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Six-Month Novel-Writing Course

The hugely popular course, featuring intensive input from our literary agent team with publishers and authors, based in Curtis Brown's Central London offices.

COURSE DATES

Sep 10 2020 - Mar 04 2020

London

In-person course in central London

Selective Entry

We offer places to the most talented applicants

Course Fee £2,990

Work on your novel with the experts

Overview

This Six-Month Novel-Writing course is our ‘biggest’ London-based course for anyone with writing talent and a strong novel idea, who has decided they want to take their writing seriously.

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 guest 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.

A unique feature of this course is the two ‘mini courses’, each led by published authors (tbc).

The course takes place in our London offices, at the heart of our business, and is scheduled for evenings to suit participants with full-time jobs and other daytime commitments. All teaching sessions, workshops and visiting speaker sessions will take place in our boardroom.

In the eight years since we’ve started Curtis Brown Creative, over 90 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 London course students turned bestselling authors: Jessie Burton (The Miniaturist), Kate Hamer with (The Girl in the Red Coat) and Laura Marshall ( Friend Request). Read more about the published authors who’ve studied with us in London 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 actively looking for clients among our students.

Although the Curtis Brown Creative offices are currently closed due to COVID-19, we are planning to run our full programme of in-person London courses in the autumn provided that proves possible and sensible. In the event of disruption to these courses, we will offer students a range of options including full and partial refunds, postponing to a later date or moving to online alternatives on our bespoke learning platform. Find out more about our COVID-19 policy.

‘Laura really raised the bar for what I believe I can achieve
with my writing and I left feeling galvanised to finish up
my manuscript.’
Daniel Sommerford, CBC alumnus

Tutor

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.

Jennifer Kerslake, CBC Senior Manager

Jennifer is Senior Manager for Courses and Operations at Curtis Brown Creative. She was previously an editor at Weidenfeld & Nicolson, the literary imprint of the Orion Publishing Group. In her time there, she worked with authors including Costa-shortlisted Elisa Lodato, Stella Prize-winning Heather Rose, Leila Aboulela, Francesca Jakobi, Chloë Mayer, Shannon Leone Fowler and Haleh Agar. She is passionate about nurturing new voices and excited to be part of CBC’s creative and dynamic team.

WHAT DOES THIS COURSE GIVE YOU?

Weekly Teaching Topics

Lively teaching sessions take place on Thursday evenings

During the first hour of the Thursday class, Laura will teach on a variety of novel-writing topics, such as characterisation and narrative point of view, with discussion, reading materials and writing exercises. Laura will also set a weekly homework task.

Handwriting your novel

Weekly Writing Workshops

Led by Laura Barnett

The group meets weekly, and across the course you'll get three dedicated workshops centring on material from your novel-in-progress with your tutor and fellow students (extracts of 3000 words, each time). These sessions offer in-depth written feedback and are also designed to help develop your self-editing skills.

Two One-to-One Tutorials

Work closely with Laura on your novel in progress

You'll get two 25 minute, one-to-one tutorials with Laura, before the Thursday class starts, based on 3,000-word sections of your novel-in-progress. Use these tutorials to address your specific concerns about your writing.

A 45-minute Agent one-to-one

Get a literary agent's perspective on your novel-in-progress

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

Five Visiting Speaker Evenings

Insights and inspiration from published authors, agents and editors

In five visiting speaker sessions, literary agents from Curtis Brown and C&W partner with major authors and top publishing to talk to the student group. These special sessions allow time for Q&As and some visitors like to hear the students' elevator pitches ...

'Mini Courses' from two Guest Authors

Get different teaching perspectives from our two guest tutors

We like to give our students the chance to hear from different author-tutors across the course: Two guest authors will each lead three evening teaching sessions (as listed). Authors tbc.

Agent letter workshop

Expert feedback on the all-important pitch letter

We'll give you the vital do's and don'ts of agent pitch letters - you'll then write your own and CB agent Norah Perkins, plus another CB or C&W literary agent will give you verbal feedback in a group workshop .

Editing on a computer

Synopsis Advice

We'll show you how to nail that tricky synopsis

We'll give you the ingredients of a great synopsis - then you'll write one to share with the group and receive individual feedback from Laura.

Share Your Work with Literary Agents

A chance to informally show your work to our team

Ahead of the end of the course drinks session, all students will be invited to submit the 3,000-word opening of their novel, plus a synopsis, to be shared with the 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.

Drinks and networking with the agents

Attend an end of course drinks evening with Curtis Brown and C&W Literary Agents

At the end of the course you will be invited to a celebratory drinks reception with the literary agents. You'll get the chance to talk about your novel, to practice pitching, and to chat about books and publishing in an informal setting.

WORKING WITH OTHER WRITERS

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 week by week, and provide constructive written comments (both in writing and at the group workshop sessions). 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 three 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.

Novel-writing student

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 tribe with us – and continue to meet up with former class-mates who have become trusted readers long after the course is over.

The course fee of £2,990 (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 at the end of this page. If you encounter any problems during the application process, or have any questions about the course, please email cbccourses@curtisbrown.co.uk for assistance.

