Six-Month Novel-Writing Course with Lisa O’Donnell & Andrew Michael Hurley

Our biggest online course gives you an intense learning experience as a writer with direct engagement with authors and a publisher, as well as literary agents.

COURSE DATES

Feb 17 2020 - 27 Jul 2020

Online

Take this course from anywhere in the world

Selective Entry

We offer places to the most talented applicants

Course Fee £2,600

Work on your novel with the experts

Overview

We’ve designed this online novel-writing course to be as useful and fulfilling as the courses we run in our offices, with contributions from agents here at Curtis Brown and C&W. This is a course for people who are serious about writing a novel. As well as being packed with useful content, it’s flexible so you can write and study at times to suit you.

We’re excited to be offering two brilliant, award-winning tutors for this course – meaning you’ll get two experienced teaching perspectives and two distinct teaching voices focused on your work across the six months. Commonwealth Book Prize-winning author Lisa O’Donnell will teach the first half of the course – after which, Costa-winning writer Andrew Michael Hurley will take the reins. When Curtis Brown Creative began running courses back in 2011, our very first creative writing courses featured two expert tutors – but we’ve only rarely offered this since then, and never before for an online course.

Lisa and Andrew will each lead weekly online writing workshops, set weekly writing exercises and provide one-to-one tutorials where they will give direct feedback to all students on their novels-in-progress. Via our online learning platform, you’ll also get access to teaching videos, notes and resources from our CBC tutor team (listed below).

The Curtis Brown and C&W literary agents, a guest author and guest publisher, will offer writing and pitching advice in special events across the course. At the end of the course, students get to share the opening of their novels informally with the agent team.

In the eight years since we’ve started Curtis Brown Creative, over 75 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 online course students  Jane Harper (The Dry) and Nicholas Searle (The Good Liar), both now international bestsellers whose novels are being adapted for the big screen. You can read more about our online 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 will be actively looking for clients among our writers.

‘Having some really positive feedback and stirring up quite a lot of debate made me feel more confident that my characters were leaving the page and having an effect on people. It also took a while to find my protagonist’s voice – but with Lisa’s fabulous tutorials, we got there in the end!’
Rachel Marks, whose debut novel, Saturdays at Noon, will be published by Michael Joseph in February 2020.

‘[Andrew Michael Hurley’s] The Loney is not just good, it’s great. It’s an amazing piece of fiction’
Stephen King

Tutors

Lisa O'Donnell, author

Lisa O'Donnell is the author of the Commonwealth Book Prize-winning novel The Death of Bees, published by Windmill. Her second novel, Closed Doors is published by William Heinemann. Lisa won the Orange Screenwriting Prize for her screenplay The Wedding Gift and was nominated for the Dennis Potter New Screenwriters’ Award. She is currently working on her third novel.

Andrew Michael Hurley, Author

Andrew Michael Hurley has lived in Manchester and London, and is now based in Lancashire. His first novel, The Loney, was originally published by Tartarus Press, a tiny independent publisher based in Yorkshire, as a 300-copy limited-edition, before being republished by John Murray and going on to win the Costa Best First Novel Award and Book of the Year at the British Book Industry Awards in 2016. His second novel, Devil’s Day, was published in 2017.

WHAT DOES THIS COURSE GIVE YOU?

Teaching Videos & Tasks

Tips on a range of topics from our tutor team

Lisa and Andrew will set weekly tasks for the group - writing exercises or topics to prepare for discussion. Across 14 teaching modules, videos and notes will be made available on our platform, covering a range of topics such as plotting, characterisation, point-of-view and rewriting. 

Writing Workshops

Led by Lisa O'Donnell and Andrew Michael Hurley

You'll get three dedicated workshops centring on material from your novel-in-progress with your tutor and the group (Extracts of 3000 words, each time). These sessions offer in-depth written feedback and are also designed to help develop your self-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 closely reviewed by your tutor

You'll get one 45 minute, one-to-one tutorial with Lisa - and one with Andrew - over the phone or via Skype, based on 3,000 word sections of your novel-in-progress. Use these tutorials to address your specific concerns about your writing.

Pitch Workshop

Practise your elevator pitch with a publishing editor

We'll give you advice on how to pitch your novel effectively, and then bring a commissioning editor from a major publishing house to give individual written feedback to all students.

