Complete novel writing course with your own personal writing mentor

How to write a novel: one-to-one mentoring from first idea to finished novel

writingThis course is possibly unique in the world of writing. And, according to our feedback, could be more helpful than costlier creative writing classes and programs, including MAs.

If you’re ready to be a novelist, this could be the course for you.

This creative writing course 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. This mentoring is with Daren King, a bestselling and prize-winning author of both adult and children’s fiction.

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 the UK’s brightest and most versatile writers.

“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, UK, longlisted for the Booker Prize


How mentoring works

This process is tailored to you and 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 start to take a hike, after all.)

B) Structural writing 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 your novel drafts one to three.

You get extensive, personal mentoring via email at every stage. But this is much more than just an online writing class or forum. Think of it more as personal, one-to-one creative writing tutoring where at vital stages in your development you will be able to meet 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.


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

You’ll also receive detailed notes from Daren, although please note that the overall process will be much more tailored to your own story and needs than the typical online writing program or writing classes. Think of it as a way to plan and write your novel in the company of a very experienced and talented writing tutor. Scroll down for Daren’s own comments 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, Ireland


Your tutor on mentoring writers

Daren King

“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.

“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.”
Richard Ruegg, Australia

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.”

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


More about your writing mentor

Daren King (view his 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.


How to book and start writing a novel

To book a place or field an enquiry, please send us an email at and tell us your needs. As a mentor, 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.

Just drop us a short email telling us where you’re at with your writing (i.e. do you have a part-finished novel, are you a total beginner, do you have a messy draft you need help with?), and we will get straight back to you with info on price and availability. Kickstart your writing this minute.

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


Course testimonials

Just read more great feedback received internationally for this course.

“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 ... he was a part of keeping the momentum going for me.”
Jo Carrington, UK

“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, USA

“This course was the biggest leap forward in my writing I’ve ever taken. I never imagined I’d be capable of combining three or four chapters into one while trimming 75% of the words. I’ve not worked on any novels since January, but I’ve been writing up a lot of blog/website content … and the improvement in my storytelling abilities from a year ago are immense. I can now write a 3,000-word short story in 500 words or less. Plotting out the book was challenging too. You were a tough taskmaster when it came to getting things right before starting the actual writing. Likewise with the ending. There were a few times I really had to wrack my brains to get some of your suggestions right. But I think I got there in the end, and huge lessons were learned. The icing on the cake was our brainstorming session in London. I’d never experienced anything (writing-wise) so intense before, and I got a huge kick from it. I also greatly appreciated your timely email responses. Nearly too timely, actually. There were a few lazy days when I wished you’d take things slightly easier. Regardless of how things work out with getting an agent or publisher, I got way more than I’d expected from this course, and I’d recommend it to anyone. Thanks a million!”
Colm McGeever, Sweden


Learn more or apply for a place