Visiting Speakers

Read about the guests who’ll be visiting this course in five special sessions, along with a literary agent host (visiting speakers tbc)

Course Schedule

All sessions take place at Curtis Brown’s offices in London. The Thursday teaching and workshop sessions run from 7pm-9pm (with tutorials immediately prior to class – 6pm-7pm)

The visiting speaker sessions are on Tuesdays – 7pm-8.30pm (dates subject to change)

WEEK 1

Introduction

Thursday 10 September

Teaching Session with Anna Davis and Laura Barnett. Anna and Laura will welcome the group to the course, explain how the course works and share what students should do to get the most out of the three-months.

see more

WEEK 2

Inspiration and Ideas

Tuesday 15 September

Visiting speaker session with a CB/C&W agent and author/publisher tbc.

Thursday 17 September

Teaching Session and Workshop with Laura Barnett. This week Laura will discuss where writers get their inspiration.

see more

WEEK 3

Plotting and Story

Tuesday 22 September

Visiting speaker session with a CB/C&W agent and author/publisher tbc.

Thursday 24 September

Teaching Session and Workshop with Laura Barnett. Laura will give tips on how to plot and plan your story arc.

see more

WEEK 4

Openings

Thursday 1  October

Teaching Session and Workshop with Laura Barnett. Laura will talk about what makes a good novel opening.

see more

WEEK 5

Developing Your Protagonist

Thursday 8 October

Teaching Session and Workshop with Laura Barnett. This week is all about getting inside the head of your main character: what drives them, how do you make them convincing, etc.

see more

WEEK 6

Narrative Point of View

Thursday 15 October

Teaching Session and Workshop with Laura Barnett. This week Laura will give guidance on narrative point of view.

see more

WEEK 7

Voice and Tone

Thursday 22 October

Teaching Session and Workshop with Laura Barnett. Laura will discuss the different stylistic approaches to novel-writing that an author can take.

see more

WEEK 8

First Guest Tutor ‘Mini Course’

Tuesday 27 October

Visiting speaker session with a CB/C&W agent and author/publisher tbc.

Tuesday 3 November

Guest Tutor Session with author tbc.

Wednesday 4 November

Guest Tutor Session with author tbc.

Thursday 5 November

Final night of the first ‘mini course’ with author tbc.

see more

WEEK 9

Developing Your Supporting Cast

Tuesday 10 November

Visiting speaker session with a CB/C&W agent and author/publisher tbc.

Thursday 12 November
Teaching Session and Workshop with Laura Barnett. It is important not to forget about the minor characters which help flesh out the reality of your story.

see more

WEEK 10

Dialogue

Thursday 19 November
Teaching Session and Workshop with Laura Barnett. Dialogue can make or break a novel and good dialogue is all about authenticity.

see more

WEEK 11

Writing Scenes

Thursday 26 November

Teaching Session and Workshop with Laura Barnett. Laura will talk you through what makes a compelling and convincing scene.

see more

WEEK 12

Description and Setting

Thursday 3 December
Teaching Session and Workshop with Laura Barnett. Laura will share examples of descriptions which really work.

see more

WEEK 13

Writing from Life

Thursday 10 December
Teaching Session and Workshop with Laura Barnett. This week Laura will discuss how best to draw inspiration from real life experiences and knowledge.

WINTER BREAK

see more

WEEK 14

The Synopsis I

Thursday 7 January
Teaching Session and Workshop with Laura Barnett. During week one of the synopsis workshops Laura will explain why the synopsis is so important to get right and give tips on how to do this.

see more

WEEK 15

The Synopsis II

Thursday 14 January

Teaching Session and Workshop with Laura Barnett. Week two of the synopsis workshops.

see more

WEEK 16

Second Guest Tutor ‘Mini Course’

Wednesday 20 January

Guest Tutor Session with author tbc

Thursday 21 January

Guest Tutor Session with author tbc

Tuesday 26 January

Visiting speaker session with a CB/C&W agent and author/publisher tbc.

Thursday 28 January

Guest Tutor Session with author tbc

see more

WEEK 17

Editing and Rewriting

Tuesday 2 February

Letters to Agents session – get feedback on your agent letter from two agents from C&W or CB.

Thursday 4 February
Teaching Session and Workshop with Laura Barnett. Laura will talk you through techniques and tips for redrafting and editing your manuscript.

see more

WEEK 18

Endings

Thursday 11 February

Teaching Session and Workshop with Laura Barnett. Your novel needs an ending and finding the right one to do the story justice can be tricky, Laura will help lead the way.

see more

WEEK 19

Drinks Reception with Literary Agents

Wednesday 24 February

Celebratory evening with a chance to meet the agents from Curtis Brown and C&W.

see more

WEEK 20

Conclusions

Thursday 4 March

Teaching Session and Goodbyes with Laura Barnett and Anna Davis.

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. The deadline for applications is midnight, end of day Sunday 2nd August. and we will respond to applicants by Thursday 6th August.

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  • Contact Details

    Please provide some essential details so we can get in touch with you about your application. We won't share this data.
  • eg. name@domain.com
  • Please include country code if applicable
  • 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
  • No more than 150 words please.
  • 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