Finish a Novel: Advanced Writers Workshop

The course

Keep focused, sharpen your skills, and cross that finish line.

For every writer who has started a novel but got stuck midway, and anyone nearing a full draft who wants to refocus and refine.

This year-long series of advanced workshops combines the discipline of strict deadlines with a supportive group of fellow novelists and a nurturing tutor. Workshop your writing month by month, focusing on the key aspects of novel-writing we know writers need help with at this stage of the process. Story holes? Procrastination? Am I good enough? We’ve got it covered.

You’ll work in a small group of dedicated novelists with an expert tutor. Our tutors are published and prize-winning novelists, embedded in the industry, as well as experienced online teachers (a rare combination).

Alongside the practical assignments are monthly group Zooms, plus live sessions with guest authors and publishing experts. You can keep working through the monthly sessions until you are happy with your draft and have the technical and industry know-how to take your novel over the line.

Suitable for writers who have completed our Write a Novel 2: Get it Written course (or equivalent), and prepares you for the Edit Your Novel course.

Entry is by application, to ensure your manuscript is at the right stage for you to get the most out of the course. You must have written at least 10,000 words of your novel to start the course. If you are accepted onto the course, fees are paid as a monthly subscription of £160.

Kylie Fitzpatrick

Meet your course director

Kylie Fitzpatrick

Kylie Fitzpatrick is the author of four novels. She has Masters and Doctoral degrees in Creative Writing and was a tutor and lecturer on the world-leading Creative Writing Degree and MA courses at Bath Spa University. Kylie is a commissioning editor at Archetype Books and a literary consultant at Bloomsbury Publishing and Cornerstones.

How it works

We give you the theory in the form of videos, podcasts, written lectures and reading extracts. In the case of our live workshops, this includes a live online seminar.

You put it into practice by completing the writing assignments.

You share your work with the small group of fellow writers and the teaching team.

Your tutor and fellow learners read your work and give professional-style feedback on your submission. Giving feedback notes helps to build your skills as an editor - a critical part of the writing process.

You reflect on the exercises with the group and share what you’ve learned.

You use what you learned from the feedback and discussions to review your work and improve it.

Things to know

Finish Your Draft is an advanced level course, designed for people who have at least 10,000 words of a novel and want to get to the end, or have a first draft that needs the right environment to become a second.

The course is suitable if you:

  • Have completed our Write a Novel: Get it Written course or equivalent, or have written at least the first 10,000 words of your novel
  • Have an MA in writing and would like to complete the novel you started there
  • Feel stuck and don’t know if your story has what it takes
  • Have a full draft you’re not happy with and would like to rethink and rework
  • Are keen to further develop your writing techniques
  • Would like to broaden your knowledge of topics including research, the publishing industry and approaching agents
  • Would like to develop new effective writing habits and routines, and take yourself seriously as a novel writer
  • Enjoy the discipline of deadlines and peer feedback
  • Want to join a friendly and supportive small group of learners
  • Can dedicate 7-10 hours per week for the duration of the course

This course allows you to:

  • Get to grips with the novel-writing process
  • Gain greater understanding of professional expectations around genre, market and the publishing landscape (including self-publishing)
  • More clearly identify and pursue your potential as a novelist
  • Further experiment and explore boundaries
  • Write a synopsis you’re happy with and think about the submission process
  • Get a good way towards a full draft of your novel
  • Practise advanced fiction craft techniques and research skills
  • Further develop the professional skills novelists require (e.g. discipline, attention to detail, ability to work to deadlines)
  • Increase your professionalism in working with others
  • Practise giving effective feedback to other writers and receiving critical notes
  • Build greater independence, autonomy and critical judgement as you self-direct, self-manage and realise your project to the course briefs.

Session 1: Where I Am Now
A focus on summing up your novel idea and taking stock of your current practice as a novel writer. You’ll work on a new pitch and blurb to introduce your novel idea to the group, and set some intentions for the months ahead, thinking about what kind of writer you are. What’s stopped you from progressing your writing in the past? We’ll look at what to do when life gets in the way, how to keep your story alive even when you’re not writing, and the art of giving and receiving good critical feedback.

In each monthly session you’ll learn to read like a writer, analysing extracts from key authors to get under the bonnet of the novelist’s craft and sharpen your technique. You’ll also read and respond to the work of your peers in every session, following our critiquing guidelines, to further hone your judgment and editorial skills.

Session 2: My Fictional World
In this session, we’ll look in depth at place in your novel, and practical techniques to help you create more engrossing interiors and exteriors. In particular we’ll explore ways to work with sensory information, colour and movement. You’ll experiment with using description to affect the pacing of your scenes, use sensory devices to set up tension and suspense, and combine description with point of view to create more complex characters.

Session 3: Inhabiting Fictional Bodies
How to embody the physicality of your characters and connect them to their settings. We’ll try out observation exercises and ways of moving in and out of different bodies to observe your fictional world. There are ideas based on method acting to help you get under your characters’ skin and we’ll think about ways to allow space for the reader to do some work.

Session 4: Vocal Tune-up
In this session, take a deep dive into your voice and what makes you unique as a writer. We’ll look at ways to tend your sentences and word choice, and power your prose so that the reader only notices the effect not the language. There are practical tips on using sound, cadence, length and style on the page, plus how to be brave and become more proud of your work.

