Covid-19 update London-based courses to return this autumn, with safety still our top concern – find out more here.

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Writing Your Novel – Six Months

Our flagship novel-writing course is back in London. Make your story shine with expert tuition and feedback from publishing professionals.

COURSE DATES

Feb 24 2022 - Aug 01 2022

In London

Weekly sessions in person (with some teaching on Zoom)

Selective Entry

We offer places to the 15 most talented applicants

Course Fee £3,190

Work on your novel with the experts

Overview

If you’re working on a novel and want to take your writing seriously, get the best out of your work-in-progress and learn how to pitch to agents and publishers with confidence, then our flagship six-month course is you. Tutor Jake Arnott will help you to maximise your potential (whether you’re in the early stages of writing or even reworking a complete draft), through weekly writing workshops, one-to-one tutorials and teaching sessions on key topics such as how to create memorable characters, write authentic dialogue and develop a strong arc for your story.

In addition to joining a group of 15 writers for weekly classes, you’ll take part in four special publishing industry speaker events, with Curtis Brown or C&W literary agents, tops authors, and fiction editors (from major publishing houses) – during which our guests will share their experience and insights with you and answer your questions. Plus you’ll join a two-part ‘mini-course’ from an acclaimed author.

You’ll also attend a pitch letter workshop with two literary agents and get feedback on your synopsis from an experienced editor. And towards the end of the course, you’ll get an industry-oriented tutorial with either a member of the Curtis Brown or C&W agenting team, or a CBC editor with substantial publishing experience, based on 6,000 words from your work-in-progress. Then, at the very end of the course, students get to share the opening of their novels informally with the agent teams at Curtis Brown and C&W.

To support all of this you’ll gain access to a secure discussion space (specifically for your course group) on our bespoke online platform, with further resources from our CBC tutor team to enrich the course materials.

In the ten years since we first launched Curtis Brown Creative, over 140 of our former students have gone on to get major publishing deals for their novels. We’ve had some fantastic success stories across all genres, including Jessie Burton (The Miniaturist), Kate Hamer with (The Girl in the Red Coat), Rachel Marks (Saturdays at Noon) and Jane Harper (The Dry). You can read more about our course 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.

‘Jake was a phenomenal tutor! He gave the most insightful feedback and somehow always knew what to do to make the story flow better. It is most impressive that he managed to do this across so many different styles and genres. And he always gave feedback in a way that was completely honest but at the same time really sensitive. I cannot even express how much his comments and overall guidance meant to me.’

Radostina Christova, CBC alumna

Tutor

Jake Arnott, author

Jake is the author of seven highly acclaimed novels. The Long Firm was the bestselling debut novel of 1999, and was followed by He Kills Coppers, Truecrime, Johnny Come Home, The Devil's Paintbrush, The House of Rumour and his latest novel The Fatal Tree was published in February 2017. In 2006, The Long Firm was made into a four-part, BAFTA-nominated series for BBC 2 starring Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Strong. In 2008, He Kills Coppers was made into a three-part series for ITV1, starring Rafe Spall and Kelly Reilly.

Teaching in London – supported by Zoom classes

We are so excited about the return of our London courses. We love the energy of our in-person courses, and so do our students. However, your safety is our first concern. We are carefully monitoring the ongoing Covid-19 situation, factoring in government guidance, and should it prove necessary we will move some or even all classes on this course to Zoom.

In-person classes will be held at comfortable, spacious venues in central London (Asia House, unless otherwise specified), and will be fully compliant with government rules on distancing and hygiene. We have a Covid protocol, the current version of which can be read here. The protocol is reviewed, ongoing throughout the duration of the course, and our students and staff will be kept fully informed of any amendments made in their interests.

Teaching sessions and workshops will take place weekly on Thursday evenings and subject to the above we will hold them at a central London location. Guest speaker sessions will take place in London where possible though it may be necessary to hold some sessions on Zoom (subject also to the needs of guest speakers). Please read to the end of this course description and schedule for full details.

For those not familiar with Zoom, it’s a video conferencing platform that enables you to meet up virtually with others. You’ll be able to connect with your class and experience Jake’s teaching live as if you were all in the same room. You’ll get to ask questions and give your thoughts, ensuring the natural back-and-forth you’d encounter in the classroom. It’s easy to use – we’ll send you a link to join the sessions by email – and the CBC team will be on hand to help if you have any problems.

If circumstances dictate that this course runs entirely on Zoom, the fee will be reduced to £2,990.

