Fiction Writing: Advanced

7th June 2021 6:00pm to 12th July 2021 8:30pm, Online

*Course has already started*


Now it’s time to turn your book idea into a fully-fledged manuscript.

Following on from Fiction Writing: Fundamentals, critically acclaimed author William Ryan leads Fiction Writing: Advanced, a six-week online course designed to stress-test your work-in-progress. Expect an interrogation of your plot, tightening of dialogue, and tough questions asked of your cast of characters. As well as live workshopping, presentations on critical aspects of the writing process and regular professional feedback, participants also have the opportunity to hear from a commissioning editor and pitch their writing to a leading UK literary agent.


Course benefits

Students on this course should expect:

- 15 hours of practical writing advice and tuition over 6 weeks

- Feedback from William Ryan on up to 5,000 words of your own writing 

- Opportunity to pitch your work to a leading UK literary agent

- Peer-to-peer review; amass a wealth of objective feedback from fellow students 

- Deadlines on writing exercises and written work to make the most of what's on offer

- Copies of presentations and audio recordings from all sessions

- Exclusive discounts on W&A titles and other products

Each week sessions will combine tutorials with practical exercises, discussion and feedback.



William will read and mark up all work submitted during the course – highlighting areas which may need work and pointing out areas of strength. In addition you will be expected to read and give constructive feedback on the submitted work of the other students, as will the other students be expected to constructively feedback on your work. The format of each week will be a one hour talk by William, using submitted work as examples, followed by workshops on four of the submitted 1000 word submissions

Week 1

18.00-19.00: Structure

Using his novel The Constant Soldier as a basis, William will discuss how to structure a novel and the decisions that turn a promising idea into novel-length story.

19.05-20.30: Workshop on a submission in which a key moment in your novel takes place, together with a brief description of where this fits into your story.

Week 2

18.00-19.00: Developing Central Characters

William will lead a discussion in which the students will develop a central character, establishing their back story, situation, physical appearance and personality.

19.05-20.30: Workshop on a submission in which you introduce your central character, together with a brief description of where this fits into your story.

Week 3

18.00-19.00: Developing Subsidiary Characters

Using the Central Character from Week 2, William will lead a discussion in which the students will develop two subsidiary characters, establishing their role in the story and how they will interact with the central character.

19.05-20.30: Workshop on a submission which shows the relationship between a subsidiary character and your central character, together with a brief description of where this fits into your story.

Week 4

18.00-19.00: First Chapters, Synopses and How to Create Pace and Tension – William will discuss how to open your novel so as to appeal to readers and publishing professionals, how to prepare a synopsis that reflects its structure and the importance of pace and tension in a novel.

19.05-20.30: Workshop on a submission from the opening of your novel.

Week 5

18.00-19.00: Editing, Polishing & How Novels are Published.

Katherine Armstrong, Deputy Publishing Director at S&S, will explain the essential skills necessary to review your writing objectively and improve it. They will also discuss what publishers look for in prospective authors, what authors can expect from them, how the publishing process works and how submitted novels change from first drafts to published books.

19.05-20.30: Workshop on a submitted scene which you have found problematic or would like to discuss, together with a brief description of where this fits into your story. You will also be asked to submit a 300 word synopsis of your novel in order to assist in your preparation for their submission to the guest agent in Week 6

Week 6

18.00-19.00: Introducing Your Novel to the World of Publishing

19.05 to 20.30 Literary agent David Headley (DHH) will discuss what agents look for in prospective authors and what authors can expect from them, how the publishing process works and how submitted novels change from first drafts to published books. Jordan will then join William to hear your pitches and give feedback on your submitted 600 word synopses and 1000 word extracts.

Speaker profiles
William Ryan

William Ryan has written four historical novels which have been shortlisted for numerous awards, including the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year, The Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award, the HWA Gold Crown for Historical Fiction, the Crime Writers Association’s Steel, Historical and New Blood Daggers and the Irish Crime Novel of the Year (three times). William teaches creative writing at City University in London and has previously taught at the University of East Anglia. His latest novel, A House of Ghosts, was published in 2019 by Bonnier Zaffre

Katherine Armstrong

Katherine Armstrong has been in publishing for nearly twenty years and is currently Deputy Publishing Director for Crime & Thriller fiction at Simon & Schuster, where she oversees the publishing of the crime & thriller list. She started her career at Waterstones before moving to Faber & Faber, Sphere (part of the Little, Brown Book Group) and Bonnier Books UK. She has a lifelong passion for crime and thriller fiction and is one of the organisers’ for First Monday Crime Nights in London, as well as being a judge for the CWA Debut Dagger for unpublished authors and a programming consultant for NOIReland, Belfast’s International Crime Fiction Festival. 

David Headley

David Headley studied theology in London and Durham before co-founding and becoming the Managing Director of Goldsboro Books, a much admired, leading independent bookseller, based in central London.

David has spent the last 21 years establishing Goldsboro Books and building good relationships with editors within the UK’s major publishing houses. He has a good eye for what readers want to read and he has gained a reputation for championing debut authors. He created the UK’s largest collectors’ book club and is influential in selling large quantities of hardback fiction in the UK. David has won awards for bookselling and in 2015 and 2020, he was included in the Top 100 most influential people in publishing by The Bookseller.

David is the managing director of the D H H Literary Agency which he founded in 2008 and represents an eclectic range of best-selling and award-winning authors.

David is actively looking for: character-driven debuts and epic sweeping stories with big universal themes. Issue-driven crime and thrillers, high concepts and fear-inducing suspense. Thought-provoking stories, original narrative voices, uplifting fiction and emotional journeys - "stories that I don't want to end". David also accepts non-fiction submissions, from memoir, biography and history to politics, science, popular culture and food.

Tara Loder

Tara Loder has worked in publishing for almost fifteen years, eight of them in fiction. Most recently as the Editorial Director for Fiction at Welbeck, she covered a range of genres from reading group to crime to saga, working with name brands such as Andy McNab and debuts such as Linda Calvey. She started her Fiction career at Headline, and have worked at Little, Brown and Bonnier Books UK as well.

Booking & payment

The course fee of £395 (inc. VAT) is payable in full online. 

Please do contact us if you wish to discuss an instalment payment plan by calling 0207 631 5985 or by sending an email to

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