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

X

Writing Your Novel – Six Months

Our flagship six-month novel-writing course is back - in London, and on Zoom! Join us to work on your novel with inspiring teaching from a bestselling author and intensive time with literary agents and publishers.

COURSE DATES

Sep 08 2021 - Mar 14 2022

In London & on Zoom

Weekly sessions alternate between London and Zoom

Selective Entry

We offer places to the most talented applicants

Course Fee £3,190

Work on your novel with the experts

Overview

We are delighted to bring back our flagship six-month novel-writing course in London. Tutor Laura Barnett and the Curtis Brown Creative team are looking forward to meeting our students in person!

This is a course for those with a strong idea for a novel who wish to take their writing seriously (whether you’re in the early stages of writing or even reworking a complete draft). Much-loved tutor Laura Barnett will lead weekly writing workshops and deliver 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 workshops and teaching sessions, you will receive two one-to-one tutorials with Laura during the course, and you’ll also get access to a wealth of teaching videos, notes and resources from our CBC tutor team on our bespoke online learning platform.

You’ll take part in four special publishing industry speaker events – one featuring a Curtis Brown or C&W agent, two with an agent and an author, and one with an agent and a fiction editor (from a major publishing house) – during which our guests will share their experience and insights with you and answer your questions. You will also attend a pitch letter workshop with two literary agents, and receive a one-to-one 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. Plus you’ll get two special teaching sessions with a visiting author-tutor, mid-course (dates tbc).

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 130 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), Clare Pooley (The Authenticity Project) 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.

‘Laura was very engaging and considerate in her feedback and time. I felt like she was genuinely interested in helping me succeed and that she took pleasure in teaching the course… She did a wonderful job of replying to everyone’s comments and making us feel like a writing family who she supported and listened to.’

Zoe Rankin, CBC alumna

Tutor

Laura Barnett, Author

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. Her second novel, Greatest Hits was published in 2017, with an accompanying soundtrack album by the musician Kathryn Williams. She has taught creative writing for Guardian Masterclasses, delivered a TedX talk on originality in fiction, and worked as a writing mentor for the charity Arts Emergency. She is also a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University's Writing School.

Teaching in London and on Zoom

We are so excited about the return of our London courses, but they will, of necessity, be a little bit different this autumn. Our feedback tells us that many students would not currently want to come to central London as frequently as they might have done pre-Covid. So this is a hybrid course, with some classes held in London and others on Zoom.

Teaching sessions and workshops will take place weekly on Wednesday evenings, and will alternate between central London and Zoom. Your individual one-to-one tuition will also be delivered on Zoom (read to the end of this course description and schedule for full details).

Your safety is our first concern. In-person classes will be held at comfortable, spacious venues in central London, and will be fully compliant with government rules on distancing and hygiene. Should government guidance on Covid-19 mean that we have to cancel the in-person elements of the course, we will move the remaining sessions to Zoom.

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 Laura’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?

Weekly Teaching Topics

Lively teaching sessions take place on Wednesday evenings

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

Handwriting your novel

Weekly Writing Workshops

Led by your tutor

Across the course, you'll get three dedicated workshops centring on 3000-word extracts from your novel-in-progress (two in London and one via Zoom). These sessions offer in-depth written feedback and are also designed to help develop your self-editing skills.

Two One-to-One Tutorials

Work closely with Laura on your novel in progress

You'll get two 30-minute one-to-one tutorials with your tutor, conducted via Zoom or phone, based on a 3,000-word section from your novel-in-progress. Use this time to address specific concerns about your writing.

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 on Zoom/phone 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.

Visiting Speaker Sessions

Insights and inspiration from published authors, agents and editors

You’ll attend four special guest speaker sessions – one with a literary agent, two with an agent plus an author, and one with an agent and publishing professional. These sessions provide an opportunity for students to ask questions and hear more about the publishing industry and how to develop a career as a writer.

Teaching From a Visiting Author

Get another perspective in two sessions from our special guest tutor

We like to give our students the chance to get a different take on novel-writing across the course. Our guest tutor, acclaimed author Claire Fuller, will lead two evening teaching sessions in London or on Zoom (location tbc).

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.

Editing on a computer

Synopsis Advice

We'll show you how to nail that tricky 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.

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 additional thoughts on workshop extracts.

Jonny Geller, agent

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. 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). We find this process helps students develop their own inner editor and has a hugely positive impact on their 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

By popular request we have now launched 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 (you get to choose your supervisor from the available tutors), a five-day intensive zoom/online alumni summer school, editorial reports on your completed novel, submission reports on your ‘pitch package’ and coaching from experienced practitioners. 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, any students from our selective course 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.

Novel-writing student

Guest Sessions

This course offers in-depth engagement with literary agents at Curtis Brown and C&W, authors and a publisher. You’ll also get teaching videos from the author-tutors on our team:

Applications now closed

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. 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 discuss a payment 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.

Course Schedule

All teaching and workshop sessions take place on Wednesday evenings, either in a location in central London or via Zoom. Sessions in London run from 7pm to 9pm (or 7pm-8.30pm for guest speaker sessions), while sessions on Zoom run from 7pm to 8.45pm.

The exact dates of guest speaker sessions are to be confirmed. Classes may be moved from London to Zoom depending on circumstances, with prior notification to all concerned.

