Writing Your Novel – Six Months

Get the best out of your novel with expert tuition and advice from publishing professionals on our flagship writing course in London.


07 Sept 2022 - 02 Mar 2023

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


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 Ali Shaw and the second by Laura Barnett. 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.

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 160 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.


Ali Shaw, Author

Ali Shaw is an award-winning novelist, short story writer and creative writing teacher. His novels are The Trees, The Man who Rained, and The Girl with Glass Feet, which won the Desmond Elliott Prize, was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. His books have been translated into fifteen different languages, and his short fiction has appeared in multiple newspapers, magazines, and on BBC Radio 4.

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. Her third novel, Gifts was published in 2021. She delivered a TedX talk on originality in fiction, and worked as a writing mentor for the charity Arts Emergency. She is a 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.

Teaching in London

We love the energy of our in-person courses, and so do our students. However, we are carefully monitoring the ongoing Covid-19 situation, and will move classes to Zoom on a case-by-case basis if it should prove necessary in the interests of the health and safety of our students and staff.

In-person classes will be held at comfortable, spacious venues in central London (currently at Asia House) on Wednesdays, and will be fully compliant with any applicable government rules on distancing and hygiene. The current version of our Covid Protocol 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.

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.

One-to-one tutorials may be held in-person or on Zoom.

The Zoom video conferencing platform enables you to connect with your class and tutor live as if you were all in the same room. 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.


Teaching on the Novel

Lively teaching sessions take place on Wednesday evenings

Ali and Laura 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 Ali and the other with Laura. 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 Sessions

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. Two acclaimed authors (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 – 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.

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.


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.


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.

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 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.




Weds 7 Sept, 7–9pm

Group welcome and teaching Session with a senior member of the CBC team and Ali Shaw.


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Weds 14 Sept, 7–9pm

Workshops x 3 + teaching session with Ali Shaw.


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Weds 21 Sept, 7–9pm

Workshops x 3 + teaching session with Ali Shaw.

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Monday 26 Sept, 7pm

Guest speaker masterclass.


Weds 28 Sept, 7–9pm

Workshops x 3 + teaching session with Ali Shaw.


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Weds 5 Oct, 7–9pm

Workshops x 3 + teaching session with Ali Shaw.

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Weds 12 Oct, 7–9pm

Workshops x 3 + teaching session with Ali Shaw.

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Monday 17 Oct, 7pm

Guest speaker masterclass.


Weds 19 Oct, 7–9pm

Workshops x 3 + teaching session with Ali Shaw.

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No teaching session Weds 26 Oct.

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Weds 2 Nov, 7–9pm

Workshops x 3 + teaching session with Ali Shaw.

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Synopsis Online


Monday 7 Nov – Sunday 13 Nov

On the Learn platform.

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.


Weds 9 Nov, 7pm

Guest speaker masterclass.

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Guest Tutor Session


Weds 16 Nov, 7–9pm 

With a special guest tutor Diana Evans.

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Guest Tutor Session


Weds 23 Nov, 7–9pm

With a special guest tutor to be confirmed.

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Weds 30 Nov, 7–9pm

Workshops x 3 + teaching session with Laura Barnett.

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Weds 7 Dec, 7–9pm

Workshops x 3 + teaching session with Laura Barnett.

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Weds 14 Dec, 7–9pm

Workshops x 3 + teaching session with Laura Barnett.

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No teaching until the New Year.

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Weds 4 Jan, 7–9pm

Workshops x 3 + teaching session with Laura Barnett.

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Weds 11 Jan, 7–9pm

Workshops x 3 + teaching session with Laura Barnett.

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Weds 18 Jan, 7–9pm

Workshops x 3 + teaching session with Laura Barnett.

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Guest Speaker Masterclass


Weds 25 Jan, 7–8.30pm

Guest speaker masterclass.

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Weds 1 Feb, 7–9pm

Workshops x 3 + teaching session with Laura Barnett.

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Editing & Rewriting


Weds 8 Feb, 7–9pm

Workshops x 3 + teaching session with Laura Barnett.

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Agent Letter & Pitch Workshop


Weds 15 Feb, 7–8.30pm

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

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Weds 22 Feb, 7–8.30pm

A chance to ask final questions – and farewell Teaching Session and Goodbyes with Laura Barnett and a senior member of the CBC team.

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Monday 2 Mar

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 Sun 30 Jul, and we will respond to applicants by Thurs 3 Aug.

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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