X

Writing Your Novel – Three Months

Our ever-popular original course is back in London. Get the best out of your novel with expert tuition and exclusive insights from publishing professionals.

COURSE DATES

Apr 19 2022 - Aug 02 2022

In London

Weekly sessions in person (with some teaching online)

Selective Entry

We offer places to the most talented applicants

Course Fee £1,990

Work on your novel with the experts

Overview

We are delighted that our popular three-month novel-writing course is back in London! Tutor Charlotte Mendelson 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). Charlotte Mendelson 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 a one-to-one tutorial with Charlotte during the course, teaching will also be supported by wealth of teaching notes and resources  on our bespoke online Learning platform.

You’ll take part in two special publishing industry masterclasses – one featuring a Curtis Brown or C&W agent and 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. 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.

‘Charlotte was insightful, professional, knowledgeable and engaging. I felt very comfortable with her straight away. She was able to show me where I might want to improve as well as highlighting my writing strengths in a way that I found motivating and encouraging. Whenever I have a bad writing day, I remember her positive words and it works every time.’

Karen Vivers, CBC alumna

Tutor

Charlotte Mendelson, Author

Charlotte has written four novels: Love in IdlenessDaughters of JerusalemWhen We Were Bad, and Almost English, all published by Picador. She has 20 years' experience as a fiction editor and publisher, and is a Visiting Professor at Royal Holloway, University of London, on the Creative Writing MA course. Her first work of non-fiction, Rhapsody in Green, was published by Kyle Books in September 2016.

Teaching in London Supported by Online Learning

We are so excited about the return of our London courses. We love the energy of our in-person courses, and so do our students. However, your safety is our first concern. We are carefully monitoring the ongoing Covid-19 situation, factoring in government guidance, and should it prove necessary we will move some or even all classes on this course to Zoom.

In-person classes will be held at comfortable, spacious venues in central London (TBD), and will be fully compliant with government rules on distancing and hygiene. We have a Covid protocol, the current version of which 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.

Teaching sessions and workshops will take place weekly on Tuesday evenings – and subject to the above we will hold them at a central London location. The synopsis week will be hosted on our online Learning platform. 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.

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 Charlotte’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 £1,800.

WHAT DOES THIS COURSE GIVE YOU?

Weekly Teaching Topics

Lively teaching sessions take place on Tuesday evenings

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

Writing Workshops

Led by your tutor

Across the course, you'll get two dedicated workshops centring on 3,000-word extracts from your novel-in-progress (one in London and one via Zoom). 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

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.

One-to-One Tutorial

Work closely with Charlotte on your novel

You'll get a 30-minute one-to-one tutorial 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.

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.

Two Industry Masterclasses

Insights and inspiration from published authors, agents and editors

You’ll receive two special guest speaker masterclasses – one with a literary agent and major author, and one with Publishing Director at Weidenfeld & Nicolson Federico Andornino and author Clare Chambers. 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.

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.

Guest Sessions

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

Federico Andornino

Federico Andornino is Publishing Director at Weidenfeld and Nicolson, the literary imprint of the Orion Publishing Group, where he acquires literary fiction with an edge, sharp and original suspense and crossover, LGBTQ+ literature, graphic novels and fiction in translation. Recent publications for W&N include Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason, a dazzling novel about modern love up against the confusing, sad aches of mental illness and an instant Sunday Times bestseller; Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers, a word-of-mouth hit with over 120,000 copies sold across formats, longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction; Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson, an exploration of class, queerness and race in America, longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction; The Weekend by Charlotte Wood, a stunning novel about friendship, anger and ageing, a book of the year for The Times, Observer, Independent, Daily Express and Good Housekeeping; Shooting Martha by David Thewlis, a darkly funny, Hitchcockian new novel by the award-winning actor and writer; and The Hummingbird by Sandro Veronesi, the ‘magnificent’ (Guardian) new novel by a master of European literature. Federico started his career at Two Roads, an imprint of John Murray Press. He is a graduate of UCL’s MA in Publishing and holds a degree in Dante Studies from the University of Siena, Italy. From 2008 to 2010 he was a fellow at Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, one of Europe’s oldest grandes écoles for university learning.

Federico Andornino


Publishing Director

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 £1,990 (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 Tuesday 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).

The exact dates and locations (in London or on Zoom) 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

Inspiration, Reading and Ideas

Tuesday 19 April, 7–9pm

Anna and Charlotte 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. Charlotte will lead a teaching session on inspiration and ideas, and set an introductory exercise.

see more

WEEK 2

Openings

Tuesday 26 April, 7–9pm

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

Workshops x3

see more

WEEK 3

Writing from Life

Tuesday 3 May, 7–9pm

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

Workshops x3

see more

WEEK 4

Story, Plotting & Planning

Tuesday 10 May, 7–9pm

Teaching session and workshop with Charlotte. We will give tips on how to plot and plan your story arc.

Workshops x3

 

 

see more

WEEK 5

Voice and Narrative Point of View

Tuesday 17 May, 7–9pm

Teaching session and workshop with Charlotte. This week we will give guidance on voice, tone, and different narrative points of view.

Workshops x3

see more

WEEK 6

Characterisation

Tuesday 24 May, 7–9pm

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

Workshops x3

see more

WEEK 7

Description, Tone & Style

Tuesday 31 May, 7–9pm

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

Workshops x3

see more

WEEK 8

Dialogue

Tuesday 7 June, 7–9pm

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

Workshops x3

see more

WEEK 9

Building Suspense

Tuesday 14 June, 7–9pm

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

Workshops x3

see more

WEEK 10

Endings

Tuesday 21 June, 7–9pm

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

Workshops x3

see more

WEEK 11

Synopsis (Online)

Tuesday 28 June – Tuesday 4 July

On the Learn platform (no Zoom or London session) with videos and notes from Anna Davis. Students will be required to post their synopses on the forum by 9am, Tues 4 July and feedback from one of our team of editors will follow before Tues 12 July.

see more

WEEK 12

Letters to Agents Session

Tuesday 5 July, 7–9pm

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

see more

WEEK 13

Editing and Rewriting

Tuesday 12 July, 7–9pm

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

Workshops x3

see more

WEEK 14

Course Conclusion

Tuesday 19 July, 7–9pm

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 15

End of Course Submission

Tuesday 2 August

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

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 20 March, and we will respond to applicants by Thursday 24 March.

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.