Session 5: Who is My Narrator?
This month we’ll think about psychic distance. How far are you from the action as narrator – and where is your reader? We’ll look at genre conventions and how far your reader expects to be invested emotionally in the events of your novel. There are practical exercises on shifting POVs, drawing readers closer to the action and pulling back to show the bigger picture. Have you set up a varied reading experience?

Session 6: Where Am I Going?
The essentials of narrative structure sound simple – beginning, middle, end – but once you get past the start of your novel it can feel like being lost in the woods. We’ll look at archetypal story structure and ways to plot a path towards a satisfying end. We’ll also explore the importance of change and reader empathy for the character at the heart of your work of fiction, with practical exercises to keep your story on track.

Session 7: Taking Stock
A month to step back and reassess your progress so far. We’ll audit your work at this point and look again at what to do when life gets in the way. Drawing on practical techniques from therapeutic and reflective writing, including free writing and journalling, we’ll find ways to explore your characters, themes and story world from a new perspective, and refresh a jaded writing palate.

Session 8: Shape & Theme – Explore divisions within your novel, from sections to chapters to scenes. Are they arranged in the best way for your story, your genre and your reader? Experiment with alternative approaches, and think about emerging themes and how you weave things together as a whole.

Session 9: Beginnings & Endings – Look at the start and end of each chapter, and use this as a focus for assessing the pace and build of your storytelling. Practical techniques for adding suspense and other ways to keep a reader on your side over the long haul of a novel.

Session 10: The End – This month we’ll think about the actual end of your novel, think about what needs to happen and how you’ll get your protagonist to that point. Also considering self-care for the novel writer, and how to maintain the energy to keep on keeping on to the end.

Session 11: Step Back to Edit
You may be nearing a full first draft, so this month we’ll focus on thinking like an editor, and what an editor’s eagle eye can teach you as a writer. Overview of the key stages of editing, and why you should stop work at sentence level this month. Practical exercises in architectural editing and assembling your own checklists and style guide.

Session 12: Getting Real
At the end of the year, a look out at the industry and options for next steps: publishing, self-publishing, hybrid models. Setting expectations and assessing what’s right for you at this stage in your writing career. Taking stock of all your achievements and setting intentions for the future.

At the end of the 12 months you’ll have everything you need, including expert feedback and one-to-one guidance, to move onto our Edit Your Novel course, to prepare your work for submission to agents, or for self-publishing.

Or you have the option to continue your monthly subscription and keep working through the course month by month and working with our tutors until you finish your draft.

Your tutor will give you feedback at set points during the course on your progressing novel and prose. This takes different forms at different stages of the course, including one-to-one Zoom tutorial, individual podcast, notes on your manuscript, written notes or group tutorials. These will be outlined by your moderator at the start of the course.

You will read and respond to at least two of your peers’ submissions every month, as directed by your tutor and following our critiquing guidelines. In turn you will receive peer feedback on your own work.

Join our alumni community 

After your course, you can join our online alumni community – a friendly group of writers supporting each other as they continue to explore and develop their writing. There’s no cost for this.

It’s easy to access via the online classroom, where you can:

  • Revisit all your courses materials, including tutor notes, feedback, videos, podcasts and forum posts
  • Rejoin your classmates, and continue working together in a private space
  • Meet alumni from other courses to find beta-readers and share work on our critiquing forum
  • Network with other writers working in your genre or area of interest
  • Take part in regular ‘sit and write’ Zoom sessions, to push forward with your work-in progress
  • Join our monthly live alumni events with our expert tutors and industry guests, including agents, editors, publishers, competition and festival organisers, and prizewinning writers

Taking things further
If you’d like to continue on to another Professional Writing Academy course, please get in touch for more details.

The team

Meet your course team

Kylie Fitzpatrick

Kylie Fitzpatrick

Novel Sculptor

Kylie Fitzpatrick is the author of four novels. She has Masters and Doctoral degrees in Creative Writing and was a tutor and lecturer on the world-leading Creative Writing Degree and MA courses at Bath Spa University. Kylie is a commissioning editor at Archetype Books and a literary consultant at Bloomsbury Publishing and Cornerstones.

More about Kylie Fitzpatrick

Andrew Wilson

Andrew Wilson

Crime Mastermind

Andrew Wilson is a novelist, biographer and journalist. His journalism has appeared in the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, Tatler, the Observer, the Sunday Times, the Daily Mail and the Washington Post. He is also a creative writing mentor on the Gold Dust scheme.

More about Andrew Wilson


Ayisha Malik

Novel Kickstarter

Ayisha Malik is the author of the critically acclaimed novels, Sofia Khan is Not Obliged, The Other Half of Happiness, and This Green and Pleasant Land. She was a WHSmith Fresh Talent Pick and Sofia Khan was a CityRead London choice in May 2019.

More about Ayisha Malik

Emily Barr

Emily Barr

Always Thrilling

Emily Barr is the author of eighteen published novels. Her first novel, Backpack, won the WHSmith New Talent award and she has since twice been nominated for the Carnegie Medal. Emily has taught creative writing for Arvon, Falmouth University, Curtis Brown Creative and The Writers’ Block, as well as for Faber Academy.

More about Emily Barr

Peter Benson

Peter Benson

Fiction Supremo

Peter Benson is an award-winning novelist, described as ‘one of the most distinctive voices in modern British fiction’ (Evening Standard). He has adapted three of his novels as screenplays for the BBC. Peter has taught creative writing at Arvon, the National Writing Centre of Wales, for Faber Academy and at universities in the UK and US.

More about Peter Benson