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Three-Month Novel-Writing Course

Deep-dive into your novel with expert tuition, a strong peer group and advice from literary agents. All online, and with flexible scheduling. *Scholarship Available*


May 27 2020 - Aug 24 2020


Take this course from anywhere in the world

Selective Entry

We offer places to the most talented applicants

Course Fee £1,600

Work on your novel with the experts


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 in London. 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.

Author and experienced tutor Lisa O’Donnell will give direct feedback to students on their novels-in-progress via weekly online workshops, one-to-one tutorials and writing exercises. Via our online learning platform, you’ll get access to teaching videos, notes and resources from our CBC tutor team (listed below).

The Curtis Brown and C&W literary agents plus an experienced 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 teams at Curtis Brown and C&W.

In the nine years since we first launched Curtis Brown Creative, over 90 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. The film adaptation of The Good Liar starring Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren was released in 2019. A film adaptation of The Dry is currently in production and will star Eric Bana. 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, author of Saturdays at Noon


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.


Editing on a computer

Teaching Videos & Tasks

Advice on key topics from our tutor team

The course takes a new topic each week. You'll get teaching videos and notes from our tutor team, and Lisa will add her thoughts on each module and set tasks for the group - writing exercises or discussion. Topics tackled include plotting, characterisation, point-of-view and rewriting. 

Curtis Brown Creative learning portal

Writing Workshops

Led by Lisa O'Donnell

You'll get two 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 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 two 30 minute, one-to-one tutorials with your tutor Lisa O'Donnell, conducted 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 an experienced publisher

We'll give you advice on how to pitch your novel effectively, and then an experienced editor will give individual written feedback to all students.

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 Lisa 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.

Handwriting your novel

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. This is not a formal submission to the agency but a chance to give the agents a taste of your work at this stage.

Felicity Blunt, literary agent

Webinar with Felicity Blunt

Join a live video chat with a top UK literary agent

Students will take part in a special 90 minute video webinar with Curtis Brown's Felicity Blunt. Felicity will discuss what literary agents do and answer your questions about publishing.


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 and the tutor. It’ll be your turn to get the group’s dedicated workshop attention two 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 and with an experienced publisher. You’ll also get teaching videos from your tutor Lisa O’Donnell 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 £1,600 (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 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.

One talented writer of limited financial means will receive a fully paid place on this course. Find out more and apply for the HW Fisher Novel-Writing Scholarship here.

Course Schedule


Inspiration and Reading as Writers

Wednesday 27 May – Sunday 31 June

With videos from Anna Davis and Chris Wakling

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Monday 1 June – Sunday 7 June

With videos from Lisa O’Donnell

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Writing from Life

Monday 8 June – Sunday 14 June

With videos from Nikita Lalwani

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Story, Plotting & Planning

Monday 15 June – Sunday 21 June

With videos from Chris Wakling

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Voice and Narrative Point of View

Monday 22 June – Sunday 28 June

With videos from Nikita Lalwani

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Monday 29 June – Sunday 5 July

With videos from Suzannah Dunn

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Description, Tone & Style

Monday 6 July – Sunday 12 July

With videos from Erin Kelly

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Monday 13 July – Sunday 19 July

With videos from Suzannah Dunn

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Building Suspense

Monday 20 July – Sunday 26 July

With videos from Erin Kelly

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Monday 27 July – Sunday 2 August

With videos from Lisa O’Donnell

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Editing and Rewriting

Monday 3 August – Sunday 9 August

With videos from Jake Arnott

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The Synopsis

Monday 10 August – Sunday 16 August

With videos from Anna Davis and a synopsis workshop with your tutor

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Final Questions

Monday 17 August – Sunday 23 August

A second synopsis workshop with your tutor and a chance to ask questions that have arisen for you across the course and get answers from your tutor in this final teaching week

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End of Course Submission

Monday 24 August

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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