Writing YA & Children’s Fiction

Learn how to write exciting and engaging YA, Middle Grade, and Children's Fiction on our three-month online course with author and tutor, Catherine Johnson.


Oct 03 2022 - Jan 31 2023


Take this course from anywhere in the world

Selective Entry

We offer places to the most talented applicants

Course Fee £1,800

Work on your novel with the experts


We’re delighted to offer this in-depth online course specialising in how to write YA, Middle Grade, and children’s fiction (for the over 7s). Join a peer-group of 15 writers (selective applications process), for three months of expert teaching, special industry advice, writing workshops, and one-to-one tuition, all hosted on our secure learning platform.

YA and children’s author and experienced tutor Catherine Johnson will give direct feedback to students on their novels-in-progress via weekly online workshops, one-to-one tutorials, and writing exercises. Via our online learning platform, you’ll get access to teaching videos from Catherine, plus notes and resources.

In the nine years since we first launched Curtis Brown Creative, over 160 of our former students have gone on to get major publishing deals for their novels. These include bestseller and Waterstones Children’s Book Prize winner Lisa Williamson, YA fantasy author Michelle Kenny, as well as middle-grade authors Struan Murray, Penny Chrimes, Ann-Marie Howell and Jenny Pearson who was shortlisted for the 2020 Costa Children’s Book Award. You can find out more about some of our recent children’s writing 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 will be actively looking for clients among our writers.

‘I loved Catherine’s approach to tutoring. She is so full of energy and enthusiasm and really knows what she is talking about. She tells you how it is, which I really needed.’
Jenny Pearson, former student of the Writing YA and Children’s Fiction course and author of the Costa Shortlisted middle grade novel The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates


Catherine Johnson, Author

Catherine Johnson has written over 20 books for children and young adults, including Sawbones, which won the Young Quills Prize for best Historical Fiction in the 12+ category and was nominated for the Carnegie medal in 2015. Her book Freedom won the 2019 Little Rebels Award for Radical Children's Fiction. ‘Catherine wants us to be the best writers we can be and her passion was clear throughout’ Ian Brooks, Writing YA & Children's Fiction student


Teaching Videos & Tasks

Get expert advice from author Catherine Johnson

The course focuses on a new topic each week. You'll get teaching videos and notes presented by Catherine, featuring actionable writing tips, lists of recommend reading and information on the YA and children’s fiction market.

Curtis Brown Creative learning portal

Writing Workshops

Led by Catherine Johnson

You'll get two dedicated workshops centring on material from your novel-in-progress with your tutor and the group (extracts of 3,000 words, each time). These sessions offer in-depth written feedback and are also designed to help develop your editing skills.

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 week’s topics with your fellow students and tutor.

One-to-One tutorials

Extracts of your novel will be reviewed by Catherine Johnson

You'll get two 45-minute, one-to-one tutorials with Catherine, conducted over the phone or via Skype/Zoom etc., based on 3,000-word sections of your novel-in-progress. Use these tutorials to address your specific concerns about your writing.

Synopsis advice

Expert critique of the dreaded synopsis

We'll draw on our agenting expertise to give you the vital ingredients of a great synopsis - then you'll write one, and get individual feedback from an experienced member of the CBC editor team.

Pitch Letter Session

Agent feedback on your letter & elevator pitch

We'll give you the vital dos and don'ts of agent pitch letters and elevator pitches - you'll then write your own and get in-depth written feedback on both the letter and the short pitch from Curtis Brown/C&W literary agents.

Tutorial with industry professional

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

Near the end of the course all students will get a 45-minute one-to-one on Zoom/phone with an experienced CBC editor or a Curtis Brown/C&W literary agent. They will read a 6,000-word extract from your novel-in-progress plus your synopsis. They will provide detailed feedback and publishing industry advice.

Webinar with a Literary Agent

Join a live video chat with a YA and children's fiction agent

Students will take part in a special 60-minute video webinar with a Curtis Brown literary agent. They will discuss what literary agents do and answer your questions about YA and children's publishing.

End of Course Submission

Share your opening with the Curtis Brown and C&W agents

At the end of the course all students will be invited to submit the 3,000-word opening of their novel, plus a synopsis, to be shared with the YA and Children's agent teams at CB and C&W. This is not a formal submission to the agency but a chance to give the agents a taste of your work at this stage.


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 fourteen fellow students week by week, and provide constructive written comments on their work. We find this process helps students develop their own inner editor and has a hugely positive impact on their own writing. Each week three students will submit 3,000-word extracts from their novels-in-progress 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 two times across the course.

Exclusive alumni services

By popular request we have now launched a range of exclusive writing services, available only 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 (you get to choose your supervisor from the available tutors), a four-day annual alumni summer school at our London offices, editorial reports on your completed novel, submission reports on your ‘pitch package’ and coaching from experienced practitioners. If you’d like further details about these services, and current prices, before applying to this course, you can email us on cbccourses@curtisbrown.co.uk .

Additionally, any students from our selective course who want to formally submit their novels to agents from Curtis Brown or C&W will be given advice and support from the Curtis Brown Creative team with their submission. Full information about this free service is provided during the course.

Guest Speakers

Handwriting your novel


Our selective applications process means that you will be writing your novel in a peer group of 15 students working at a high level.

The course fee of £1,800 (inc VAT) per student is payable, in full, by bank transfer. Funds must reach our bank account before the course begins. If you are unable to pay the full fee upfront, let us know and we can arrange an instalment plan.

Please upload your application via the form below. 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



Monday 3 October

Videos and notes from Catherine

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Monday 10 October

Videos and notes from Catherine + Writing Workshop

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Monday 17 October

Videos and notes from Catherine + Writing Workshop

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Point of View

Monday 24 October

Videos and notes from Catherine + Writing Workshop

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Monday 31 October

Videos and notes from Catherine + Writing Workshop

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Everything Matters

Monday 7 November

Videos and notes from Catherine + Writing Workshop

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Monday 14 November

Videos and notes from Catherine  + Writing Workshop

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Dialogue and Description

Monday 21 November

Videos and notes from Catherine + Writing Workshop

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Planning, Plotting and Dreaming

Monday 28 November

Videos and notes from Catherine + Writing Workshop

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Children’s Writing Troubleshooting

Monday 5 December

Videos and notes from Catherine + Writing Workshop

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Endings and Resolutions

Monday 12 December

Videos and notes from Catherine + Writing Workshop

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Editing and Rewriting

Monday 9 Jan

Videos and notes from Catherine + Conclusions

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End of course submission

Monday 31 Jan

Students to submit their 3,000-word opening and one-page synopsis to be read by the Curtis Brown and C&W children’s and YA agents.

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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. The deadline for applications is midnight, end of day Sunday 11 September, and we will respond to applicants by Thursday 15 September.

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  • Contact Details

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  • eg. name@domain.com
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  • About You and Your Writing

    We'd like to learn a bit about you and your writing. Don’t worry if you haven’t done much writing before, please fill out in as much detail as possible. We won't share this data.
  • Date Format: DD slash MM slash YYYY
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  • We'd like to hear about any jobs or studies that you feel may be of interest and/or relevant to your application
  • Accepted file types: pdf, txt, doc, rtf, docx.
    Please upload your synopsis and opening 3,000 words in one document. Only PDF, TXT and DOC files accepted, file size must be less than 8mb