Writing Your Novel – Six Months

Our biggest online course with expert tuition from two authors plus agents and publishing professionals. Includes a one-month summer break to help you focus on your writing. Scholarship available.


30 May 2022 - 28 Nov 2022


Take this course from anywhere in the world

Selective Entry

We offer places to the most talented applicants

Course Fee £2,800

Work on your novel with the experts


This online novel-writing course is designed to be every bit as useful and fulfilling as the courses we run in our offices, with contributions from agents here at Curtis Brown and C&W. This is a course for people who are serious about writing a novel. As well as being packed with useful content, it’s flexible so you can write and study at times to suit you.

We’re excited to be offering two brilliant 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 author Laura Barnett and the second half of the course will be taught by Cathi Unsworth.

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 from Laura before joining us again in September, feeling refreshed and ready for more workshops, tutorials and teaching from Cathi.

Your tutors will each lead weekly online writing workshops, set weekly writing exercises and provide one-to-one tutorials where they will give direct feedback to all students on their novels-in-progress. The teaching and workshops take place on our private online forum, while one-to-one tutorials are conducted via Zoom/phone. In addition, you’ll have access to a wealth of teaching videos, notes and resources from our CBC tutor team (listed below), all made available on our online learning platform.

The Curtis Brown and C&W literary agents, and a guest author and a guest publisher will offer writing and pitching advice in special events across the course including exclusive Zoom masterclasses. At the end of the course, students get to share the opening of their novels informally with the agent team.

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.

‘Laura gave a full spectrum of useful feedback from close line reading to structural suggestions… It was a pleasure talking about my writing with her; her honesty and openness about her own work was empowering.’

Stephen Powell, former student

‘Cathi is an incredibly warm and supportive tutor. Her lessons were immensely useful and her feedback considered and helpful. She is by a long shot the best tutor I’ve had on a course.’

Sarah Lawton, former student and author of All the Little Things


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.

Cathi Unsworth, Author

Cathi Unsworth is the author of four crime novels, most recently That Old Black Magic; plus two further (non-genre) novels, all published by Serpent’s Tail. She has published numerous short stories and edited the short story collection London Noir. Cathi is a journalist and editor, has taught for the Arvon Foundation, and regularly delivers feedback to students on CBC's six-week writing courses.


Teaching Videos & Tasks

Tips on a range of topics from our tutor team

Your tutors will set weekly tasks for the group - writing exercises or topics to prepare for discussion. Across 14 teaching modules, videos and notes will be made available on our platform, covering a range of topics such as plotting, characterisation, point-of-view and rewriting. 

Writing Workshops

Led by your tutors

You'll get three dedicated workshops centring on material from your novel-in-progress with your tutor and the group (Extracts of 3,000 words, each time). These sessions offer in-depth written feedback and are also designed to help develop your self-editing skills.

Curtis Brown Creative learning platform forum

Student Forum

The hub of our online courses – find your writing community

We have developed a bespoke learning platform exclusively for our students. Here you can give and receive feedback, and discuss the week’s topics with your fellow students and tutor.

One-to-One Tutorials

Extracts of your novel will be closely reviewed by your tutors

You'll get one 45 minute, one-to-one tutorial with Laura Barnett – and one with Cathi Unsworth– over the phone or via Zoom, based on 3,000 word sections of your novel-in-progress. Use these tutorials to address your specific concerns about your writing.

Summer Break

This course is split into two terms to help you get your novel the best it can be

This course will take a four-week break in August, to give you extra time to work on your novels-in-progress and to reflect on everything you've learnt before joining us again in September, feeling refreshed and ready for more workshops, tutorials and teaching.

Pitch Workshop

Agent feedback on your letter & elevator pitch

We'll give you the vital do's and don'ts of agent pitch letters and elevator pitches - you'll then write your own and get in-depth written feedback on both the letter and the short pitch from a Curtis Brown/C&W literary agent.

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.

Tutorial with 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 Curtis Brown/ C&W literary agent. They will read a 6,000-word extract from your novel-in-progress plus your synopsis. They will provide detailed feedback and publishing industry advice.

Three Industry Masterclasses

Join exclusive live video chats with top literary agents, publishers and authors

Students will take part in three special 60 minute Zoom masterclasses. Guest speakers include top Curtis Brown literary agent Gordon Wise, plus an author and a publisher still to be announced. These industry experts will talks about writing, books and the publication journey. There will also be an opportunities to ask questions.

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 of their novel, plus a synopsis, to be shared with the agent teams at CB and C&W teams. 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 written comments in our online discussion space. We find this process helps students develop their own inner editor and has a hugely positive impact on their own 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. 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 Sessions

This course offers direct interaction with literary agents at Curtis Brown and C&W, published authors and an editor from a major publishing house. You’ll also get teaching videos from your tutors and from the other author-tutors on our team:

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 £2,800 (inc VAT) per student is payable by bank transfer before the course begins. If you can’t pay the full fee in one go, let us know and we will 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.


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

Module 1

Inspiration and Reading as Writers

Monday 30 May – Sunday 5 June

With videos from Anna Davis and Simon Ings

Greeting from Laura Barnett

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Module 2


Monday 6 June – Sunday 12 June

With videos from Laura Barnett

Workshops led by Laura Barnett

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Module 3

Writing from Life

Monday 13 June – Sunday 26 June

With videos from Nikita Lalwani

Workshops led by Laura Barnett

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Module 4

Story, Plotting & Planning

Monday 27 June – Sunday 10 July

With videos from Andrew Michael Hurley

Workshops led by Laura Barnett

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Module 5

Voice & Narrative Point of View

Mon 11 July – Sun 17 July

With videos from Nikita Lalwani

Workshops led by Laura Barnett

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Module 6

Place & Setting

Monday 18 July – Sunday 24 July

With videos from Andrew Michael Hurley

Workshops led by Laura Barnett

Farewell from Laura

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Module 7

The Synopsis

Monday 25 July – Sunday 31 July

With videos and notes from Anna Davis and synopsis feedback from an expert CBC editor.


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Module 8

Summer Break

Monday 1 August – Sunday 4 September

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Module 9


Mon 5 September – Sun 18 September

With videos from Suzannah Dunn

Greeting from Cathi Unsworth and Workshops


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Module 10


Monday 5 September – Sunday 18 September

With videos from Suzannah Dunn

Workshops led by Cathi Unsworth

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Module 11

Description, Tone & Style

Monday 19 September – Sunday 25 September

With videos from Laura Barnett

Workshops led by Cathi Unsworth

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Module 12


Monday 26 Sept – Sunday 2 October

With videos from Suzannah Dunn

Workshops led by Cathi Unsworth

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Module 13

Building Suspense

Monday 3 October – Sunday 9 October

With videos from Christopher Wakling

Workshops led by Cathi Unsworth

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Module 14


Monday 10 October – Sunday 16 October

With videos from Christopher Wakling

Workshops led by Cathi Unsworth

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Module 15

Editing & Rewriting

Monday 24 October – Sunday 30 October

With videos from Simon Ings

Workshops led by Cathi Unsworth

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Module 16

Agent Letter & Pitch Workshop

Monday 31 Oct – Sunday 6 November

With videos and individual feedback from the agents at Curtis Brown and C&W.

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Module 17

Final Questions

Monday 7 November – Sunday 13 November

A chance to ask final questions – and farewell from Cathi.

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Module 18

End of Course Submission

Monday 28 November

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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Applications now closed

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 Monday 2 May, and we will respond to applicants by Thursday 5 May.

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