Writing YA & Children’s Fiction – Three Months

3 months

Application Deadline
11th Sep 2022
Applicant Notification
15th Sep 2022
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Writing YA & Children’s Fiction – Three Months

Learn how to write engaging, imaginative stories for younger readers.

We’re delighted to offer this in-depth online course specialising in YA, Middle Grade, and children’s fiction (for the over 7s). Join a group of 15 writers, for three months of expert teaching and special industry advice, all hosted on our secure online learning platform.

YA and children’s author and experienced tutor Catherine Johnson will give direct feedback to students on their novels-in-progress during weekly online workshops, one-to-one tutorials and writing exercises. You’ll also watch exclusively recorded teaching videos from Catherine, which are accompanied by notes and resources.

I cannot overstate the huge impact the course had on my writing. I started to take my writing way more seriously and dedicated time to it.

Jenny Pearson
Children's author & 2020 Costa Children’s Book Award Shortlistee


Catherine Johnson, Author

Catherine Johnson

Catherine Johnson has written over 20 books for children and young adults, including Sawbones, which won the Young Quills Prize for best Historical Fiction in the 12+ category and was nominated for the Carnegie medal in 2015. Her book Freedom won the 2019 Little Rebels Award for Radical Children's Fiction.

What does this course give you?

  • Teaching videos: Across 12 teaching modules, videos and notes will be made available on our learning platform, covering a range of topics such as worldbuilding, characterisation, point-of-view and rewriting. All delivered by Catherine.
  • 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.
  • Guided teaching: Catherine will teach on a variety of novel-writing topics in our interactive online learning platforms. She will also set homework tasks to further your learning.
  • Writing workshops: Across the course, you'll get two dedicated workshops centring on 3,000-word extracts from your novel-in-progress. These sessions offer in-depth feedback, and are also designed to help develop your self-editing skills.
  • 1-to-1 tutorials: You'll get two 45-minute, one-to-one tutorials with Catherine. Tutorials will be based on 3,000-word extracts of your novel-in-progress. Use these tutorials to address your specific concerns about your writing. Near the end of the course all students will also get a 45-minute one-to-one with an experienced CBC editor or a Curtis Brown/C&W literary agent. They will read a 6,000-word extract from your novel-in-progress plus your synopsis.
  • Industry masterclass: Join a live Zoom session with a top UK literary agent or publisher, they will talk about writing, editing and the submissions process, drawing on their experience of real-life publication journeys – with a specific focus on the market place for YA, Middle Grade and children’s fiction. There will also be an opportunity to ask questions.
  • Synopsis & agent letter advice: We’ll draw on our expertise to give you the vital ingredients needed for a great synopsis and the all-important pitch letter. Individual feedback will come from experienced members of the CBC editorial team and/or a Curtis Brown/C&W literary agent.
  • 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 as well as a select group of agents from other UK-based agencies. 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

  • Inspiration
    Mon 3 Oct – Fri 7 Oct
  • Beginnings
    Mon 10 Oct – Fri 14 Oct
  • Characterisation
    Mon 17 Oct – Fri 21 Oct
  • Point of View
    Mon 24 Oct – Fri 28 Oct
  • Worldbuilding
    Mon 31 Oct – Fri 4 Nov
  • Everything matters
    Mon 7 Nov – Fri 11 Nov
  • Synopsis
    Mon 14 Nov – Fri 18 Nov
  • Dialogue & Description
    Mon 21 Nov – Fri 30 Nov
  • Planning & Plotting
    Mon 28 Nov – Fri 2 Dec
  • Troubleshooting
    Mon 5 Dec – Fri 9 Dec
  • Endings & Resolutions
    Mon 12 Dec – Fri 17 Dec
  • Winter Break
    No more teaching until the new year
  • Editing & Rewriting
    Mon 9 Jan – Fri 13 Jan
  • End of course submission
    Mon 31 Jan


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 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 Sun 11 Sept, and we will respond to applicants by Thurs 15 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.