Writing YA and Children’s Fiction With Catherine Johnson

This three-month online course is for those working on YA, Middle Grade or Young Fiction.


Oct 14 2019 - Jan 27 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


An online course specialising in how to write YA, Middle Grade and Young Fiction (for the over 7s) with a peer-group of 15 writers (selective applications process), teaching videos, special industry advice days, writing workshops and one-to-one tuition, all hosted on our secure learning platform.

YA and children’s author and experienced tutor Catherine Johnson 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 specially  teaching videos, notes and resources

In the eight years since we first launched Curtis Brown Creative, over 70 of our former students have gone on to get major publishing deals for their novels, we’ve had some fantastic success stories from students writing children’s fiction and YA. These include bestseller and Waterstones Children’s Book Prize winner Lisa Williamson, YA fantasy author Michelle Kenny, as well as soon to be published Struan MurrayAnn-Marie Howell and Jenny Pearson. You can find out more about some of our recent children’s writing 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.

‘Catherine was an excellent tutor and her experience showed, giving feedback which was balanced and encouraging with a healthy dose of tough love. I don’t think anyone can look back at her comments on their text and say she wasn’t right.’
David Hendry, former student of the Writing YA and Children’s Fiction course


Catherine Johnson, author

Catherine Johnson has written over 15 books for children and young adults since 1993, including the award-winning Sawbones. Her latest book, Freedom, came out in 2018 and was nominated for the Carnegie medal. ‘Catherine wants us to be the best writers we can be and her passion was clear throughout’ Ian Brooks, Online Writing for Children student


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Teaching Videos & Tasks

Get expert advice from author Catherine Johnson

The course focuses on a new topic each week. You'll get teaching videos and notes presented by Catherine, featuring actionable writing tips, lists of recommend reading and information on the YA and Children’s fiction market.


Writing Workshops

Led by Catherine Johnson

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.

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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 reviewed by Catherine Johnson

You'll get two 45 minute, one-to-one tutorials with your Catherine, 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.


Publishing Industry Q&A

Get answers from YA & Children’s agents and editors

In a special session, you'll put questions to Curtis Brown and C&W literary agents specialising in children’s and Young Adult fiction, along with a top children's writing publisher. Gain their answers on how to navigate the choppy waters of the publishing industry.

Stephanie Thwaites agent

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 YA and Children's agents from Curtis Brown and C&W will give you written feedback, plus their tips on how to bypass the slush pile.

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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 YA and Children's 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.


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.

Hand Writing


Our selective applications process means that you will be writing your novel in a peer group of 15 students working at a high level.

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 don’t be deterred from applying, in the event that you are offered a course place we can discuss a payment plan if circumstances require. We regret that we are unable to refund fees, and would suggest students make their own insurance arrangements if required.

Please upload your application via the form below. If you encounter any problems during the application process, or have any more questions about the course, please email cbccourses@curtisbrown.co.uk for assistance.

Course Schedule



Monday 14 October

Videos and notes from Catherine

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Monday 21 October

Videos and notes from Catherine + Writing Workshop

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Monday 28 October

Videos and notes from Catherine + Writing Workshop

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Break Week

Monday 4 November

Videos and notes from Catherine + Writing Workshop

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Point of View

Monday 11 November

Videos and notes from Catherine + Writing Workshop

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Monday 18 November

Videos and notes from Catherine + Writing Workshop

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Everything Matters

Monday 25 November

Videos and notes from Catherine + Writing Workshop

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Dialogue and Description

Monday 2 December

Videos and notes from Catherine + Writing Workshop

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Planning, Plotting and Dreaming

Monday 9 December

Videos and notes from Catherine + Writing Workshop

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Children’s Writing Troubleshooting

Monday 16 December

Videos and notes from Catherine + Writing Workshop

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Endings and Resolutions

Monday 6 January

Videos and notes from Catherine + Writing Workshop

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Editing and Rewriting

Monday 13 January

Videos and notes from Catherine + Conclusions

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The Synopsis

Monday 20 January

Videos and notes from Catherine

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End of course submission

Monday 27 January

Students to submit their 3,000-word opening and one-page synopsis to be read by the Curtis Brown children’s and YA 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 15th September, and we will respond to applicants by Thursday 19th September.

Not quite ready?

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