Starting to Write Your Novel

The online writing course that helps you get your novel off the ground. With our support, you'll develop your idea, plot and plan your story, and write a confident opening.


Sept 22 2022 - Nov 03 2022


Plot your story and get writing


Hosted on our bespoke learning platform

Course Fee £210

+ £145 for a 500-word report


Have you decided it’s time to write that novel? Perhaps you’re bursting to get your story down on paper but unsure of how to structure it and write it well – or maybe you’re keen to tackle a novel but finding it hard to come up with a strong enough idea? If you want to start writing a novel and need some practical support with the basics, this online creative writing course will help you develop your idea, plan out your story, and get writing.

Across six weeks, Curtis Brown Creative’s Managing Director Anna Davis will take you on a journey into your own story. Whether you’re writing fiction for fun or taking the first steps in a more serious endeavour, this course will lead you through the essentials and equip you with the tools  you need to start writing your novel with confidence. It also offers a taste of what we do at Curtis Brown Creative for those who are considering the bigger financial and time commitment needed for our longer creative writing courses. By the end of the six weeks, you’ll have built up sufficient material to use in your application if you decide to go ahead.

This course is the first in our novel-writing series – along with Write to the End of Your Novel  and Edit & Pitch Your Novel – designed to take you all the way from the germ of an idea to a polished draft and pitch. All of our online courses are designed for flexible study – you can take part at times to suit you and from wherever in the world you are.

‘I’d been toying with the idea of writing a novel for years, and tried a couple of times, but I knew I needed some guidance. The course provided the perfect ‘ground rules’ for writing a book, and in the process I also met lots of like-minded people who were in the same position as me.’
Mark D, Former Starting to Write Your Novel student


Anna Davis, CBC Founder & 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.


Weekly Teaching Modules

A clear path from blank page to a plot + 3000 words

Work through six weekly modules comprising teaching videos and substantial notes by Anna Davis. Topics range from finding inspiration & developing a plot to characterisation, point of view and how to write a good first chapter.

Dedicated Teaching Videos

CBC's Founder Anna Davis guides you through the course

Watch specially filmed, informative teaching videos, presented by Anna Davis, offering a practical and friendly approach to help you flesh our your ideas and conquer your fear of the blank page. Each weekly module includes at least two videos.

Resources & Notes

Comprehensive teaching notes and reference materials which are yours to keep

You’ll get access to multiple case studies, additional resources and teaching notes, including good ‘writing ground rules’ and lists of recommended reading.

Curtis Brown Creative learning platform forum

Student Forum

The hub of our online courses, find your writing community

Upload your completed writing tasks, give and receive feedback, and discuss the week’s topics with your fellow students and the CBC team.

Writing Tasks

Tailor-made tasks help you put the lessons into practice

Weekly writing and thinking tasks will help you explore and understand the teaching topics and progress your novel. Forum posts to the group from Anna Davis will reinforce these lessons.


Get feedback from your peers and an expert CBC editor

Sharpen your editorial eye through offering comment on other students' work and get their feedback on yours. An expert CBC editor will give brief written comments on several of the students' practical assignments each week, with all students receiving feedback on a task at some stage of the course.


You can follow the course at your own pace, but to get the best out of it, allow plenty of time to watch the videos, read and reflect on the notes and resources, complete the writing tasks, and take part in discussions in the forum. We encourage all students to offer positive, constructive feedback to each other in the forum as the course progresses.

It’s also important to be planning and working on your novel throughout the six weeks. At the end of the six weeks, we will ask you to post up the opening of your novel (up to 3,000 words) and a page to tell us where your plot is headed.

NB: if you’re looking for more in-depth feedback (including tutor-led writing workshops and ongoing one-to-one support) as part of a writing course, do take a look at our longer, selective writing course.


All students will be given the option to purchase feedback on their final task from a CBC editor (a published author with relevant teaching/editorial experience).

  • CBC report: For an additional fee of £145, you can obtain a detailed 500-word report on your work (of up to 3,000 words) from one of our editors.
  • CBC report + tutorial: For an additional fee of £240, you can obtain a 500-word report from one of our editors and have a 30-minute video or telephone tutorial with them to discuss your work.


Each week students will gain access to a new module based on a practical novel-writing topic. Our bespoke learning platform features separate forum spaces for all six teaching topics, arranged in a clear structure that’s easy to use. Our online learning space allows students to quickly find and take part in discussions and to easily locate task materials they’d like to refer back to.


Introduction and Reading as a Writer

Learn why writers should read as much as possible – and how to use your reading to help your writing.


Inspiration and Ideas

Discover some tricks to help you find inspiration and generate ideas – and then develop them into story.


Plotting, Planning and Story

We work through some approaches to plotting and planning – find out what’s right for you and your novel


Voice, Narration and Point of View

Figure out the best way to tell your story, including narrative perspective and time structure


Questions of Character

Creative vivid and memorable characters and get to know your protagonist and their motivation


Writing Your Opening

First lines, first pages and first chapters: How to write that all-important opening to your novel.


We’re excited to have you join our community of writers.

Choose your preferred option from the right-hand-side and click the ‘Pay & Enrol’ button by 20 Sept 2022 (Midnight, end of day). Make sure that you agree to the Terms and Conditions. If you’re buying this course as a gift for someone else, please confirm that they are over 18 and accept our Terms and Conditions. If you have a discount code you can input the details at payment. You will be shown a secure credit card form for payment. Once you have paid you will receive an email confirming your enrolment.

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