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Writing Your Novel – Six Months

Our flagship London course, with expert tuition and feedback from publishing professionals. Plus a one-month summer recess to focus on your writing. Scholarship available.

COURSE DATES

01 Jun 2022 - 07 Dec 2022

In London

Weekly sessions in person

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.

We’re excited to be offering two brilliant author-tutors for this course – meaning you’ll get two experienced teaching perspectives and two distinct teaching voices focused on your work across six months. The first half of the course will be taught by Simon Ings and the second by Lizzie Enfield. Your tutors 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.

This course will take a month-long break over the summer, to allow students extra time to work on their novels-in-progress and to reflect on what they’ve learnt from Simon – before joining us again in September, refreshed and ready for more workshops, tutorials and teaching from Lizzie.

In addition to joining a group of 15 writers for weekly classes, you’ll take part in four publishing industry masterclass events, with Curtis Brown or C&W literary agents, top authors and a fiction editor (from a major publishing house) – during which our guests will share their experience and insights with and answer questions. Plus you’ll join a special 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.

In the ten 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. 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.

‘The tutorials were extremely helpful, Simon was enthusiastic, constructive and really helped me to work out the structure/plot of my novel.’

Tilly Rose, former student

Tutor

Simon Ings, Author

Simon Ings is an author and critic based in London. His eight critically acclaimed novels include The Weight of Numbers and Dead Water - and the science fiction novels Hot Head and The Smoke; while his non-fiction includes Stalin and the Scientists and The Eye: A Natural History. As editor of New Scientist magazine's Arc project, he published Margaret Atwood, Kim Stanley Robinson and others. He writes an SF column for the Times, and was on the judging panel for the 2020 Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction. Simon has run workshops and classes for literary festivals and for the Arvon Foundation, and has been a tutor and editor on many of  Curtis Brown Creative's courses.

Lizzie Enfield, Author

Lizzie Enfield is a journalist and regular contributor to national newspapers, magazines and radio. She has written five novels, the latest two published as Elizabeth Enfield, and has had short stories broadcast on Radio Four and published in various magazines. She has taught for the Arvon Foundation, at the Writers Room in Brighton, and at various universities and colleges in addition to her work at CBC. She also writes a monthly writing column for Writing Magazine and is the author of Finish Your Book: How to Complete Your Half-Written Novel. Lizzie is a regular chair/interviewer at literary events, when not appearing to talk about her own books.

Teaching in London

We love the energy of our in-person courses, and so do our students. Weekly teaching sessions will be held at comfortable, spacious venues in central London (currently at Asia House) on Wednesday evenings. One-to-one tutorials will be conducted via Zoom. Masterclasses 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.

We are passionate about the safety and comfort of our students and continue to closely monitor the ongoing Covid-19 situation – you can read the current version of our Covid Protocol 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.

WHAT DOES THIS COURSE GIVE YOU?

Teaching on the Novel

Lively teaching sessions take place on Wednesday evenings

Simon and Lizzie 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. The tutors will also set homework tasks to further your learning.

Writing Workshops

Led by your tutors

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 the tutors on your novel

You'll get two 25-minute, one-to-one tutorials - one with Simon and the other with Lizzie. 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.

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 (as listed on the schedule). They'll share wisdom from their writing career and set relevant tasks for the group.

Four Industry Masterclasses

Insights and inspiration from published authors, agents and editors

You’ll attend four special guest speaker masterclasses. Guests include bestselling author Victoria Hislop and her Curtis Brown agent Jonathan Lloyd. 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.

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.

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 writing services that are exclusive to the alumni of our selective courses – you’ll be able to access these after your course finishes. The 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 Masterclasses

This course offers in-depth advice and Q&A sessions with literary agents at Curtis Brown and C&W, plus authors 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.

Victoria Hislop

Victoria Hislop studied English Literature at Oxford University and afterwards worked in book publishing, PR and journalism. During her time as a journalist, she wrote on education and travel for national newspapers and magazines. Inspired by a visit to Spinalonga, the abandoned Greek leprosy colony, Victoria wrote The Island in 2005 and was named Newcomer of the Year at the British Book Awards.The novel became an international bestseller, with over 5 million copies sold worldwide, and was turned into a 26 part Greek TV series which achieved the highest viewer ratings on record in Greece. This was followed by The Return, set during the Spanish civil war, and then The Thread, which tells the turbulent tale of Thessaloniki and its people across the 20th century. Published in 2011 it was shortlisted for a British Book Award.  The Sunrise, set in Cyprus, was published in September 2014, and was a number one bestseller in the UK and Greece. Cartes Postales from Greece, which is her first work of colour-illustrated fiction, went straight to number one in the UK chart on paperback publication in 2017, and held the position for five weeks. It was short-listed for the British Book Awards fiction title of the year. Those Who Are Loved, published in 2019, tells the story of Greece’s traumatic period of occupation and civil war during the 20th century.  It was a number one bestseller in the UK and Greece. Victoria’s books are translated into more than thirty-five languages and have been bestsellers in China, Greece, France, Israel, Norway and the UK.  She has won several literary awards in France and recently received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Sheffield.