WHAT DOES THIS COURSE GIVE YOU?

Teaching on the Novel

Lively teaching sessions take place on Thursday evenings

Jake will teach on a variety of novel-writing topics (see schedule), such as characterisation and narrative point of view, with discussion, reading materials and writing exercises. Jake will also set a homework task to further your learning.

Writing Workshops

Led by your tutor

Across the course, you'll get three 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.

Curtis Brown Creative learning platform forum

Student Forum

Find your writing community

We have developed a bespoke learning platform exclusively for our students. Here you can discuss the week’s teaching topic with your fellow students, post homework exercises, and share your written feedback on workshop extracts.

One-to-One Tutorials

Work closely with Jake on your novel

You'll get two 25-minute, one-to-one tutorials with Jake, before the Thursday class starts, based on 3,000 word sections of your novel-in-progress. Use these tutorials to address your specific concerns about your writing.

Guest Tutor Mini-Course

Get a different teaching perspective from our guest tutors

We like to give our students the chance to hear from different experts across the course. An acclaimed author (TBD) will lead two evening teaching sessions on vital writing topics (as listed on the schedule), they'll share wisdom from their writing career and set relevant tasks for the group.

Tutorial with an Industry Professional

Intensive one-to-one discussion of your novel-in-progress

Near the end of the course all students will get a 45-minute one-to-one with an experienced CBC editor or a member of the Curtis Brown/C&W literary agent team. They will read a 6,000-word extract from your novel-in-progress plus your synopsis, and provide detailed feedback and publishing industry advice.

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.

Agent Letter Workshop

Expert feedback on the all-important pitch letter

We'll give you the vital dos and don'ts of agent pitch letters - you'll then write your own and two members of the CB or C&W literary agent team will give you verbal feedback in a group workshop.

Visiting Speaker Sessions

Insights and inspiration from published authors, agents and editors

You’ll attend four special guest speaker sessions – with expert literary agents, authors and a publishing editor. These industry experts will talk about writing, editing and submissions process, they will draw on their experience of real life publication journeys. There will also be opportunities to ask questions. Sessions will take place in London or Zoom depending on the guest.

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 from their novel, plus a synopsis, to be shared with the agent teams at CB and C&W as well as a select group of agents from other UK-based agencies. This is not a formal submission to the agency but a chance to give the agents a taste of your work at this stage.

WORKING WITH OTHER WRITERS

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 comments (both at the group workshop sessions and in writing on our secure online forum space). We find this process helps students develop their own inner editor and has a hugely positive impact on their writing. Each week (see schedule) 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 three 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 Sessions

This course offers in-depth advice and Q&A sessions with literary agents at Curtis Brown and C&W, an author and a publisher. While most of the teaching on this course is in-person, some guest speaker sessions may be scheduled to take place on Zoom.

Application process

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 £3,190 (inc VAT) per student is payable, in full, by bank transfer or cheque before the start of the course. However, 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

All teaching and workshop sessions take place on Thursday evenings in a central London location (Asia House) from 7pm to 9pm. Guest speaker sessions will take place on Tuesday evenings either in a central London location or via Zoom. Location of tutorials are still to be confirmed. The exact dates of guest speaker sessions are subject to change.

Classes may be moved from London to Zoom depending on circumstances, with prior notification to all concerned.

WEEK 1

Introduction

Thurs 24 February

Teaching Session with Anna Davis and Jake Arnott. Anna and Jake will welcome the group to the course, explain how the course works and share what students should do to get the most out of the six-months.

 

see more

WEEK 2

Inspiration and Beginnings

Thurs 3 March

Workshops x 3 + teaching session

Teaching Session and Workshop with Jake Arnott. This week Jake will discuss where writers get their inspiration and look at the beginning of the novel.

 

see more

WEEK 3

Story and Narrative Structure

Tues 8 March

Guest speaker session, location and guests to be confirmed.

Thurs 10 March

Workshops x 3 + teaching session

Teaching Session and Workshop with Jake Arnott. This week Jake will focus on ‘story’ and approaches to narrative structure.

see more

WEEK 4

Character

Thurs 17 March

Workshops x 3 + teaching session

Teaching Session and Workshop with Jake Arnott. This week we explore dynamic ways of making your characters come alive.

 

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WEEK 5

Research

Tues 22 March

Guest speaker session, location and guests to be confirmed.

