Each monthly session explores a different topic and includes reading and writing exercises designed to help you broaden your knowledge and hone your skills. You’ll write 5-7,500 new or revised words a month, which you’ll share with your group and discuss during a monthly webinar with your tutor, together with reading each other’s novels in progress and giving – and receiving – detailed and constructive written feedback.
You’ll receive at least three detailed tutor reports on your work in progress over the year, plus three one-to-one Zoom tutorials with your tutor. You’ll also have a monthly book club, with novels chosen by your tutor to match each session’s topic. The novels cover many genres and are designed to show you how different novelists approach their writing and help you to read, analyse and discuss them from the perspective of a writer.
The course has been designed to follow a set monthly program, with deadlines to keep you focused and spur you on. A typical session includes:
- Day 1: Session opens Your tutor introduces the month’s topic and the recommended reading and writing exercises, including the novel you’ll read for your book club.
- Days 2–20: Writing your novel You’ll be hard at work on your novel, but will keep in touch with your group on the online forums and chatroom.
- Day 21: Deadline You’ll share the latest 5–7,500 words of your novel with your group, by posting it to the online forum.
- Days 21–26: Giving and receiving feedback You’ll read and critique your fellow writers’ latest work and receive constructive feedback on your novel in progress in return.
- Days 23–26: Individual tutor discussions Each month, your tutor will read and give feedback on at least three people’s work. You’ll also each get three one-to-one Zoom tutorials over the duration of the course.
- Day 27: Group discussion guided by your tutor Your group will join your tutor for a webinar discussion where they’ll sum up what you’ve covered in the session, answer your questions and introduce the next month’s topic.
Session 1: Share Your Story – You’ll meet the writers in your group and get to know each other’s stories so far. You’ll also look at the art of giving good critical feedback and will have your first one-to-one Zoom call with your tutor.
Session 2: Get Better at Place – You’ll explore the four secrets to sharpening up description in your novel: making it more specific, using the senses, and adding colour and movement.
Session 3: Get Better at Body Language – A look at the importance of non-verbal communication in your novel, and how to write better body language so that your characters do more than raise their eyebrows, nod and smile.
Session 4: Tune Up Your Voice – What are the effects of language and rhythm on the writing in your novel? You’ll look at vocabulary, sentence and paragraph structure, and how this can be used for effect and to help you change pace.
Session 5: Get Better at Texture – We’ll look at the contrast between dialogue and description, and how they can be used to slow down or speed things up. You’ll have your second one-to-one Zoom call with your tutor, to take stock of your progress so far.
Session 6: Find Your Midpoint – You’ve got a great beginning for your novel, and you’ve got a great end. But how do you avoid the middle of your book sagging, like a badly made cake? We’ll focus on that in this session.
Session 7: Shape Your Chapters – What is the ideal length of a chapter? What is the effect of making chapters shorter or longer? What are the benefits of dividing the material up into wider sections?
Session 8: Keep Readers Turning the Page – How do you grab a reader at the start of the chapter? Should you leave things on a cliffhanger at the end, or will you work with suspense in more subtle ways?
Session 9: Finding a Satisfying Resolution – What’s the best way to conclude a story? How much resolution satisfies the reader?
Session 10: Move Beyond Your Manuscript – Once you’ve got your final manuscript, what next? We’ll take a look at the experiences of various writers as they made the jump from writing their novel to getting published, and take advice from an agent, publisher and self-published author. This session will also include a final one-to-one Zoom chat with your tutor.