Victoria Hislop


Author

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.

Scholarship

There is also one scholarship place available on this course. We will award one talented writer with limited financial means a fully paid place on this course. If you’re without the financial means to attend a Curtis Brown Creative course, this scholarship opportunity is for you. To submit your application to this Breakthrough Novel-Writing Scholarship for Writers with Low Income please fill in the form found here. Deadline Sun 15 May.

The scholarship is part of the Breakthrough Writers’ Programme, a major outreach initiative offering opportunities to under-represented writers.

Course Schedule

All teaching and workshop sessions will take place on Wednesday evenings (unless otherwise stated below). Classes will be will be held at a central London location (Asia House) from 7pm to 9pm. Guest speaker sessions will take place on Monday evenings from 7pm to 8.30pm, either in London or via Zoom. The exact dates and times of guest masterclass sessions are subject to change.

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

WEEK 1

INSPRATION AND READING AS WRITERS

 

Wednesday 1 June

Group welcome and teaching Session with Anna Davis/a senior member of the CBC team and Simon Ings.

 

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WEEK 2

OPENINGS I

 

Wednesday 8 June

Workshops x 3 + teaching session with Simon Ings.

 

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WEEK 3

OPENINGS II

 

Wednesday 15 June

Workshops x 3 + teaching session with Simon Ings.

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WEEK 4

WRITING FROM LIFE

 

Wednesday 22 June

Workshops x 3 + teaching session with Simon Ings.

 

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WEEK 5

STORY, PLOTTING & PLANNING I

 

Monday 27 June

Guest speaker masterclass.

 

Wednesday 29 June

Workshops x 3 + teaching session with Simon Ings.

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WEEK 6

STORY, PLOTTING & PLANNING II

 

Wednesday 6 July

Workshops x 3 + teaching session with Simon Ings.

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WEEK 7

VOICE & NARRATIVE POINT OF VIEW

 

Wednesday 13 July

Workshops x 3 + teaching session with Simon Ings.

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WEEK 8

PLACE & SETTING

 

Wednesday 20 July

Workshops x 3 + teaching session with Simon Ings.

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WEEK 9

Synopsis Online

 

Monday 25 July – Sunday 31 July

On the Learn platform (no London session this week).

With videos and notes from Anna Davis. you’ll be posting up your synopsis in our private forum space and getting feedback from an expert CBC editor.

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WEEK 10

SUMMER BREAK

No teaching in August.

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WEEK 11

Guest Tutor Mini-Course Week 1

 

Wednesday 7 Sept

With a special guest tutor to be confirmed.

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WEEK 12

Guest Tutor Mini-Course Week 2

 

Wednesday 14 Sept

Our guest tutor will lead a second teaching session.

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WEEK 13

CHARACTERISATION I

 

Wednesday 21 Sept

Workshops x 3 + teaching session with Lizzie Enfield.

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WEEK 14

CHARACTERISATION II

 

Wednesday 28 Sept

Workshops x 3 + teaching session with Lizzie Enfield.

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WEEK 15

DESCRIPTION, TONE & STYLE

 

Wednesday 5 Oct

Workshops x 3 + teaching session with Lizzie Enfield.

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WEEK 16

DIALOGUE

 

Wednesday 12 Oct

Workshops x 3 + teaching session with Lizzie Enfield.

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WEEK 17

BUILDING SUSPENSE

 

Wednesday 19 Oct

Workshops x 3 + teaching session with Lizzie Enfield.

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WEEK 18

Break Week

 

Wednesday 26 October 

October half term. No teaching.

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WEEK 19

ENDINGS I

 

Wednesday 2 Nov

Workshops x 3 + teaching session with Lizzie Enfield

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WEEK 20

ENDINGS II

 

Wednesday 9 Nov

Workshops x 3 + teaching session with Lizzie Enfield

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WEEK 21

Editing & Rewriting

 

Wednesday 16 Nov

Workshops x 3 + teaching session with Lizzie Enfield

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WEEK 22

Agent Letter & Pitch Workshop

 

Wednesday 23 Nov

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

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WEEK 23

Conclusion

 

Wednesday 30 Nov

A chance to ask final questions – and farewell Teaching Session and Goodbyes with Simon Ings and Anna Davis/a senior member of the CBC team.

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WEEK 24

END OF COURSE SUBMISSION

 

Monday 7 Dec

Students to submit 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 8 May, and we will respond to applicants by Thursday 12 May.

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