WEEK 1

Introduction + Inspiration and Ideas

Wednesday 8 September – London

Anna and Laura will welcome the group during the first half of the session, explain how the course works and share what students should do to get the most out of the three months. Laura will lead a teaching session on inspiration and ideas, and set an introductory exercise.

With videos and notes on the Learn platform from Anna Davis and Simon Ings.

see more

WEEK 2

Openings

Wednesday 15 September – London

Teaching session and workshop with Laura. Laura will talk about what makes a good novel opening.

With videos and notes on the Learn platform from Laura Barnett.

see more

WEEK 3

Openings continued

Monday 20 September (TBC) 

Zoom webinar with agent

Wednesday 22 September – Zoom

Teaching session and workshop with Laura. Laura will share examples of strong openings and encourage the class to think about various options.

 

see more

WEEK 4

Writing from Life

Wednesday 29 September – London

Teaching session and workshop with Laura. This week Laura will discuss how best to draw inspiration from real life experiences and knowledge.

With videos and notes on the Learn platform from Nikita Lalwani.

 

see more

WEEK 5

Story, PLOTTING & PLANNING

Monday 4 October (TBC) 

Zoom webinar with agent + agent

Wednesday 6 October – London

Teaching session and workshop with Laura. Laura will give tips on how to plot and plan your narrative arc.

With videos and notes on the Learn platform from Andrew Michael Hurley.

see more

WEEK 6

Story, PLOTTING & PLANNING continued

Wednesday 13 October – Zoom

Teaching session and workshop with Laura. Laura will look at the building blocks of narrative, including the difference between story and plot.

 

 

see more

WEEK 7

Narrative Point of View

Wednesday 20 October – London

Teaching session and workshop with Laura. This week Laura will give guidance on different narrative points of view.

With videos and notes on the Learn platform from Nikita Lalwani.

 

 

see more

WEEK 8

Half term

Break week for half term – no session on Wednesday 27 October

see more

WEEK 9

Place and setting

Wednesday 3 November – London

Teaching session and workshop with Laura. This week Laura will give discuss the importance of place, and how to bring the world of your novel to life on the page.

With videos and notes on the Learn platform from Andrew Michael Hurley.

see more

WEEK 10

Synopsis

Wednesday 10 November – Tuesday 16 November – Online

With videos and notes on the Learn platform from Anna Davis. Students will receive written feedback on their synopses from an expert CBC editor.

see more

WEEK 11

Guest Tutor Mini Course

Wednesday 17 November 

Guest tutor session 1

see more

WEEK 12

Guest Tutor Mini Course

Wednesday 24 November

Guest tutor session 2

see more

WEEK 13

Characterisation

Wednesday 1 December – London

Teaching session and workshop with Laura. Learn how to create vivid, convincing characters that live and breathe off the page.

With videos and notes on the Learn platform from Suzannah Dunn.

see more

WEEK 14

The protagonist

Wednesday 8 December – Zoom

Teaching session and workshop with Laura. Focus on your protagonist and the importance of motivation, opposition and conflict in propelling your story.

see more

WEEK 15

Description, Tone and Style

Wednesday 15 December – London

Teaching session and workshop with Laura. Explore elements of style and  take a look at descriptions that really work to draw readers into the story.

With videos and notes on the Learn platform from Laura Barnett.

see more

WEEK 16

Winter Break

see more

WEEK 17

Dialogue

Wednesday 5 January

Teaching session and workshop with Laura. Develop an ear for good dialogue and learn how to write effective, authentic speech in fiction.

With videos and notes on the Learn platform from Suzannah Dunn.

see more

WEEK 18

Visiting speaker session

Wednesday 12 January (TBC) 

Special guest session with an agent and author.

see more

WEEK 19

Building Suspense

Wednesday 19 January – Zoom

Teaching session and workshop with Laura. Keep your readers on the edge of their seats by mastering the art of suspense.

With videos and notes on the Learn platform from Christopher Wakling.

see more

WEEK 20

Endings

Wednesday 26 January – London

Teaching session and workshop with Laura. Finding the right ending to do justice to your story can be tricky – Laura will help lead the way.

With videos and notes on the Learn platform from Christopher Wakling.

see more

WEEK 21

Endings continued

Wednesday 2 February – Zoom

Teaching session and workshop with Laura. Examine strong endings in fiction and discuss why they work.

see more

WEEK 22

Visiting speaker session

Wednesday 9 February (TBC) 

Special guest session with an agent and publisher.

see more

WEEK 23

Editing and Rewriting

Wednesday 16 February – London 

Teaching session and workshop with Laura. Laura will talk you through techniques and tips for redrafting and editing your manuscript.

With videos and notes on the Learn platform from Simon Ings.

see more

WEEK 24

LETTERS TO AGENTS SESSION

Wednesday 23 February – London

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

see more

WEEK 25

Course conclusion

Wednesday 2 March – London

A chance for the group and tutor to share the discoveries you’ve made on this course and to ask final questions.

see more

WEEK 26

END OF COURSE SUBMISSION

Wednesday 14 March 

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

see more

Application Process

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 15 August, and we will respond to applicants by Thursday 19 August.

Not quite ready?

Enter your email to receive updates and reminders about this course. We will also subscribe you to our weekly newsletter for writing tips, agent advice and news about our latest events and courses.