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How To Write A Novel Course

10 weeks

Aimed at:



This course has no available dates.

Course Overview

This course is designed for new writers who want to write a novel and is aimed at more confident writers who feel ready for a more in-depth approach to the subject. You dont need to have any prior creative writing experience; most of our students dont.

This wonderful course in novel writing will help you to:

  • Generate original ideas and establish what kind of writer you want to be and what your target market is
  • Improve your writing style and find a distinctive voice that grabs attention
  • Understand the underlying principles of narrative and pace
  • Help you craft your novels structure, as well as exploring the importance of the way you open and close your novel
  • Get to grips with character and get under the skin of your protagonists to make them feel as real as they can be

You have the option either to generate a new idea at the beginning of the course that you then develop over the successive exercises, or to devote time to an existing idea in which you believe. Either way, by the time the course finishes you will be well on the way to successfully planning and writing your novel.

Course Syllabus

Week 1 - ideas and concepts

How do you generate ideas? How can you make them conform to a genre, and how can you judge if something is marketable or not? We explore the initial creative process, from finding the initial spark of an idea to crafting it into a genuinely sellable concept.

Week 2 - openings

Agents time is precious; you need to grab them from the first page. We look at what makes people want to read on and what turns them off, as well as exploring the idea of “hooks” and how to plant the seeds that set up your story.

Week 3 - Settings

How can you make the world of your book feel real? We discuss the importance of time and place, how they affect mood and tone, and how the backdrop against which they exist can shape the personality of your characters.

Week 4 - Aspects of style, 1

Two key areas that new writers struggle to master are, “show, dont tell”, and points of view. We investigate how you can subtly make readers understand your characters, rather than feeding them information, as well as when and how should you employ multiple perspectives, and how you can avoid shifting between different characters points of view.

Week 5 - Aspects of style, 2

We explore the two mainstays of prose, description and dialogue. What should the function of description be? How does dialogue affect character perceptions, when should it be used, and how can you valuably use subtext?

Week 6 - Finding your voice

Some authors are instantly recognisable from a few lines. We explore what makes a distinctive and original voice and how you can find yours, and look at the difference between authorial and narrative first/third person voices.

Week 7 - Characterisation and inner worlds

Strong, believable characters that generate empathy can make a good novel into a great one. We look at how to create and build a character, from naming and physical details right through to the psychology and back-story that may not even make it on to the final page.

Week 8 - Plotting and structure

Without a solid, gripping plot and structure behind it, your novel wont impress an agent in today’s world. We investigate the idea of the dramatic arc, look at plotting techniques designed to help you know where you’re going, explore how to utilise sub-plots and discuss the importance of pace and dramatic tension.

Week 9 - Rewriting and self-editing

How do you know when your work is finished? We look at moving beyond the first draft, “killing your darlings” and knowing when to listen to others and when to trust your own judgement.

Week 10 - Endings, agents and sources of help

The end of a novel is as important as the beginning; we explore different types of ending, and then move on to the process beyond the final full stop: releasing your work into the world.

Course Tutors

Rebecca Connell

Rebecca lives in south London. She has published two literary novels, The Art of Losing (2009) and Told in Silence (2010), with Fourth Estate (HarperCollins), and is currently working on a literary crime novel. Rebecca graduated from Oxford University, where she read English Language and Literature, in 2001. She has worked as an agents assistant, an assistant producer developing programme ideas for major television production companies, and a market researcher. Read HarperCollins biography of Rebecca.


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Customer Reviews
A review of the How to Write a Novel Intermediate Course29th March 2017
By Janet Wilkinson
I found the How to Write a Novel course, run by Rebecca Connell, both challenging and inspiring. Rebecca’s insightful and thorough feedback gave me an excellent basis to develop my skills and pursue ... read more..
I found the How to Write a Novel course, run by Rebecca Connell, both challenging and inspiring. Rebecca’s insightful and thorough feedback gave me an excellent basis to develop my skills and pursue my ambition of becoming a published author. Each aspect of the course gave me food for thought, and the spread of topics, from the “micro” level of the careful placing of each word, to the “macro” aspect of plotting an entire novel, was remarkable. I now feel ready to embark on creating my manuscript and would like to thank both Rebecca and all my fellow students for their help and encouragement.

How our online courses work

Our courses are hosted on our own community site, The Word Cloud, which is a very friendly, intuitive and supportive writing community.

The tools and environment are very intuitive and easy to use: you won't have a problem. Each week, courses will include:

• A video introduction
• A written 'lecture'
• Interactive classroom discussion
• A writing exercise on the week's topic
• Feedback on your homework

All the course material can be accessed at any time of day or night. If you miss a few days, it will be easy to catch up. You are also warmly encouraged to interact with fellow-students - offer advice, give feedback and make friends. Find out more about how our courses work here.