Six-Month Novel-Writing Course with Jake Arnott

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

Feb 17 2020 - Jul 09 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

Our 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.

We’re excited to welcome back bestselling author Jake Arnott, who was the tutor of our first ever creative writing course back in 2011 – the course on which Jessie Burton began writing her global bestseller, The Miniaturist. As tutor of this six-month course, Jake 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.

And a further unique feature is the two ‘mini courses’: Authors Claire Fuller and Rebecca Wait each visit the student group to teach three classes, offering their own different and distinct perspectives on the art of novel-writing.

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 are run in our boardroom.

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 London course students Kate Hamer with (The Girl in the Red Coat) and Laura MarshallFriend Request) – as well as Jessie Burton, whose debut sold more than a million copies. 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.

 ‘In Jake Arnott’s fiction, much of the pleasure comes from the way he recasts the real and the recognisable for his own purpose.’
Peter Guttridge, the Observer

Tutor

Jake Arnott, author

Jake is the author of seven highly acclaimed novels. The Long Firm was the bestselling debut novel of 1999, and was followed by He Kills Coppers, Truecrime, Johnny Come Home, The Devil's Paintbrush and, in 2013, The House of Rumour. In 2006, The Long Firm was made into a four-part, BAFTA-nominated series for BBC 2 starring Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Strong. In 2008, He Kills Coppers was made into a three-part series for ITV1, starring Rafe Spall and Kelly Reilly. His latest novel The Fatal Tree was published in February 2017.

Claire Fuller, Author

Claire Fuller didn’t start writing until she was 40. She’s the author of three novels: Our Endless Numbered Days (winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize), Swimming Lessons (shortlisted for the Encore Award), and most recently, the critically acclaimed, Bitter Orange. She also writes short stories and flash fiction, and has won the Royal Academy / Pin Drop short story prize amongst others.

Rebecca Wait, Author

Rebecca Wait is the author of two critically acclaimed novels, The View on the Way Down and The Followers, and a third, Our Fathers, which will be published in January. She has written for the Independent, the New Statesman and the Pool on subjects as diverse as cults, suicide and autism, and has appeared on Woman’s Hour. Alongside writing, she teaches in a London secondary school.

Anna Davis, Director

Anna is the founder and Director of the Curtis Brown Creative writing school. She is the author of five acclaimed novels which have been published in twenty languages. She has been a journalist and Guardian columnist, as well as a Curtis Brown literary agent. She taught creative writing at the University of Manchester and in many other settings before founding Curtis Brown Creative in 2011.

WHAT DOES THIS COURSE GIVE YOU?

Weekly Teaching Topics

Lively teaching sessions take place on Thursday evenings

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

Weekly Writing Workshops

Led by Jake Arnott

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 Jake on your novel in progress

You'll get two 25 minute, one-to-one tutorials with Jake, 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 an industry perspective on your novel-in-progress

Near the end of the course all students will get a 45-minute one-to-one tutorial with an experienced CBC team member 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.

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 3 evening teaching sessions (as listed). The first is acclaimed author Claire Fuller; the second will be with prize winning author Rebecca Wait.

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

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 Jake.

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.

Jonny Geller, agent

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 courses 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.

 

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 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, we’re happy to discuss payment in instalments. 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 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 (further visiting speakers tbc)

Jennifer Kerslake


CBC Senior Manager
Lisa Babalis

Lisa Babalis


Agent

Katie Greenstreet


Agent

Sophie Lambert


Agent

Course Schedule

All sessions take place at Curtis Brown’s offices in London. The weekly 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

WEEK 1

Introduction

Monday 17 February

Teaching Session with Anna Davis and Jake Arnott. Anna and Jake 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

Monday 24 February

Teaching Session and Workshop with Jake Arnott. This week Jake will discuss where writers get their inspiration.

Tuesday 25 February

Visiting Speaker Session with a literary agent and an author/ publisher (tbc)

see more

WEEK 3

Plotting and Story

Monday 2 March

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

Tuesday 3 March

Visiting Speaker Session with a literary agent and an author/ publisher (tbc)

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WEEK 4

Openings

Thursday 12 March

Teaching Session and Workshop with Jake Arnott. Jake will talk about what makes a good novel opening.

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WEEK 5

Developing Your Protagonist

Tuesday 17 March

Visiting Speaker Session with a literary agent and an author/ publisher (tbc)

Thursday 19 March

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

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WEEK 6

Narrative Point of View

Tuesday 24 March

Visiting Speaker Session with a literary agent and an author/ publisher (tbc)

Thursday 26 March

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

see more

WEEK 7

Voice and Tone

Thursday 2 April

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

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WEEK 8

Developing Your Supporting Cast

Tuesday 7 April

Teaching Session and Workshop with Jake Arnott. It is important not to forget about the minor characters which help flesh out the reality of your story.

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WEEK 9

Guest Tutor ‘Mini Course’

Thursday 16 April

Guest Tutor Session with Claire Fuller

Tuesday 21 April

Guest Tutor Session with Claire Fuller

Thursday 23 April

Guest Tutor Session with Claire Fuller

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WEEK 10

Dialogue

Thursday 30 April
Teaching Session and Workshop with Jake Arnott. Dialogue can make or break a novel and good dialogue is all about authenticity.

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WEEK 11

Writing Scenes

Thursday 7 May

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

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WEEK 12

Description and Setting

Thursday 14 May
Teaching Session and Workshop with Jake Arnott. Jake will share examples of descriptions which really work.

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WEEK 13

Writing from Life

Thursday 21 May
Teaching Session and Workshop with Jake Arnott. This week Jake will discuss how best to draw inspiration from real life experiences and knowledge.

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WEEK 14

The Synopsis I

Thursday 4 June
Teaching Session and Workshop with Jake Arnott. During week one of the synopsis workshops Jake will explain why the synopsis is so important to get right and give tips on how to do this.

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WEEK 15

The Synopsis II

Tuesday 9 June

Letters to agents session with two agents from Curtis Brown or C&W

Thursday 11 June

Teaching Session and Workshop with Jake Arnott. Week two of the synopsis workshops.

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WEEK 16

Guest Tutor ‘Mini Course’

Monday 15 Jun

Guest Tutor Session with Rebecca Wait

Tuesday 18 June

Guest Tutor Session with Rebecca Wait

Tuesday 23 July

Guest Tutor Session with Rebecca Wait

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WEEK 17

Endings

Thursday 25 June

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

 

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WEEK 18

Editing and Rewriting

Thursday 2 July
Teaching Session and Workshop with Jake Arnott. Jake will talk you through techniques and tips for redrafting and editing your manuscript.

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WEEK 19

Drinks Reception with Literary Agents

Tuesday 7 July

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

see more

WEEK 20

Conclusions

Thursday 9 July

Teaching Session and Goodbyes with Jake Arnott and Anna Davis.

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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 19th January, and we will respond to applicants by Thursday 23rd January.

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  • Contact Details

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

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