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

Apply to this competitive writing course

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 an expert tutor, a peer-group of 15 fellow writers (selective applications process), teaching videos, special industry advice days, writing workshops and one-to-one tuition, all hosted on our secure learning platform.

Over 60 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.

This online course has flexible timing for participation from anywhere in the world.


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


The key components are:

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Student Forum

The hub of our online courses: find your writing community

A space to give and receive feedback, and discuss the week’s topics with your fellow students and Catherine Johnson.

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Teaching Videos

Get expert advice from a published author

Specially filmed teaching videos, presented by Catherine Johnson, featuring great tips and advice on the writing process and YA and Children’s fiction market.


Resources & Notes

Comprehensive teaching notes and reference materials that are yours to keep.

You’ll get access to multiple resources and teaching notes from Catherine, including actionable writing tips and lists of recommended reading.

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Weekly Workshops

Online workshops led by Catherine Johnson

You’ll get two opportunities to share 3,000 words of your novel with Catherine and the group and receive in-depth feedback.


One-to-one tutorials

Extracts of your novel will be reviewed by your tutor

Catherine will read and provide feedback on two further 3,000-word extracts from your novel during a 45 minute Skype or phone call.


Industry Q&A

Ask YA & Children’s editors your questions

An online session with Curtis Brown and C&W literary agents specialising in children’s and Young Adult fiction, along with a top children's writing publisher.

Stephanie Thwaites agent

Letters to agents session

Get feedback on the all-important pitch letter

Post your pitch letter online and get feedback from the agents at Curtis Brown and C&W. At the end of the course you’ll submit 3,000 words of your novel, plus a synopsis, which will also be shared with the agents.


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.


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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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  • Personal Details

  • Please include country code is applicable
  • eg. name@domain.com
  • We won't share this data
  • Application Details

  • No more than 150 words please....
  • State here the details of any previously published work, awards, prizes and other writing achievements
  • Accepted file types: pdf, txt, doc, rtf, docx.
    Please upload your synopsis and opening chapter in one document. Only PDF, TXT and DOC files accepted, file size must be less than 8mb