First Page Workshop

Get feedback from a guest author

The opening of your novel is crucial to its success. We'll ask you to share your first page and get individual written feedback from a special guest tutor.

Synopsis Advice

Our tips on how to conquer 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 Andrew will give you individual written feedback.

Literary Agent Q&A

Get answers from our team of literary agents

In a special session, you'll put questions to members of the Curtis Brown, and C&W agent teams in the discussion space, and gain their answers on how to navigate the choppy waters of the publishing industry.

Agent Letter Session

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 the agents from Curtis Brown and C&W will give you written feedback, plus their tips on how to bypass the slush pile.

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 agent teams at CB and C&W teams. This is not a formal submission to the agency but a chance to give the agents a taste of your work at this stage.

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 privately and in our online discussion space). 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. 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.

 

Guest Sessions

This course offers direct interaction with literary agents at Curtis Brown and C&W, published authors and a commissioning editor from a major publishing house. You’ll also get teaching videos from your tutors Lisa O’Donnell, Andrew Michael Hurley and from the author-tutors on our team:

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Anna Davis


Author and CBC Managing Director
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Christopher Wakling


Author
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Nikita Lalwani


Author
Jake Arnott, Author

Jake Arnott


Author
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Erin Kelly


Author
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Suzannah Dunn


Author

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 class-mates which go on long after the course is over.

The course fee of £2,600 (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, let us know and we can discuss a payment plan. We regret that we are unable to refund fees, and would suggest students make their own insurance arrangements if required. Students opting to join the mentoring scheme will be asked to pay a further £1,500 (inc VAT) before their mentoring begins (you don’t need to make a decision about that at this stage).

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

WEEK 1

Inspiration and Reading as Writers

Monday 17 Feb – Sunday 23 Feb

With videos from Anna Davis and Chris Wakling

Workshops led by Lisa O’Donnell

see more

WEEK 2

Openings

Mon 24 Feb – Sun 8 March

With videos from Nikita Lalwani

Workshops led by Lisa O’Donnell

see more

WEEK 3

Writing from Life

Mon 9 March – Sun 22 March

With videos from Nikita Lalwani

Workshops led by Lisa O’Donnell

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WEEK 4

Story, Plotting & Planning

Mon 23 March – Sun 5 April

With videos from Chris Wakling

Workshops led by Lisa O’Donnell

see more

WEEK 5

Voice and Narrative Point of View

Mon 6 April – Thurs 9 April

With videos from Nikita Lalwani

Workshops led by Lisa O’Donnell – and farewell from Lisa

EASTER BREAK

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WEEK 6

Planning and Research

Mon 20 April – Sun 26 April

With videos from Jake Arnott

Workshops led by Andrew Michael Hurley

 

see more

WEEK 7

Characterisation

Mon 27 April– Mon 10 May

With videos from Suzannah Dunn

Workshops led by Andrew Michael Hurley

 

see more

WEEK 8

Description, Tone & Style

Monday 11 May– Sun 17 May

With videos from Erin Kelly

Workshops led by Andrew Michael Hurley

 

 

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WEEK 9

Dialogue

Mon 18 May– Sun 24 May

With videos from Suzannah Dunn

Workshops led by Andrew Michael Hurley

UK SPRING BANK HOLIDAY break

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WEEK 10

Building Suspense

Mon 1 June –  Sun 14 June

With videos from Erin Kelly

Workshops led by Andrew Michael Hurley

 

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WEEK 11

Endings

Mon 15 June – Sunday 28 June

With videos from Lisa O’Donnell

Workshops led by Andrew Michael Hurley

 

see more

WEEK 12

Editing and Rewriting

Monday 29 June – Sunday 5 July

With videos from Jake Arnott

Workshops led by Andrew Michael Hurley

 

see more

WEEK 13

The Synopsis

Monday 6 July – Sunday 19 July

With videos from Anna Davis and a synopsis workshop with Andrew Michael Hurley

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WEEK 14

Final Questions

Monday 20 July – Monday 26 July

A chance to ask final questions – and farewell from Andrew

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WEEK 15

End of Course Submission

Monday 10 August

Students to submit 3,000 word opening and one-page synopsis to be read by the Curtis Brown and C&W literary agents

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 form). The application deadline is midnight, end of day Sunday 26th January, and we will respond to applicants by Thursday 30th January.

Not quite ready?

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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
  • 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
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