Six-month London Course With Laura Barnett

Our six-month novel-writing course will help you get the best out of your novel, with intensive teaching and lively input from our agent team in a dynamic environment.

CBC photo


Feb 18 2019 - Jul 11 2019






Find your writing voice in our highly selective novel-writing course, taking place at the heart of one of the UK's biggest literary agencies. Our expert tutor will help you develop your story and hone your prose, while sessions with literary agents, editors and leading authors will teach you how to pitch to the publishing industry. This is our 'big' London-based course for people who have decided they want to take their writing seriously.


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. She has taught creative writing for Guardian Masterclasses, delivered a TedX talk on originality in fiction, and worked as a writing mentor for the charity Arts Emergency. She is also a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University's Writing School.

Anna Davis, Director

Anna is the founder and Director of the Curtis Brown Creative writing school. She is the author of five novels, published around the world in 20 languages: MeltingThe Dinner, CheetThe Shoe Queen and The Jewel Box.  She has worked for Curtis Brown for more than a decade as a book agent and has served on the management committee of the Association of Authors' Agents.

Simon Wroe, author

Simon Wroe's first novel Chop Chop was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award, longlisted for Desmond Elliott Prize and the winner of a Betty Trask Award. His second novel, Here Comes Trouble, was published in April 2017 and was shortlisted for the Everyman Bollinger Wodehouse prize. He writes books and arts reviews for The Economist and features for The Guardian.

Nikita Lalwani, author

Nikita Lalwani's first novel Gifted was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2007, shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year, and was the winner of the Desmond Elliot Prize for New Fiction. Her second novel The Village was published in June 2012. Nikita was a judge for the Orwell Prize in 2013. Photograph: Bucy Neech.

Guest Speakers


Sophie Lambert


Jenny Quintana

Norah Perkins, agent

Norah Perkins


Lucy Morris

Lisa Babalis

Lisa Babalis

Catherine Cho, associate agent

Catherine Cho

Carla Josephson, Commissioning Editor at Borough Press

Carla Josephson

Lucy Luck, agent

Lucy Luck

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Mark Richards



The Six-Month Novel-Writing Course takes place at our London offices. Sunday Times bestselling author and tutor Laura Barnett will lead weekly writing workshops; provide one-to-one tutorials on how to write a novel, and give teaching sessions on key topics such as how to create memorable characters and how to develop your story. This creative writing course also features five special visiting speaker sessions in which literary agents from Curtis Brown and C+W, paired with leading writers and fiction editors, will share their experience and insights with students and answer their questions. At the end of the course, the Curtis Brown and C+W literary-agent teams will read the openings and synopses of the students' novels, and students get to meet the agents at a drinks evening.

Our selective applications process means that you will be writing a novel in a peer group of 15 students working at a high level. A great many of our former students have found their tribe with us - and continue to meet up with former class-mates who have become trusted readers long after the course is over. 

Over fifty of our former students have now gained book deals with commercial publishers, and a number of our former students have had Sunday Times Top 10 bestsellers, including Jessie Burton - The MiniaturistNicholas Searle - The Good Liar, Kate Hamer - The Girl in the Red Coat, Lisa Williamson - The Art of Being Normal, Laura Marshall - Friend Requestand Jane Harper - The Dry. 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 actively looking for clients among our students. 

The course is scheduled for evenings to suit participants with full-time jobs and other daytime commitments.

We welcome applications from anyone with writing talent and a strong novel idea, who wants to write a book.

What does this course give you?

This course is ideal for aspiring novelists who are serious about writing. Our selective application process means that you will be a part of a valuable peer group operating at a high-level. All students will get:

  • Weekly writing workshops led by tutor Laura Barnett, focusing on 3,000-word extracts from students' work. Three of these workshops, across the duration of the course, will be focussed on your novel-in-progress (but you attend all workshops). 
  • Two 25-minute, one-to-one tutorials with Laura Barnett, who will read and comment on two further 3,000-word extracts from your novel, and discuss your key concerns, such as how to develop your storyline, how to write good dialogue, etc.
  • One 45-minute, one-to-one tutorial with Anna Davis or one of the Curtis Brown literary agent team: Norah Perkins, Lucy Morris, Catherine Cho or Lisa Babalis. This will be based around a 6,000-word extract of your novel-in-progress, plus your synopsis, and will include both detailed feedback and an industry perspective - this takes place in the later stages of the course.
  • Weekly teaching sessions on key topics with Laura Barnett, to include discussion and writing exercises (some of which may be set for homework).
  • Five visiting speaker sessions (90 minutes each) - evening talks from Curtis Brown and C+W literary agents partnered with major authors and top publishing professionals. The sessions will be hosted by Curtis Brown literary agent Norah Perkins or other members of our literary agent team.
  • Two 'mini courses' from special guest tutors Nikita Lalwani and Simon Wroe - each guest tutor teaches 3 sessions with the students
  • A two-hour workshop on how to write pitch letters to agents with two members of the Curtis Brown or C+W literary agent team. 
  • Advice on how to write your novel synopsis with individual feedback from Laura Barnett.
  • Drinks with the Curtis Brown and  C+W agent teams at the end of the course. You submit 3,000 words of your novel, plus a synopsis, which will be shared with the agents prior to this meet-up.


