28 April 2016

Starting to write my novel: my experience of CBC’s new writing course

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by Eli Keren Opinion, Our Courses

For the past few months, we at Curtis Brown Creative have been secretly and feverishly working on our new £200 course: Starting to Write Your Novel. Since we’ve now gone loud and proud with this newest of our online writing courses, you’ll no doubt already know it’s designed to kickstart a nascent book from a foetal idea into a triumphant toddler of a novel. And at the end of the six-week course, students will have the opening 3,000 words of a novel, plus a plan and the enthusiasm to produce a completed manuscript. But I’m writing this blog piece to delve into the gears of the machine, because in my role as CBC intern I’ve not only helped to prepare the course for its launch, but I’m also a not-so-secret participant.

Anna Davis and Rufus Purdy have been working on Starting to Write Your Novel for a long time, but the course preparations kicked up a gear when we were given access to our shiny new online learning platform. We then spent weeks building the course, tweaking, drafting, re-drafting, deleting, and re-re-drafting until we were ready to unleash the first test students upon it. We invited back a few of our former students, all of whom were at different stages of their writing processes, to test the course for us and make sure everything was running smoothly. That’s where I came in.

By luck or by design, on the weekend before we were planning to launch the test course, I had an idea for a novel. For context (and because there are few things I like writing about more), let you tell me a bit about myself. Before joining the CBC team I studied a masters degree in creative writing, and my plays have been performed in theatres across London, Oxford, Cambridge and Leeds, but I’m yet to produce a novel I’m happy enough with to start submitting to agents. I’d hit a bit of a rut. The piece I’d been working on just wasn’t working anymore, and I was considering moving on to a different idea. I just wasn’t sure what. But my muse must sync her Google calendar with CBC’s, because two days before the test Starting to Write Your Novel course was to due go live, into my head pinged the smallest, brightest idea for a story. Embryonic and directionless, it was there nonetheless, so I floated the idea of posing as a student and introducing it to the course.

This course is an entry-level course but not one limited to entry-level writers. It is different than many creative writing courses in that it is targeted at a certain point in the writing process – the beginning. This means that if you’re a new writer embarking on your first novel, this course is for you. If you’re an experienced writer trying to get a new piece of work off the ground, this course is still for you.

For me, there’s a lot about my idea for a novel I’m still trying to work out. I haven’t decided on a narrative style, I don’t have a full cast of characters and I’ve only really got maybe a third of the plot. That’s why I’m so excited about Starting to Write Your Novel. After spending the last few months continuously trying and failing to convince myself that my dead-end novel was not, in fact, a dead-end, allowing myself to return to these first steps is refreshing and exhilarating. I can’t wait to spend the next six weeks kneading and shaping something new, and I’m going to take you along with me for the ride. Follow the blog and @cbcreative for updates.

As well as expert teaching from published authors, all our three- and six-month novel-writing courses offer dedicated modules on submitting your novel to literary agents – and include sessions on writing a synopsis and preparing a covering letter. Click for more information or to apply for our creative writing courses.

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Our Courses

Lisa O'Donnell, Author and CBC Tutor

Six-month Online Novel-Writing Course with Lisa O’Donnell

18 Feb – 22 Jul
Laura Barnett

Six-month London Course With Laura Barnett

18 Feb – 11 Jul
Catherine Johnson

Writing YA and Children’s Fiction With Catherine Johnson

01 Apr – 01 Jul

Starting to Write Your Novel

16 Jan – 27 Feb