Thurs 24 March

Workshops x 3 + teaching session

Teaching Session and Workshop with Jake Arnott. This week we look at how we use raw facts to create compelling fiction.

see more

WEEK 6

Point of View

Thurs 31 March

Workshops x 3 + teaching session

Teaching Session and Workshop with Jake Arnott. This week Jake will give guidance on point of view.

see more

WEEK 7

Writing Scenes

Thurs 7 April

Workshops x 3 + teaching session

Teaching Session and Workshop with Jake Arnott. Jake will talk you through what makes a compelling and convincing scene.

see more

WEEK 8

The Middle

Tues 12 April

Guest speaker session, location and guests to be confirmed.

Thurs 14 April, 7–9pm

Workshops x 3 + teaching session

Teaching Session and Workshop with Jake Arnott. That crucial bit between the beginning and the end, the middle is the very heart of your novel. This week we try to find it.

see more

WEEK 9

BREAK WEEK

No session on Thurs 21 April.

see more

WEEK 10

Synopsis

Thurs 28 April

On the Learn platform (no London session)

With videos and notes from Anna Davis. Students will be required to post your synopsis on the forum by 9am, Thurs 5 May and feedback from one of our team of editors will follow before Thurs 12 May.

see more

WEEK 11

Guest Tutor Mini-Course Week 1

Thurs 5 May

With a special guest tutor to be confirmed.

see more

WEEK 12

Guest Tutor Mini-Course Week 2

Wednesday 12 May

Our guest tutor will lead a second teaching session.

see more

WEEK 13

Voice and Tone

Thurs 19 May

Workshops x 3 + teaching session

Teaching Session and Workshop with Jake Arnott. Jake will discuss the different stylistic approaches to novel-writing that an author can take.

see more

WEEK 14

Dialogue

Tues 24 May

Guest speaker session, location and guests to be confirmed.

Thurs 26 May

Workshops x 3 + teaching session

Teaching Session and Workshop with Jake Arnott. How to write dialogue that speaks directly to the reader.

see more

WEEK 15

Character 2

Thurs 2 June

Workshops x 3 + teaching session

Teaching Session and Workshop with Jake Arnott. How to develop your supporting cast and how they interact.

see more

WEEK 16

Writing From Life

Thurs 9 June

Workshops x 3 + teaching session

Teaching Session and Workshop with Jake Arnott. This week Jake will discuss how best to draw inspiration from real life experiences and knowledge.

see more

WEEK 17

Setting

Thurs 16 June

Workshops x 3 + teaching session

Teaching Session and Workshop with Jake Arnott. How we use context, mood and atmosphere to create a compelling sense of place.

see more

WEEK 18

Shape and Structure

Thurs 23 June

Workshops x 3 + teaching session

Teaching Session and Workshop with Jake Arnott. Looking at the architecture of your novel from foundations to interiors.

see more

WEEK 19

Endings

Thurs 30 June

Workshops x 3 + teaching session

Teaching Session and Workshop with Jake Arnott. Looking at how the end determines the story and how to find the right one for your novel.

see more

WEEK 20

Agent Letter and Pitch Workshop

Tues 5 July

Get feedback on your agent letter and pitch from two agents from Curtis Brown or C&W.

see more

WEEK 21

Editing and Rewriting

Thurs 7 July, 7–9pm

Workshops x 3 + teaching session
Teaching Session and Workshop with Jake Arnott. Jake will talk you through techniques and tips for redrafting and editing your manuscript.

see more

WEEK 22

Conclusion

Thurs 14 July

A chance to ask final questions – and farewell
Teaching Session and Goodbyes with Jake Arnott and Anna Davis.

see more

WEEK 23

END OF COURSE SUBMISSION

Monday 1 August

Students to submit 3,000-word opening and one-page synopsis to be read by the Curtis Brown and C&W literary agents.

see more

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 22 January, and we will respond to applicants by Thursday 27 January.

Not quite ready?

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  • Contact Details

    Please provide some essential details so we can get in touch with you about your application. We won't share this data.
  • eg. name@domain.com
  • Please include country code if applicable
  • About You and Your Writing

    We'd like to learn a bit about you and your writing. Don’t worry if you haven’t done much writing before, please fill out in as much detail as possible. We won't share this data.
  • Date Format: DD slash MM slash YYYY
  • No more than 150 words please.
  • We'd like to hear about any jobs or studies that you feel may be of interest and/or relevant to your application
  • Accepted file types: pdf, txt, doc, rtf, docx.
    Please upload your synopsis and opening 3,000 words in one document. Only PDF, TXT and DOC files accepted, file size must be less than 8mb