The weekly teaching sessions will take place on Thursday evenings (and some Mondays - see below), from 7pm–9pm. In the first hour, Laura Barnett will cover a range of novel-writing topics, such as characterisation and narrative point of view. The second hour is the creative writing workshop, with the discussion focusing on 3 students' work  per week. Students will be asked to send in their material one week ahead of their workshop, and will also receive written comments from the tutor and fellow students (so, students will each week be reading and giving feedback on 3 students' work). This provides focused feedback and encourages students to develop their capacity to self-edit, to read as writers, and to receive and provide constructive criticism.

The five visiting speaker sessions and the pitch-letter workshop will take place on Tuesday evenings from 7pm-8.30pm, to include time for Q&As. At some of these visiting speaker sessions students will be given the opportunity to practise pitching their novels to industry professionals.

The two 25-minute one-to-one novel writing tutorials with Laura Barnett will take place on Thursday evenings between 6pm and 7pm.

The one-to-one 45-minute tutorial with Anna Davis or a literary agent will take place towards the end of the course - appointment times will be agreed with the students.

Towards the end of the course, students will be given a date by which to submit their 3,000 words plus a one-page synopsis to be shared with the full agenting teams at Curtis Brown and C+W. This is not a formal submission to the agency but a chance for students to share work-in-progress with our literary agents ahead of the drinks evening.


Dates and details

Mon 18 Feb
Introductions, with Laura and Anna

Tue 19 Feb
Guest speaker session with Catherine Cho and Lucy Morris (CB), alongside Carla Josephson (Editor with Borough Press)

Mon 25 Feb
Teaching session: Inspiration, Ideas and Research, with Laura
Writing Workshop

Mon 4 March

Teaching session: Plotting and Story, with Laura
Writing Workshop

Thurs 14 March
Teaching session: Openings, with Laura
Writing Workshop

Thurs 21 March
Teaching session: Characterisation: Developing Your Protagonists and Supporting Cast, with Laura
Writing Workshop

Tue 26 March
Guest speaker session with an agent from CB or C+W alongside an editor or author (TBC)

Thurs 28 March
Teaching session: Narrative Point of View, with Laura
Writing Workshop

Tue 2 April
Guest speaker session with Lucy Luck (C+W) alongside Mark Richards (John Murray)

Thurs 4 April
Teaching session: Voice and Tone, with Laura
Writing Workshop

Tue 9 April
Guest speaker session with Sophie Lambert (C+W) alongside Jenny Quintana

Thursday 11 April
Teaching session: Dialogue, with Laura
Writing Workshop

Tue 16 April
Guest speaker session with an agent from CB or C+W alongside an editor or author (TBC)

Thursday 18 April
Teaching session: Detail: drawing the general from the particular, with Laura
Writing Workshop

Easter Break

Mon 29 April
Special guest tutor session with Nikita Lalwani

Tues 30 April
Special guest tutor session with Nikita Lalwani

Thurs 2 May
Special guest tutor session with Nikita Lalwani

Thurs 9 May
Teaching session: Place-writing, with Laura
Writing Workshop

Thurs 16 May
Teaching session: Writing from Life, with Laura
Writing Workshop

Break week

Thurs 30 May
Teaching session: Troubleshooting: Blocks, Confidence, Motivation, with Laura,
Writing Workshop

Thurs 6 June
Teaching session: Endings, with Laura
Writing Workshop

Tue 11 June
Letters to Agents session

Thurs 13 June
Synopsis I, with Laura
Writing Workshop

Thursday 20 June
Synopsis II, with Laura
Writing Workshop

Monday 24 June
Special guest tutor session with Simon Wroe

Tues 25 June
Special guest tutor session with Simon Wroe

Thurs 27 June
Special guest tutor session with Simon Wroe

Thurs 4 July
Teaching session: Editing and Rewriting, with Laura
Writing Workshop

Tues 9 July
Drinks evening with agents at CB and C+W

Thurs 11 July
Conclusions, With Laura and Anna

* Please note, teaching topics, speakers and dates are subject to change.


The course fee of £2,990 (inc VAT) per student is payable, in full, by bank transfer or cheque. Funds must reach our bank account before the course begins. If you are unable to pay the full fee upfront don’t be deterred from applying, in the event that you are offered a course place we can discuss a payment plan if circumstances require. We regret that we are unable to refund fees, and would suggest that students make their own insurance arrangements if required.

Applications now closed