29 November 2017

Starting to Write Your Novel: a student’s view

writing my novel
by Carlie Lee Guest Blog

There’s no better way for us to give a sense of what our six-week online Starting to Write Your Novel course is like, and whether it might be right for you, than by bringing in the voices of ex-students, so here Carlie Lee (above) tells us how this budget version of our online writing courses, available to all-comers, gave her the structure and focus to make some real headway with her novel.

I’ve just finished the six-week course, and it has really, really helped my writing.

I’ve been writing in the same genre for ten years, and, despite several near-misses, I haven’t sold any of my books. The agent I was working with suggested I try a writing course, and recommended Curtis Brown Creative as one of the best providers. I couldn’t afford to do the six-month course, but the six-week online course for £200 was (just!) affordable.

Starting To Write Your Novel works best if you’re in the early stages of your book. I began the course with a vague idea for a new book, in a new genre. I’m very glad I didn’t try to work with any of my finished books.

The course is broken into six segments, and each week the class looks at a different aspect of craft. The week that really made a difference to me was Week 3 – ‘Plotting, Planning and Story’. I already knew that I struggled with structuring stories, but as I was watching the video tutorial and planning the assignments, something finally clicked in my brain. For the first time, I understood how I needed to write my story.

The other weeks are just as helpful, covering characterisation, voice and – crucially – how to write your first page. Writing an effective first page is far more technical and involved than I’d ever realised – it was fascinating to dissect other writers’ first pages, and really see how they compelled their reader to read on.

Every Wednesday morning felt like a brilliantly special treat: you get the week’s assignment by clicking on a box that up until then, has been shut. I’d open it and spend the rest of the day fizzing with ideas and plans and excitement.

After years of writing alone, it was so lovely to have other people with whom to discuss writing. Our group wrote in all different genres, and were at all different stages of learning to write. We came from all over the world, with quite a few of us writing with English as a second language – it all helped to give the class a really broad perspective.

Thanks to the Curtis Brown Creative course, I now have a new novel that has been properly plotted and structured, and 20,000 words of the first draft. My writing is cleaner and sharper. I feel my confidence is returning, and I’ve discovered a renewed sense of determination and focus: this is the book that will work. This is the book that will sell.

And thanks to the team at Curtis Brown Creative – this is the course which helped me write it.

For more information on all of our writing courses visit our courses page.

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Our Courses

Nikita Lalwani, author
online

Three-Month Novel-Writing Course With Nikita Lalwani

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

Three-Month Novel-Writing Course With Charlotte Mendelson

14 Nov – 28 Feb
Catherine Johnson
online

Writing YA and Children’s Fiction With Catherine Johnson

01 Apr – 01 Jul
STWYN
online

Starting to Write Your Novel

17 Jan – 28 Feb
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