Writing Crime & Thrillers – Advanced

9 weeks

Application Deadline
4th Sep 2022
Applicant Notification
8th Sep 2022
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Writing Crime & Thrillers – Advanced

Are you plotting the perfect murder – perhaps in the mode of Tana French, Richard Osman or Abir Mukherjee? Or maybe you’re channelling Patricia Highsmith, Gillian Flynn or Paula Hawkins to craft your suspense novel? On this high-level course for people writing crime fiction and psychological thrillers, Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year award-winning author Sarah Hilary will draw you deep into the workings of your genre and reveal the tricks and techniques that can help you take your novel to the next level.

You’ll join a group of 15 crime/thriller writers, tutored by Sarah, for flexibly-timed weekly writing workshops delivered on our bespoke online learning platform, plus live group teaching sessions via Zoom covering important genre-topics, and an in-depth one-to-one tutorial with Sarah towards the end of the course.


Sarah Hilary

Sarah’s debut, Someone Else’s Skin, won the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year 2015 and was a World Book Night selection as well as a Richard & Judy Book Club pick. Sarah is one of the Killer Women, a crime writing collective supporting diversity, innovation and inclusion in their industry. As well as writing, Sarah teaches crime fiction and mentors its rising stars including Nadine Matheson. Her short stories have won the Cheshire Prize for Literature, the Fish Criminally Short Histories Prize, and the SENSE prize.

What does this course give you?

  • Live teaching sessions on Zoom: On six Monday evenings, Sarah will welcome the group for a 90-minute Zoom class, covering topics of significance to crime and thriller writers, such as how to plot a mystery, build suspense and construct a killer twist.
  • A community of writers: Our selective applications process means that you will be writing your novel in a peer group of 15 students working at a high level. 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 tutors. Many of our former students have found their trusted readers with us – and form strong working friendships with classmates which go on long after the course is over.
  • Writing workshop: You’ll get a dedicated workshop centring on a 3,000-word extract from your novel-in-progress. Workshops offer in-depth feedback from your fellow students and tutor, and are also designed to help develop your self-editing skills.
  • 1-to-1 tutorial: You'll get a 45-minute, one-to-one tutorial with Sarah, based on a 3,000-word extract from your novel-in-progress. Use this tutorial to address your specific concerns about your writing.
  • Literary agent masterclass: Join a live Zoom session with a top UK literary agent, they will talk about writing, editing and the submissions process, drawing on their experience of real-life publication journeys. There will also be an opportunity to ask questions.
  • End of course submission: All students will be invited to submit the 3,000-word opening from their novel, plus a synopsis, to be shared with the agent teams at Curtis Brown and C&W. This is not a formal submission but a chance to give the agents a taste of your work at this stage. When you are ready to formally submit – no matter how long after your course has finished – the CBC team will give you guidance and support with your submission to the Curtis Brown and C&W agents.
  • Alumni services: You’ll be given access to 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, editorial reports on your completed novel and submission reports on your ‘pitch package’. Read more about the opportunities available to our alumni here.

Course schedule

  • Openings
    Mon 3 Oct – Fri 7 Oct
  • Structure & Plotting
    Mon 10 Oct – Fri 14 Oct
  • Writing workshops
    Mon 24 Oct – Fri 28 Oct
  • Suspense, clues & misdirection
    Mon 24 Oct – Fri 28 Oct
  • Writing workshops
    Mon 31 Oct – Fri 4 Nov
  • Protagonist, Antagonist & Suspects
    Mon 7 Nov – Fri 11 Nov
  • Industry masterclass + tutorials
    Mon 14 Nov – Fri 18 Nov
  • Forward momentum & editing
    Mon 21 Nov – Fri 25 Nov
  • Course conclusion
    Mon 28 Nov – Fri 2 Dec
  • End of course submission
    Mon 12 Dec

Course fees

The course fee of £960 (inc VAT) per student is payable, in full, by bank transfer or cheque before the start of the course. However, if you are unable to pay the full fee upfront, let us know and we can arrange an instalment plan.

Ready to apply?

Our application form asks some questions about you and your writing – and it also asks you to send us the first 3,000 words of the crime novel or thriller you’re working on and a one-page synopsis.

The CBC team will select applicants based on the quality of the writing sample provided. The deadline for applications is midnight, end of day Sun 4 Sept, and we will respond to applicants by Thurs 8 Sept.

We read all application material promptly after the closing date and make our selection of students swiftly at that time. However if you require an earlier response from us in order to be able to take part in this course, please email us with full details and we will consider and respond on a case by case basis.

If you encounter any problems during the application process, or have any more questions about the course, please email help@curtisbrowncreative.co.uk for assistance.