Write a Novel: Get it Written

The course

Stop putting it off and push your novel forward.

Over 12 years, this flagship online course has launched the careers of hundreds of novelists.

Our deep-dive eight month experience takes you from initial ideas to a stress-tested concept, the first 10,000 words of your novel, and a plan to get to the end. Along the way you’ll explore the options that work for this novel and your voice, and master the key techniques novelists need. You’ll push your writing to new levels in a small group of likeminded writers guided by an expert tutor. All our tutors are published novelists embedded in the industry, as well as experienced online teachers (a rare combination).

There are group Zooms, plus live sessions with guest authors and industry experts. You will emerge with at least 10,000 words of your novel, plus the craft skills, critical judgement and professional routines every serious novelist needs.

Suitable for writers who have taken our Jumpstart Your Novel course, and prepares you for the Finish a Novel: Advanced Writers Workshop.

Entry via application, to ensure you get the most out of the course.

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

Write a Novel: Get it Written is an advanced level course, designed for people with some experience in writing fiction who are ready to begin the serious work of writing a novel.

The course is suitable if you:

  • Have completed our Jumpstart Your Novel course or equivalent
  • Write fiction and would like to broaden your palette of techniques and get stuck into a long-form project
  • Are stuck with a novel
  • 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:

  • Become well versed in the novel-writing process
  • Gain an understanding of professional expectations around genre, market and the publishing landscape (including self-publishing)
  • Expand your potential as a novelist
  • Experiment and explore boundaries
  • Pin down an effective synopsis and at least 10,000 words of your novel
  • Sharpen your fiction craft skills, including in character development, point of view, tense, story, structure and sustained narrative pace
  • Explore effective research methods for novel-writing
  • Hone your selection, development and realisation of imaginative and effective ideas
  • Further develop the professional skills novelists require (e.g. discipline, attention to detail, ability to work to deadlines)
  • 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.

Each course is divided into sessions. These sessions are released one by one (weekly or fortnightly, depending on the course). 

There’s no need to log on at a set time. You can work through the learning materials whenever suits you, day or night, wherever you are in the world. Just complete the assignments and join forum discussions by the session deadline. 

Our teaching method is based on the science of active learning: you read/listen/watch, try out, share and reflect. It’s a social experience – you become part of a small group, feeding back on each other’s writing to build a supportive bunch of readers you trust. Find out more here.

Session 1: Welcome
Meet your fellow novelists and introduce the novel idea you’ll be working on to the group and tutor for workshopping. Then look inside yourself to examine your practice as a writer, and your motives for writing this novel at this point in time. You’ll make a plan to move your idea forward. For those starting the course without a set idea, we’ll do some practical ideas generation. You’ll also have your first live group webchat with your tutor.

In each fortnightly 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 hone your judgment and editorial skills.

Session 2: Opening Pages
Stress-test your novel premise and ideas using our practical techniques and tips, and share your opening pages. We’ll think about genre and reader expectations, and setting up your fictional world. Draft an outline synopsis.

Session 3: Protagonists & Cast
Whose story is this, what do they want, and how well do you know them? We’ll get to know each other’s main characters and let them tell us about their journey. Who’s supporting your lead role, and why are they there? Making a first appearance. You’ll have a live group Q&A with a guest author.

Session 4: Who’s Telling This Story?
Point of view options – and point of view options that are right for you as a writer and this story. Practical exercises to help you explore and pinpoint. Do you need more than one POV, and the pros and cons of maintaining multiple viewpoints. Your tutor will give feedback on your first 2,000 words.

Session 5: Author Voice
Finding an authentic voice you can sustain for the long-haul of a novel. Experiment with different styles using our practical exercises, and find authors whose work speaks to you. Explore word choice, sentence style, and other craft skills.

Session 6: Story & Structure
Learn the essential elements every story needs, and how to order them to make the most of this story. Story blueprints that stand the test of time, and how to master the rules before breaking them. Make a story map for your novel. You’ll have a live group webchat with your tutor.

Session 7: Fact to Fiction
How to use research (desk, archive and your own experience) as a leaping off point for your fiction. Using sensory techniques to bring fictional settings to life, and learning from the art of the historical fiction writer. When to stop researching and start writing – and effective ways to stop procrastinating.

Session 8: Progression & Pace
Writing moments in time, and thinking like a screenwriter to stitch together key scenes that move your story on. Effective scene writing, and techniques to slow down time for effect and speed up the pace. Your tutor will give you feedback on 5,000 words as a manuscript mark-up, with a 30-minute tutorial to discuss.

Session 9: Using Description
Play with techniques that help you zoom in up-close and pull back, and look at the effect on your reader. The art of layering description and using detail to capture readers in your fictional world and author voice.

Session 10: Character Voice
Do your characters have distinct voices? How to draw differences on the page based on character sketches. Conversation observation tasks, and effective ways to work with idiom and dialect. Dialogue dos and don’ts that mark you out as a serious writer. You’ll have a live group webchat with your tutor.

Session 11: World Building
Using setting as character and for atmosphere. How to capture sensory detail on the page, and feelings associated with a setting, real or imagined, to build the reader’s sense of being there, immersed in your world.

Session 12: Shaping & Revising
Why all novel writing is rewriting, and practical skills to help you see the shape of a longer piece of work, and bring together the various strands. Thinking about themes. The art of cutting and how to be brave. Revisit your story map.

Session 13: Industry Context
Thinking about your work in the ‘real’ world, and an overview of the publishing industry and the writer’s role. Agents, traditional publishing and newer models. Myth busting. The importance of keeping aware of the industry while staying true to your unique vision. Rework your synopsis. You’ll have a live group Q&A with an agent.

Session 14: Quiet Writing Time
This is a four-week session focused on private writing time as you prepare to submit the first 10,000 words of your novel and synopsis for tutor review. The forums are open for discussion and peer support and critiquing.

You can write as much of your novel as you would like during the course. But at the end of the course we invite you to submit (up to) the first 10,000 words of your novel (from the start, not selected excerpts) for tutor feedback.

On finishing the course you’ll have everything you need, (synopsis, polished 10,000 words based on expert feedback and one-to-one guidance), to move onto the Finish a Draft: Advanced Skills course or Edit Your Novel course.

Feedback on the course
Your tutor will not give you written feedback on your novel in every session. The tutor will give feedback at set points during the course on your progressing novel idea, synopsis 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 in every session of the course, as directed by your tutor and following our critiquing guidelines. In turn you will receive peer feedback in each session of the course.

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

Lee Weatherly

Lee Weatherly

YA World Maker

Lee Weatherly (L.A. Weatherly) has written more than 50 books for children and young adults, including the bestselling Angel series, and is published in 20 different languages. She’s passionate about guiding new writing talent and has worked as a mentor across many projects.

More about Lee Weatherly

Peter Benson

Peter Benson

Fiction Supremo

Peter Benson has published eleven novels, several of which have been award-winning. He has also written short stories, poetry, screenplays, journalism and advertising copy. Peter has taught creative writing at the Arvon Foundation and the National Writing Centre of Wales, as well as several Universities.

More about Peter Benson

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

Mandy Byatt

Alumni Guide

Tessa Girvan


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I have been looking all my writing life for just the kind of detailed, attentive advice my tutor provided in his feedback on my novel — and it is just what I need.

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