Six-Month Novel Writing Course with Christopher Wakling

The intensive course for 15 aspiring novelists, with input from our literary agent team, based in Curtis Brown's offices.

CBC photo


Feb 19 2018 - Jul 11 2018






Our Six-Month Novel-Writing Course is designed to give aspiring novelists everything they need to make their novels fly. Novelist Christopher Wakling will lead weekly evening writing workshops, teaching sessions and one-to-one tutorials. CBC's director Anna Davis will give individual tutorials. Students share their work at course end with the agents from Curtis Brown and C+W. Applications for this course close at midnight on Sunday 21 January.


Christopher Wakling, author

Christopher's six acclaimed novels include What I Did, The Devil's Mask, and On Cape Three Points. Born in 1970, he read English at Oxford, then worked as a farm hand, teacher and lawyer, before turning to writing full-time in 2001. As well as writing fiction, Christopher is a travel writer for The Independent. He has tutored numerous creative-writing courses for Curtis Brown Creative and The Arvon Foundation.

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.

Erin Kelly, author

Erin is the author of a number acclaimed psychological thrillers, including The Sick RoseThe Burning AirThe Ties That Bind and The Poison Tree (turned into a primetime ITV drama in 2013), all published by Hodder & Stoughton. She also wrote the official novel and short story series of the hit TV series Broadchurch published by Little, Brown. Her latest novel, He Said, She Said was published in April 2017. Photograph: Domenico Pugliese.

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.

Guest Speakers

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Jonny Geller

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Norah Perkins

lucy l

Lucy Luck


Sophie Lambert


Fiona Cummins

Sheila Crowley, Curtis Brown Agent

Sheila Crowley

Louise Candlish, Author

Louise Candlish



This six-month course features dedicated writing workshops, in-depth work feedback on students' novels-in-progress and a series of talks from the agents at Curtis Brown and C+W with leading publishers and major authors. The course concludes with the full literary-agent teams of Curtis Brown and C+W reading the synopses and openings of the students' novels, after which students will have the opportunity to meet the agents and discuss their works-in-progress at a relaxed drinks evening here in the Curtis Brown offices.

We're proud of having launched the careers of 38 published authors to date, including Jessie Burton, Jane Harper, Kate Hamer and Janet Ellis. While we can't guarantee publication or representation, we lavish our expertise on students who join our creative writing courses. The agents of Curtis Brown and C+W are hungry for new authors and actively looking for clients among our students.

Based in our London offices, classes are all scheduled in the evenings to accommodate participants with full-time jobs and other daytime commitments.

We welcome applications from anyone with talent, passion and a strong idea for a novel. Please submit the opening 3,000 words of the novel you want to work on during the course, plus a one-page synopsis giving us a sense of where your novel is heading.

What does this course give you?

With years of experience and demonstrable success, we've assembled a great package here, and we're confident that we're offering great value-for-money. This course is ideal for aspiring novelists who are serious about writing. To keep the standards as high as possible, we are selective about who we offer places to. The 15 selected students will receive:

• Weekly writing workshops led by Christopher, focusing on extracts from students’ work. Each student has 3 workshops centered on his/her own work during the course

• Weekly teaching sessions on key topics with Christopher

• Two 25-minute one-to-one tutorials with Christopher based on the novel-in-progress

• One 45-minute one-to-one tutorial with Anna Davis (or one of our agent team) close to the end of the course to enable the student to discuss the novel, review course progress and gain advice on next steps

• Five visiting speaker sessions from Curtis Brown and C+W agents, in each case paired with a leading author or publishing professional.

• A teaching session on how to present work to literary agents, with Anna Davis and an agent from Curtis Brown or C+W – including feedback on students' letters to agents

• A teaching session and feedback on how to write a synopsis, with Christopher

• Two 'mini courses' from special guest tutors - each guest tutor teaches 3 sessions with the students

• Drinks with the Curtis Brown and C+W agent teams at the end of the course. Students will submit 3,000 words of their novel, plus a synopsis for the agents to read


The workshops run from 7pm–9pm and will initially take place on Monday evenings, and then moving to Thursday evenings following the Easter break. Students will be asked to submit synopses and extracts (up to 3,000 words each time) from their novels-in-progress for discussion at the workshop and will receive written comments from the tutor and fellow students. 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 evening sessions will also include teaching on a range of issues crucial to the writing of novels, such as characterisation, point-of-view and the art of rewriting.

Five visiting speaker sessions will be run on Tuesday evenings from 7pm-9pm. These will be one-off talks from Curtis Brown and C+W book agents, partnering with leading writers and publishing professionals, with the opportunity for Q&As. The sessions will include industry advice from the agents and pitching practice for the students. Anna Davis will also partner with one of the agent team to lead a two-hour session on how to write pitch letters to agents.

We believe our students benefit from different teaching voices and perspectives. Our six-month course features two special ‘mini-courses’, each taught by a special guest tutor, who takes the students for three sessions.

Each student will be given two, 25-minute one-to-one tutorials with Christopher, scheduled for before the main teaching session on Thursdays. In these, students can discuss their novel-in-progress, and will be asked to consider, ahead of time, the questions and issues they wish to focus on. Christopher will read up to 3,000 words of material for each tutorial.

