Writing Your Novel – Six Months
Our flagship in-person Writing Your Novel course is designed for writers who are serious about developing their novel to its full potential.
With weekly teaching and workshopping on Wednesday evenings in the Curtis Brown offices on Regent Street, plus one-to-one tutorials and special masterclasses with publishing industry experts, this course will help you hone your craft and make real progress with your novel. It’s ideal for those looking for a practical in-person alternative to a postgraduate creative writing course.
You’ll join a group of 15 talented writers for dynamic and inspiring classes from experienced tutor Laura Barnett. Laura is the bestselling author of four books, including The Versions of Us, and has taught many novel-writing courses for CBC in London and online. Teaching will cover how to create a strong narrative arc and convincing characters, as well as key techniques that will help you bring your story to life, from dialogue to description, tone and style.
You will also get invaluable insights from publishers and literary agents during exclusive masterclasses throughout your time on this course. At the end of the course, you’ll be given the opportunity to share the opening of your novel with Curtis Brown and C&W literary agents.
This course will also take a four-week break over the summer, to allow students extra time to work on their novels-in-progress and to reflect on what they've learnt before joining us again in September, feeling refreshed and ready for more workshops, tutorials and teaching from Laura.
Over 200 of our students have gone on to become commercially published authors, including Bonnie Garmus, author of the million-copy bestseller, Lessons in Chemistry. Previous students of our six-month London-based course include Lucy Barker (The Other Side of Mrs Wood), James Bailey (The Flip Side) and Amita Parikh (The Circus Train). Whether you’re in the early stages of writing, halfway through a first draft or embarking on a major rewrite, this course will give you the push you need to get the most out of your novel.
Course runs from 22 May 2024 to 27 November 2024.
Attending the CBC course was a major catalyst in my writing career - not only did I finish and publish the novel I started, but I ended up with friends for life.
Bestselling author of The Circus Train
Laura’s first novel, The Versions of Us (2015) was a number-one bestseller, it has been translated into 24 languages, and was shortlisted for Debut of the Year at the British Book Awards. She’s had three further books out since then: Greatest Hits (2017), which features an accompanying musical soundtrack by Kathryn Williams; Gifts (2021), a novel in short stories; and This Beating Heart (2022). Her fifth novel, Births, Deaths and Marriages, will be published in 2025. She delivered a TedX talk on originality in fiction, and worked as a writing mentor for the charity Arts Emergency. She is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University’s Writing School. Laura has taught many novel-writing courses for CBC in London and online, and she currently mentors members of our alumni community.
Read our interview with course tutor Laura to discover more about her writing and approaches to teaching creative writing.
A.L. Kennedy was born in Dundee. She lived for almost 30 years in Glasgow and now stays in North Essex. She has won a variety of UK and international book awards, including a Lannan Award, the Costa Prize, The Heinrich Heine Preis, the Somerset Maugham Award and the John Llewellyn Rees Prize. She has twice been included on the Granta Best of Young British Novelists list. She has written 9 novels, 6 short story collections, 3 books of non fiction and 3 books for children. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a member of the Akademie der Kunst. She also writes for the stage, screen, TV and has created an extensive body of radio work including documentaries, monologues, dramas and essays. She also performs occasionally in one person shows and as a stand up comic.
What does this course give you?
- Live teaching in London: On Wednesday evenings tutor Laura Barnett will deliver two-hour teaching sessions in the Curtis Brown offices on Regent Street. Each session will include an hour of workshopping (three students will have work discussed each week) and an hour of teaching – on topics including how to hook readers from the outset, master point of view, build suspense and develop strong scenes. Laura will also set homework tasks to further your learning.
- 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. Many of our former students have found their trusted readers with us and formed strong working friendships that go on long after the course is over.
- Writing workshops: Workshops centre on 3,000-word extracts from your novel-in-progress, and your work will be workshopped by the group three times during the course. These sessions offer in-depth feedback from your student group and tutor and are also designed to help develop your self-editing skills.
- One-to-one tutorials: You’ll get two 25-minute, one-to-one tutorials with Laura during the course. Tutorials are based on 3,000-word extracts from your novel-in-progress and are an excellent opportunity to address specific concerns about your writing. Towards 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 who will read up to 6,000 words from your novel-in-progress plus your synopsis.
