Writing YA & Children’s Fiction

Learn how to write exciting and engaging YA, Middle Grade, and Children's Fiction on our three-month online course with weekly live Zoom teaching sessions.


27 Apr 2022 - 27 Jul 2022

Online & on Zoom

Live Zoom lessons and work-sharing on our Learn platform

Selective Entry

We offer places to the most talented applicants

Course Fee £1,800

Work on your novel with the experts


Do you want to write engaging stories for younger readers? We’re delighted to offer this in-depth online and Zoom course specialising in how to write YA, Middle-Grade, and children’s fiction (for the over 7s). Join a peer-group of 15 talented writers for three months of expert teaching, special industry advice and one-to-one tuition.

YA and children’s authors Emily Barr and Craig Barr-Green will lead the teaching on alternating weeks for this course – meaning you’ll get two experienced teaching perspectives and two distinct teaching voices focused on your work across three months. We’re very excited about this dynamic teaching duo! Emily and Craig have experience leading writing workshops in tandem and they’re looking forward to steering this group together. They will give direct feedback to students on their novels-in-progress via weekly Zoom lessons and workshops, one-to-one tutorials and writing exercises.

In the eleven years since we first launched Curtis Brown Creative, over 150 of our former students have gone on to get major publishing deals for their novels. These include bestseller and Waterstones Children’s Book Prize winner Lisa Williamson, YA fantasy author Michelle Kenny, as well as middle-grade authors Struan Murray, Penny Chrimes, Ann-Marie Howell and Jenny Pearson who was shortlisted for the 2020 Costa Children’s Book Award. 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.

‘Huge thanks for sending Emily into my writing life, we get on brilliantly – she “gets” the book – and me – which is the most wonderful gift.’

Kitty Buchanan-Gregory, Former CBC mentee


Emily Barr, Author

Emily Barr wrote and published twelve novels for adults before turning to YA. Her first novel for young adults, The One Memory of Flora Banks, was the bestselling YA debut of 2017. The Truth and Lies of Ella Black, her second YA thriller, came out January 2018, and a third – The Girl Who Came Out of the Woods was published in 2019. Her most recent coming-of-age thriller Things to Do Before the End of the World was published in 2020. Emily is a CBC tutor and mentor and has also taught at Faber Academy.

Craig Barr-Green, Author

Craig Barr-Green is the author of two award-winning children’s books set in Cornwall, Captured! and A Christmas in Cornwall, plus one non fiction book for Puffin, The Extraordinary Life of Steve Jobs. In 2010 he founded Clickety Books, an award-winning small press that focuses on speech and language development for children. He has written for radio with Rik Mayall, and Craig’s debut play, The One Memory of Flora Banks, co-written with Emily Barr, was commissioned by the Hall for Cornwall Youth Theatre. Craig regularly runs writing workshops for all ages and is often found bouncing around on stage performing storytelling shows at festivals. He also lectures Children’s and Young Adult Writing at Falmouth University.


Weekly Zoom Lessons

Get expert advice from your tutors

The course focuses on a new topic each week. You'll meet weekly on Wednesdays with your group on Zoom. Sessions will be led by Emily and Craig on alternating weeks, topics range from characterisation and worldbuilding to other discussions relevant to the current YA and children’s fiction market.

Curtis Brown Creative learning portal

Writing Workshops

Led by Emily and Craig

You'll get two dedicated workshops centring on material from your novel-in-progress with your tutor and the group (extracts of 3,000 words, each time). One of your workshops will be led by Emily and the other by Craig. After these sessions, students will be invited to continue the discussion with written posts on our Learn 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 tutors.

One-to-One Tutorials

Extracts of your novel will be reviewed by your tutors

You'll get two 45-minute, one-to-one tutorials one with Emily and one with Craig. Tutorials will be conducted over the phone or Zoom, based on 3,000-word sections of your novel-in-progress. Use these tutorials to address specific concerns about your writing.

Synopsis Advice

Expert critique of 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 get individual feedback from an experienced member of the CBC editor team.

Pitch Letter Session

Agent feedback on your letter & elevator pitch

We'll give you the vital dos and don'ts of agent pitch letters and elevator pitches – you'll then write your own and get in-depth written feedback on both the letter and the short pitch from Curtis Brown/C&W literary agents.

Literary Agent Masterclass

Join a live video chat with a YA and children's fiction agent

Students will take part in a special 60-minute Zoom masterclass with a Curtis Brown literary agent Stephanie Thwaites. She will discuss what literary agents do and answer your questions about YA and children's publishing.

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 fourteen fellow students week by week, and provide constructive written comments on their work. 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

We offer 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, a five-day intensive alumni summer school, editorial reports on your completed novel, submission reports on your ‘pitch package,’ and alumni discounts on many of our courses. If you’d like further details about these services, and current prices, before applying to this course, you can email us on cbccourses@curtisbrown.co.uk .

Additionally, all students from our selective courses 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.

Guest Speakers


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 £1,800 (inc VAT) per student is payable, in full, by bank transfer. 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 cbccourses@curtisbrown.co.uk for assistance.

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 on cbccourses@curtisbrown.co.uk with full details and we will consider and respond on a case by case basis.

Course Schedule

Weekly teaching sessions will take place via Zoom on Wednesday evenings from  7pm to 8.45pm (UK time).



Weds 27 April – 7pm-9pm

Introductory Zoom session with your tutors Emily and Craig, as well as a member of the CBC team.

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Weds 4 May – 7pm-8.45pm

Zoom session with Craig + Writing Workshops

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Weds 11 May – 7pm-8.45pm

Zoom session with Emily + Writing Workshops

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Plotting, planning & research

Weds 18 May – 7pm-8.45pm

Zoom session with Craig + Writing Workshops

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Point of view

Weds 25 May – 7pm-8.45pm

Zoom session with Emily + Writing Workshops

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Getting unstuck

Weds 1 June – 7pm-8.45pm

Zoom session with Craig + Writing Workshops

Students to be briefed by CBC team on writing synopses.

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Tues 7 June – 7pm-8.15pm

Attend a special Zoom masterclass with Curtis Brown literary agent Stephanie Thwaites, students will be invited to ask questions about the submissions process and the current YA and children’s publishing landscape.

Weds 8 June

Teaching videos and notes on the Learn platform from Anna Davis.

Students are required to post synopses on the forum by 9am, Weds 15 June and written feedback from an expert CBC editor will follow before Weds 22 June.

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Worldbuilding & setting

Weds 15 June  – 7pm-8.45pm

Zoom session with Emily + Writing Workshops

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Description & pacing

Weds 22 June – 7pm-8.45pm

Zoom session with Craig + Writing Workshops

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Weds 29 June  – 7pm-8.45pm

Zoom session with Emily + Writing Workshops

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Weds 6 July – 7pm-8.45pm

Zoom session with Craig + Writing Workshops

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Editing & Endings

Weds 13 July  – 7pm-8.45pm

Zoom session with Emily + Writing Workshops

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Weds 20 July – 7pm-9pm

Goodbye Zoom session and discussion of next steps with Emily and Craig.

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End of course submission

Weds 27 July

Students to submit their 3,000-word opening and one-page synopsis to be read by the Curtis Brown and C&W literary 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 27 March, and we will respond to applicants by Thursday 31 March.

Not quite ready?

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