Each student will be given an individual, industry-focused tutorial with Anna Davis or a member of our agent team (duration 45 minutes). The feedback will focus on 6,000 words from the novel and its plotline/synopsis. On request, suggestions will be made as to potential agents to submit work to (inside and outside Curtis Brown and C+W).

Towards the end of the course, students will be asked to submit 3,000 words plus a one-page synopsis to be shared with the full agenting teams of 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. A drinks evening then provides the opportunity for students to meet the agents and their assistants, to talk about their books and get to know the agents in a relaxed and supportive environment, and to consider who at Curtis Brown and C+W they would like to send their novels to when they're ready to be submitted formally.

Student workload

At the start of the course, each student will be given three dates by which they must email extracts (up to 3,000 words for each session) from their novel-in-progress to Christopher and fellow students. In addition to receiving written feedback from Christopher and the other students, the extracts will be discussed in the following week's workshop. Each student will have their material workshopped three times during the course.

The students also submit a further 3,000 words to Christopher one week ahead of their tutorial date – to get the best value from this course, we advise students to choose a different section of material from those being reviewed in the workshops. The 6,000 words sent to Anna for the longer tutorial (towards the end of the course) should include their opening, and should be accompanied by their one-page synopsis.

Each week the students will be given ‘homework’ tasks related to the teaching topic for the next class. These will frequently be written exercises and may involve working with material from the novels-in-progress (for example, rewriting scenes from different perspectives, transforming sections of dialogue, etc). Students will also be asked to prepare and deliver elevator pitches, produce synopses for analysis in class and write sample approach letters to agents for discussion.

Each week the students will be asked to read the workshop submissions of three students and to contribute written feedback as well as to prepare their thoughts for discussion in the next workshop.


Dates and details

All sessions take place from 7pm–9pm at Curtis Brown's offices.

Mon 19 Feb Introduction with Christopher Wakling and Anna Davis

Mon 26 Feb  Visiting speaker session - Emma Finn & Katie Greenstreet (C+W) with Charlotte Cray (Borough Press), hosted by Jack Hadley

Tue 27 Feb Writing Workshop & Teaching session: Inspiration and Ideas, with Christopher

Mon 5 March  Visiting speaker session - Lucy Luck (C+W) with Zoe Gilbert (author)

Tue 6 March Writing Workshop & Teaching session: Openings, with Christopher

Mon 12 March Visiting speaker session - Jonny Geller with an author or publisher (TBC)

Tue 13 March Writing Workshop & Teaching session: Plotting and Story, with Christopher

Mon 19 March Writing Workshop & Teaching session: Developing Your Protagonist, with Christopher

Mon 26 March Guest tutor session with Erin Kelly

Tues 27 March Guest tutor session with Erin Kelly

Thurs 29 March Guest tutor session with Erin Kelly

Easter Break

Mon 9 April Writing Workshop & Teaching session: Narrative Point of View, with Christopher

Mon 16 April Writing Workshop & Teaching session: Voice and Tone, with Christopher

Tues 17 April Visiting speaker session - Fiona Cummins (author) with Sophie Lambert (C+W)

Mon 23 April Writing Workshop & Teaching session: Characterisation/ Developing the Supporting Cast, with Christopher

Mon 30 April Writing Workshop & Teaching session: Dialogue, with Christopher

Thurs 10 May Writing Workshop & Teaching session: Writing Scenes, with Christopher

Mon 14 May  Writing Workshop & Teaching session: Description and Setting, with Christopher

Tues 15 May Visiting speaker session - Sheila Crowley (CB) with Louise Candlish (author)

Mon 21 May Writing Workshop & Teaching session: Writing from Life, with Christopher

Thurs 31 May Writing Workshop & Teaching session: Editing and Rewriting, with Christopher

Mon 4 June Writing Workshop & Teaching session: The Synopsis, with Christopher

Mon 11 June Writing Workshop & Teaching session: The Synopsis II, with Christopher

Tue 19 June Letters to Agents sessions - with Norah Perkins & Niall Harman

Mon 25 June  Guest tutor session with Simon Wroe

Tues 26 June Guest tutor session with Simon Wroe

Thurs 28 June Guest tutor session with Simon Wroe

Mon 2 July Writing Workshop & Teaching session: Endings, with Christopher

Mon 9 July  Conclusions, with Christopher and Anna

Wed 11 July Drinks with the Curtis Brown and C+W agents

* 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. We regret that we are unable to refund fees, and would suggest that students make their own insurance arrangements if required.


Please apply with the first 3,000 words of your novel, and a synopsis of no more than a page. The deadline for applications is midnight, end of day Sunday 21 January, and we will respond to applicants by Wednesday 24 January. Make sure you include your synopsis and opening 3,000 in the same document, as you can only upload ONE file as part of the application below. Please apply with a 3,000 opening of the novel you would like to work on during the course. If you encounter any problems during the application process, or have any more questions about the course, please email for assistance.

Note: Our server has been experiencing some issues in recent weeks: if you are unsure that your applications has gone through, haven't received an automated confirmation email, or if you are unable to upload a file, please email us immediately at