3 students.


Week 7: Mon 9 May – Fri 13 May

Laura posts to the group on Monday.


Tues 10 May: Zoom teaching session, 7pm-8.30pm

Laura tackles another key topic with the group.


Week 8: Mon 16 May – Fri 20 May

Workshops + tutorials for 3 students.

A chance for final discussions and goodbye from Laura Barnett


Spring Writing Break: Mon 23 May – Fri 3 June

A fortnight of independent writing time.

see more

Stage 2

Tutor 2: Mon 6 June – Fri 9 September


Week 1: Mon 6 June – Fri 10 June

Greetings in the forum from Lizzie Enfield.


Tues 7 June: Zoom teaching session, 7pm-8.30pm 

Lizzie leads their first teaching session with the group, covering a helpful topic.


Week 2 – Mon 13 June – Fri 17 June

Lizzie posts to the group on Monday.

Workshops + tutorials for 3 students.


Week 3 – Mon 20 June – Fri 25 June

Lizzie posts to the group on Monday.

Workshops + tutorials for 3 students.


Week 4: Mon 27 June – Fri 1 July

Lizzie posts to the group on Monday.


Tues 28 June: Zoom teaching session, 7pm-8.30pm

Lizzie tackles another important topic with the group.


Week 5: Mon 4 July – Fri 8 July

Lizzie posts to the group on Monday.

Workshops + tutorials for 3 students.


Week 6: Mon 11 July – Fri 15 July

Lizzie posts to the group on Monday.

Workshops + tutorials for 3 students.


Week 7: Mon 18 July – Fri 22 July

Lizzie posts to the group on Monday.


Tues 19 July: Zoom teaching session 7pm-8.30pm

Lizzie leads on another key topic.


Week 8: Mon 25 July – Fri 29 July

Workshops + tutorials for 3 students.

A chance for final discussions and goodbye from Lizzie.


Summer Writing Break: Mon 1 August – Fri 9 September

Independent writing time, coupled with a summer break to help you reenergise.

see more

Stage 3

Tutor 3: Mon 12 September – Fri 18 November

Week 1: Mon 12 September – Fri 16 September

Greetings in the forum from Jacob Ross.


Tues 13 Sept: Zoom teaching session, 7pm-8.30pm

Jacob covers a useful topic with the group.


Week 2: Mon 19 September – Fri 23 September

Jacob posts to the group on Monday.

Workshops + tutorials for 3 students.


Week 3: Mon 26 September – Fri 30 September

Jacob posts to the group on Monday.

Workshops + tutorials for 3 students.


Week 4 – Mon 3 October – Fri 7 October

Jacob posts to the group on Monday.


Tues 4 Oct: Zoom teaching session, 7pm-8.30pm

Jacob tackles another key topic with the group.


Week 5: Mon 10 October – Fri 14 October

Jacob posts to the group on Monday.

Workshops + tutorials for 3 students.


Week 6: Mon 17 October – Fri 21 October

Tutor 3 posts to the group on Monday.

Workshops + tutorials for 3 students.


Mon 24 Oct – Fri 29 Oct: Autumn Writing Break 

Time for independent writing.


Week 7: Mon 31 October – Fri 4 November

Jacob posts to the group on Monday.


Tues 1 Nov: Zoom teaching session, 7pm-8.30pm

A final teaching session from Jacob.


Week 8: Mon 7 November – Friday 11 November

Workshops + tutorials for 3 students.

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


Week 9 – Mon 14 November – Fri 18 November


Tues 15 Nov: 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 13 February, and we will respond to applicants by Thursday 17 February.

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