Writing Historical Fiction

6 weeks
Start Date
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Writing Historical Fiction

From Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell Trilogy to the novels of Robert Graves, Phillippa Gregory, Tracy Chevalier and Andrea Levy, historical fiction continually captivates us – offering an escape into the past while also shedding light on the present.

Across six weeks, Stephanie Merritt (S J Parris) will travel with you into the past drawing on her own experience in writing her bestselling series about the 16th Century heretic philosopher and spy Giordano Bruno.

Whether you’re fascinated by the Tudors, intoxicated by the Roaring Twenties or immersed in Victorian London, Stephanie will equip you with the tools to help you research your story, construct your plot, and bring your chosen historical moment vividly to life in novel form.

I found this course to be the most useful I have done over many years. Each component of it was well-targeted and very professional…It was a great vehicle for going more deeply into specific aspects of my work-in-progress.

Jan Dickinson


S J Parris

Stephanie Merritt is an author and journalist. Writing as S J Parris, she is the bestselling author of the Giordano Bruno series, which follows the renegade monk, philosopher and heretic Giordano Bruno in Elizabethan England. The sixth novel in the series Execution was published by HarperCollins in 2020. Stephanie regularly writes for the Observer and the Guardian.


  • Video modules: Work through six modules comprising teaching videos from Stephanie, offering a practical and inspiring approach to help you understand the key elements of historical fiction as you craft your own narrative.
  • Writing tasks: Weekly writing tasks to help you explore and understand the teaching topics and progress your novel.
  • Resources & notes: You’ll get access to comprehensive teaching notes and reference materials, including extracts and a plot breakdown from Stephanie's S J Parris novels to illustrate how she puts her advice to work.
  • Professional feedback: An expert CBC editor will give brief written feedback on several of the students' practical assignments every week, with all students receiving feedback on one of their writing tasks. Students are also given the option to purchase additional end-of-course feedback from our expert editors.
  • Student forum: Find your writing community on our private student forums. Upload your completed writing tasks, give and receive peer-to-peer feedback, and discuss the week’s topics with your fellow students and the CBC team.


Our online courses are designed for flexible learning. Allocate your own study time and take part from wherever you are in the world. Each week, we recommend spending at least four hours on the course. It’s also important to be planning and working on your novel throughout the six weeks.

  • WEEK 1
    Introduction & choosing your period
  • WEEK 2
    Researching & worldbuilding
  • WEEK 3
    Character & narrative perspective
  • WEEK 4
    Character & voice
  • WEEK 5
    Structure & plotting
  • WEEK 6
    Moving forward


All students will be given the option to purchase feedback on their final task from a CBC editor.

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