The Complete Novel Writing Course

Mentoring from first concept to third draft with prize-winning author. Apply now!

This course is possibly unique in the world of writing. It provides new writers with the opportunity to be mentored one-to-one on their novel from first idea right through to the third (and possibly final) draft. If that final draft is strong enough to be marketed, we'll help with that too. The mentoring is with Daren King, a bestselling and prize-winning author of both adult and children's fiction.

"Daren has been a brilliant mentor and has provided invaluable help and insight. He has given me advice in relation to all aspects of the book, from plotting and structure, to fine linguistic details. I’m not sure I could have finished it without him. I am pleased to say that I now have an agent." - Eve Harris, who went on to be longlisted for the Booker Prize

To qualify for this course, all you need is an idea for a book and the desire to write it. Some people will have already started a novel when they join the course; others will have no more than a one-sentence idea of what they want to write. Either way, it's fine. You'll develop your skills and your ideas in the company of one of Britain's brightest and most versatile writers.

“I’ve learned more in the weeks we've been working together than I did during my entire MA at UEA.” Lorna Thorpe, Cornwall, England

How It Works

The process works in three phases:

A) Detailed work on prose style. Daren will give you an intensive prose tutorial, using a chunk of your own prose as an example. It's critical to make sure that you get a pair of well-fitting boots, before you even start to take a walk ...

B) Structural work. Daren will take you from a single line synopsis of your work through to a fully worked out plan for the novel, every step of which will be powerfully story-driven.

C) Comments and feedback on drafts one to three.

You get extensive mentoring via email at every stage. But this is much more than a distance learning course. Think of it more as an apprenticeship, where, at vital stages in your development, you will be able to meet up with Daren. You'll have up to three one hour long face-to-face meetings, to be used as and when you and Daren think it makes most sense. You'll also receive detailed "how to" notes from Daren, although please note that the overall process will be much more tailored to your own story and needs than the typical 'distance learning' course. Think of it as a way to plan and write your novel in the company of a very experienced and talented pro. See Daren's own comments below for more on the process.

 

“Daren’s service was thorough, insightful and of tremendous value. I can honestly say that it was worth every penny. I would happily take the course again and my guess is that it would be just as beneficial second time around. I have recently submitted my finished novel to various London agents, and one has offered representation.” - Paul Ryan, County Wicklow, Ireland

Cost & Booking

 

To book a place or field an enquiry, please call us on 0845 459 9560 or send us an email at info@writersworkshop.co.uk.

Daren can only take on a certain number of students in any year, so availability is strictly limited. If you are interested, then get in touch right away as we're happy to reserve places on a temporary basis as you think things over. Price on application.

 

Daren King Comments

"Most successful published authors I know—myself included—learnt to write the hard way: through trial and error. Ultimately, the only way to hone your skills is to sit down and write; but your learning curve will be considerably less steep with an experienced author to guide.

I believe that good writing can be taught. Certainly I was not born able to write. My own writing skills began to come together during my mid twenties, when a university lecturer—herself a published author—explained to me that the last word in a sentence tends to carry the most emphasis. I had to figure out the rest myself, and this took several years and a vast amount of work, all the while not knowing for certain I would ever get published at all. It is not uncommon for an unpublished author to spend two years working on a project only to discover—perhaps after sending their manuscript to an organisation such as the Writers' Workshop—that they have written the entire novel in the wrong voice or from the wrong viewpoint, or that the plot begins halfway through.

Whether writing a commercial children’s novel like Mouse Noses on Toast or a literary novel like Boxy an Star, I always take a structured, methodological approach. There are unpublished writers who shudder at the thought of following a methodology. Surely rules and restrictions will curtail their creativity? In fact, more freedom is the last thing most writers need.

So, how exactly can I help?

If you are setting out on a career as an author of plot-driven fiction—perhaps crime thrillers, historical romances, fantasy, children’s adventure fiction or horror—I can teach you a unique methodology called the Full Page Method, which I developed over some years while planning my forthcoming crime thriller The Men and the Women. I am sure you know how painful it is to stare at a blank page or screen, scratching your head, waiting for ‘inspiration’ to strike.

More often than not it doesn’t, and you end up with prose that feels contrived, and lacks insight or any real sense of direction. Full Page Method avoids this trap by enabling you to create a highly structured rough draft, first by developing a single line synopsis into an increasingly detailed plot outline, and secondly by building up the scenes in layers.

Those of you who wish to master literary fiction—works driven by characterisation, theme or voice—may prefer a less structured approach. I can help you explore your characters and themes and develop your voice, and lead you through the techniques and concepts which I have developed while writing my own literary fiction. I can teach you a concept I call Surface Tension, which ensures that your novel’s premise can be felt in every sentence; and how to keep your reader with you by rooting your more abstract and emotive passages in a concrete reality.

Most crucially, whatever type of fiction you choose to write, I will  teach you how to perfect your use of language, so that you can tell your story with confidence and style."

Course Tutor

 Daren King (view author website) has written since he was old enough to pick up a pen without putting it in his mouth. He is an award-winning English novelist. His debut novel, Boxy an Star, was shortlisted for the 1999 Guardian First Book Award and longlisted for the 1999 Booker Prize. His first children's novel, Mouse Noses on Toast, won first prize in the 6-8 age category of the Nestle Children's Book Prize.

His books have been published around the world, including Canada and the US, and have been translated into Italian, German and Russian.

“These notes are helping more than anything from university, self-help books, small courses; all of them put together even. Makes me believe even more that I was lucky to have got the chance to do this mentorship with you.” - David Graham Ward, Gateshead, England

“I signed up for Daren's course in the autumn of 2009 as I felt that, in order to go forward with my writing and give myself a fighting chance of one day producing something commercially viable, I needed outside help. I feel I have gained so much from working with him, and I am extremely grateful to have had the benefit of his patience and expertise.” - Jill Cowley, Washington DC, USA

“Daren ... guides you in a way that allows your idiosyncrasies full run. The joy for me has been ending up with a book that contains everything I set out to achieve and more, but at a quarter of the length it was when I first approached Daren.” - Richard Ruegg, Queensland, Australia

“I worked with Daren for about 10 months while I wrote my first novel. His feedback was direct and honest and I really valued his criticism. I miss working with him as I hadn’t realised how much he was a part of keeping the momentum going for me.” - Jo Carrington, North Somerset, England

Are you keen to know more?

Of course you are. Just drop us a short email telling us where you're at with your writing - do you have a part-finished novel? are you a total beginner? do you have a messy draft you need help with? - and we'll get straight back to you with info on price and availability. Kick start your writing right now this minute.

Our promise: We'll answer your questions with total honesty. We will never hard-sell you, not even a bit. If we don't think we can help, we'll say so upfront.