29 June 2017

How to write a novel: tips from Jonny Geller

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by Jack Hadley From the Agents, Writing Tips

Top literary agent and joint CEO of Curtis Brown Jonny Geller recently posted up a Twitter ‘thread’ with some tips on how to write a novel for new writers. We’re sharing them on the blog for your leisure.

Jonny’s post certainly created a stir on social media, with lots of budding novelists and students on our creative writing courses joining in to debate the merits of each point. Whether you agree with all of them or not, they might help you to think about your own writing a little differently.

1/6: Don’t let us feel we are beginning a story with you. Start as though you’re in the middle, finish the novel as though it’s a new beginning.

2/6: Plot is key, but not at the expense of character. We’ll go anywhere with a full character but question every move with a thin one.

3/6: How a story makes you feel is as important as how it makes you think.

4/6: Love writing your book, but don’t expect to love reading it.

5/6: We read to learn, experience and feel something new Comfortable is anathema to a writer, and readers can sense complacency instantly.

6/6: Take your characters to the limit. It’s easier to withdraw from the cliff’s edge than keep pushing up a hill.

For an in-depth course as part of a group of 15 (in which students are selected on the basis of their submission) with a great tutor and participation from our literary agents, apply for:

Six-Month Novel-Writing Course in London with Christopher Wakling (deadline for applications is Sunday 21 January).

Six-Month Online Novel-Writing Course with Lisa O’Donnell (deadline for applications is Sunday 28 January).

For a dedicated online course for those writing for young adults or children as part of a group of 15 (in which students are selected on the basis of their submission), with a top children’s author, apply for: 

Writing YA and Children’s Fiction with Catherine Johnson (deadline for applications is Sunday 4 February).

We are also offering three low-cost ‘foundation’ online courses, featuring tuition from CBC director Anna Davis:

Starting to Write Your Novel (deadline for enrolment is midnight on Mon 15 January).

Write to the End of Your Novel (deadline for enrolment is midnight on Mon 22 January).

Edit & Pitch Your Novel (deadline for enrolment is midnight on Mon 29 January).


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Our Courses

Nikita Lalwani, author

Three-Month Novel-Writing Course With Nikita Lalwani

12 Nov – 11 Mar
Charlotte Mendelson, author and CBC tutor

Three-Month Novel-Writing Course With Charlotte Mendelson

14 Nov – 28 Feb
Catherine Johnson

Writing YA and Children’s Fiction With Catherine Johnson

01 Apr – 01 Jul

Starting to Write Your Novel

17 Jan – 28 Feb