- Four industry masterclasses: We invite leading literary agents, authors and publishers to attend special sessions during which you will have the opportunity to ask questions about writing, editing, submitting to agents and the publishing process. Our special guests will draw on their experience of real-life publication journeys and share their insights with you.
- Guest tutor sessions: Renowned author A.L. Kennedy will lead two guest teaching sessions midway through the course (as listed on the schedule), sharing her unique approach to writing through thoughtful and inspiring lessons. She will share wisdom from her writing career and set relevant tasks for the group.
- Synopsis & agent letter feedback: We’ll give you the vital ingredients needed for a great synopsis and pitch letter. You will receive notes on your synopsis from an experienced member of the CBC editorial team and attend a live pitching session with two Curtis Brown/C&W literary agents.
- End-of-course celebration: To mark the course coming to a close, you will attend a special two-hour reception with tea, cake and fizz. This celebration will give you a chance to mingle informally with your fellow students, the CBC team and literary agents from Curtis Brown and C&W.
- Submitting to agents: Ahead of the end of course celebration, all students will be invited to submit their 3,000-word novel opening, 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 what you’re working on. When you are ready to submit formally – no matter how long after your course has finished – the CBC team will provide guidance and support with your submission to the Curtis Brown and C&W agents.
- Alumni services: At the end of your course, you’ll be given access to a range of exclusive writing services, available only to the alumni of our selective courses. These services include one-to-one mentoring, full manuscript reports and submission reports on your ‘pitch package’. Read more about the opportunities available to our alumni here.
COURSE SCHEDULE & DELIVERY
All teaching and workshop sessions will take place on Wednesday evenings from 7pm to 9pm (unless otherwise stated below). Classes will be held in the Writers’ Room of the new Curtis Brown offices (Cunard House, 15 Regent Street, London, SW1Y 4LR).
In extenuating circumstances, classes may be moved from London to Zoom, with prior notification to all concerned.
Please note that precise dates of sessions and details of course speakers are subject to change.
WEEK 1: INSPRATION AND READING AS WRITERSWeds 22 May, 7–9pm
WEEK 2: OPENINGS IWeds 29 May, 7–9pm
WEEK 3: OPENINGS IIWeds 5 Jun, 7–9pm
WEEK 4: WRITING FROM LIFEWeds 12 Jun, 7–9pm
WEEK 5: STORY, PLOTTING & PLANNING IWeds 19 Jun, 7–9pm
WEEK 6: STORY, PLOTTING & PLANNING IITues 26 Jun, 7–9pm
WEEK 7: VOICE & NARRATIVE POINT OF VIEWWeds 3 Jul, 7–9pm
WEEK 8: PLACE & SETTINGWeds 10 Jul, 7–9pm
WEEK 9: CHARACTERISATION IWeds 17 Jul, 7–9pm
WEEK 10: CHARACTERISATION IIWeds 24 Jul, 7–9pm
WEEK 11: SYNOPSIS ONLINEWeds 31 Jul, 7–9pm
WEEK 12: GUEST TUTOR MINI-COURSE WEEK 1Weds 11 Sep, 7–9pm
WEEK 13: GUEST TUTOR MINI-COURSE WEEK 2Weds 18 Sep, 7–9pm
WEEK 14: DESCRIPTION, TONE & STYLEWeds 25 Sep, 7–9pm
WEEK 15: DIALOGUEWeds 2 Oct, 7–9pm
WEEK 16: BUILDING SUSPENSEWeds 9 Oct, 7–9pm
WEEK 17: ENDINGS IWeds 16 Oct, 7–9pm
WEEK 18: ENDINGS IIWeds 23 Oct, 7–9pm
BREAK WEEK FOR HALF TERM28 Oct – 1 Nov
WEEK 19: EDITING & REWRITINGWeds 6 Nov, 7–9pm
WEEK 20: AGENT LETTER & PITCH WORKSHOPWeds 13 Nov, 7–9pm
WEEK 21: CONCLUSIONWeds 20 Nov, 7–9pm
WEEK 22: END OF COURSE SUBMISSIONWeds 27 Nov
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.
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 28 April, and we will respond to applicants by Thursday 2 May.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
Study with us in London for six months on our flagship novel-writing course. Expert tuition and advice from publishing professionals delivered in lively evening sessions. Instalment plan available.