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Six-Month Novel-Writing Course

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.


Sept 07 2020 - Mar 01 2020


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

Course Overview

This online novel-writing course is designed 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.

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 100 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, was published by Michael Joseph in 2020.

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


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 is currently based in Lancashire. His first novel, The Loney, was originally published by Tartarus Press as a 300-copy limited-edition, before being republished by John Murray. It went on to sell in twenty languages, win the Costa Best First Novel Award and Book of the Year at the British Book Industry Awards. Devil's Day, his second novel, was picked as a Book of the Year in five newspapers and won the Encore Award. Starve Acre is published by John Murray in 2019.


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 3,000 words, each time). These sessions offer in-depth written feedback and are also designed to help develop your self-editing skills.

Curtis Brown Creative learning platform forum

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/Zoom, 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 publisher

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.

Webinar with Tessa Hadley

Join a live video chat with renowned author Tessa Hadley

Students will take part in a special 60 minute video webinar with Tessa Hadley, hosted by CBC's Jennifer Kerslake. Tessa will talk about the writing process and answer questions about her journey to publication.

Webinar with a Literary Agent

Join a live video chat with top UK literary agent Karolina Sutton

Students will take part in a special 60 minute video webinar with leading Curtis Brown agent Karolina Sutton. Karolina will discuss what literary agents do and answer your questions about publishing.

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.


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 .

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

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:

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. 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 more questions about the course, please email for assistance.

Course Schedule


Inspiration and Reading as Writers

Monday 7 Sept – Sunday 13 Sept

With videos from Anna Davis and Chris Wakling

Workshops led by Lisa O’Donnell

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Mon 14 Sept – Sun 20 Sept

With videos from Nikita Lalwani

Workshops led by Lisa O’Donnell

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Writing from Life

Mon 21 Sept – Sun 4 Oct

With videos from Nikita Lalwani

Workshops led by Lisa O’Donnell

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Story, Plotting & Planning

Mon 5 Oct – Sun 18 Oct

With videos from Chris Wakling

Workshops led by Lisa O’Donnell

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Voice and Narrative Point of View

Mon 19 Oct – Sun 25 Oct

With videos from Nikita Lalwani

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


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Planning and Research

Mon 30 Oct – Sun 8 Nov

With videos from Jake Arnott

Workshops led by Andrew Michael Hurley


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Mon 9 Nov – Mon 22 Nov

With videos from Suzannah Dunn

Workshops led by Andrew Michael Hurley


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Description, Tone & Style

Monday 23 Nov – Sun 29 Nov

With videos from Erin Kelly

Workshops led by Andrew Michael Hurley



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Mon 30 Nov – Sun 6 Dec

With videos from Suzannah Dunn

Workshops led by Andrew Michael Hurley


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Building Suspense

Mon 7 Dec –  Sun 20 Dec

With videos from Erin Kelly

Workshops led by Andrew Michael Hurley


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Mon 4 Jan – Sunday 17 Jan

With videos from Lisa O’Donnell

Workshops led by Andrew Michael Hurley


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Editing and Rewriting

Monday 18 Jan – Sunday 24 Jan

With videos from Jake Arnott

Workshops led by Andrew Michael Hurley


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The Synopsis

Monday 25 Jan – Sunday 7 Feb

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

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Final Questions

Monday 8 Feb – Monday 15 Feb

A chance to ask final questions – and farewell from Andrew

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End of Course Submission

Monday 1 March

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

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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 2nd August, and we will respond to applicants by Thursday 6th August.

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