Jumpstart Your Novel

The course

How to start writing a book.

Not sure how to begin a novel or breathe life into your ideas?

Join this eight-week online course to kickstart your novel, shape a story and give your writing momentum. You’ll explore and stress-test your premise, find and flesh out your central character, write a first chapter, and develop a sustainable story outline. By the end of the course you’ll have an industry-standard synopsis, a productive writing routine that fits into your day, plus the confidence and skills to push your novel forwards.

You’ll work in a small group of writers guided by an expert tutor – all our tutors are published novelists, embedded in the publishing world, as well as experienced online teachers (a rare combination).

Alongside weekly assignments, there are regular group Zoom sessions, a one-to-one tutorial with your tutor and live Q&A with a special guest author.

Suitable for writers who have taken our Fiction Foundations course or already have some writing experience, and prepares you for applying for a next-level novel-writing course.

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.

In partnership with Jericho Writers

We work in partnership with Jericho Writers to offer a range of practical industry-focused courses to guide writers from first ideas to edited novel.

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

This course is designed for people with some writing experience.

The course is suitable if you:

  • Have a novel idea, however small – you may just have a character, setting or topic you’d like to explore
  • Want to explore your potential as a novel writer
  • Would like to kickstart and stress-test a new idea
  • Feel blocked with a current novel
  • Would like to develop new and effective writing habits and routines
  • Enjoy the discipline of deadlines and peer feedback
  • Want to join a friendly and supportive small group of learners
  • Can dedicate 5-7 hours per week for the duration of the course.

This course allows you to:

  • Become more aware of the novel-writing process
  • Explore your potential as a novelist and find a subject and approach that works for you
  • Develop an effective synopsis and first chapter
  • Broaden your range of fiction craft techniques, including in character development, point of view, story and structure
  • Bring greater judgment in the selection, development and realisation of ideas
  • Develop an understanding of the professional skills writers 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 work on a final assignment.

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: Beginnings
You as a novel writer – why do you want to write this novel, and why is now the right time? Establishing your intent, your mission as a novel writer and committing to the expedition. Finding the right idea – taking inspiration from the world around you, or asking your inner writer to give you a good idea. You’ll share a summary of your novel idea.

Introductory group webchat with your tutor.

Session 2: Character & Plot
Who is going to inhabit this story? And what needs to happen to that character: drama is action! Exercises to help you catch up with your central character and ask them what they long for and want to achieve. Getting more curious about your character and how to write them into the story. You’ll introduce your protagonist to your group and tutor for the first time.

Session 3: Setting & Atmosphere
Bringing real or imagined settings to life in your novel, with practical sensory description techniques. What makes this different from writing a non-fiction description? How to get inside your narrator character so readers have a sense of seeing everything – action, landscapes, interiors, other characters – filtered through the very specific lens of this fictional person. You’ll show us what your central character feels in this setting.

Group webchat with your tutor.

Session 4: Point of View
The art of listening for the difference in how people express themselves, and how to ‘hear’ the voice of a character in your head when you are writing. Think about who is most affected by the events of your story and what suits you best as a point of view choice – for you as a writer and this novel. You’ll experiment with a POV that comes naturally and other options.

Session 5: Shaping a Story
How are character and plot intertwined? Let’s pull this apart this week and try out different story structure systems, with tricks of the novel-writer’s trade including a map in three acts. Also the dance between plotting and trusting the muse as you plot, looking at ways to allow space for magic and the unexpected in your novel. You’ll build a short scene to introduce your character’s ordinary world, learning how to bury clues and get your readers begging for change.

Group webchat with your tutor.

Session 6: Write Your Synopsis
Ready to tell your story in three simple sentences? We’ll do that this week, then build it up into a synopsis, learning to see this as an enjoyable creative process in itself. How to use the seven elements of a synopsis to clarify your novel idea, help you focus on the scope and shape of the story, and learn secrets about your characters, voice and potential as a novelist. You’ll share a short synopsis of your story for feedback.

Session 7: Novel Openings
We’re finally there: you have two weeks to immerse yourself in the fictional world you’re creating and write the opening of your novel. We’ll look at setting your narrator’s mood as the novel opens, finding an overarching ‘voice’ that will feel comfortable over the length of a novel, and techniques to draw readers instantly into your fictional world. With your tutor you’ll also think about what next, and how to keep up momentum as a novel writer.

You’ll have a one-to-one tutorial to discuss your synopsis, novel idea, and next steps. We’ll also have a live Q&A with special guest author on Zoom (date and time TBC).

At the end of the course you’ll have everything you need – including a synopsis, first pages, expert feedback and one-to-one guidance – to progress your novel or move onto a next-level novel-writing 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 course 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.

Commission a report on your work
If you’d like to receive a personalised, detailed report on your final piece of writing from your course tutor, this is available at an extra cost. You’ll receive detailed written feedback assessing your ideas and writing, plus advice on what steps to take next.

Taking things further
If you’d like to continue on to another 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

Start your journey


Earlybird price


(Including taxes)

My tutor taught me more about my writing in one podcast than I’ve been taught my whole writing life.

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