Write Better Fiction: Improve Your Manuscript in Four Weeks - June 24

3rd June 2024 6:00pm to 24th June 2024 8:30pm, Online

Are you serious about taking your writing to the next level? Do you want to improve your manuscript in just four weeks?

Write Better Fiction is an introduction to the essentials of storytelling, and a perfect opportunity to learn about the writing process. Critically acclaimed author William Ryan will guide you through key elements including point of view, conflict, setting, crafting scenes and writing dialogue. You'll delve into these and more, developing your confidence as a writer and learning how to apply them to your own work. Throughout the course you'll receive invaluable critical feedback on both your prose and story structure to help you elevate your fiction. 


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 800-word submissions

Week One

18.00-19.00: Techniques of Prose Fiction
William will discuss various basic stylistic elements of fictional storytelling, including the use of point of view for narration, structure, managing characters, the importance of conflict, conveying information and handling description, momentum and advice on good prose, followed by a workshop based around submitted work.

19.05-20.30: Workshop on a 800-word extract which reflects the general tone of your story, together with a brief description of where this fits into your story.

Week Two

18.00-19.00: Writing Place – Writing Setting, Research, Atmosphere and Dramatic World
William will discuss how to write the setting and location in which your story takes place, the importance of research and how to use it, how to create an atmosphere that works for your story and the importance of identifying the dramatic world that will contain your story.

19.05-20.30: Workshop on an extract in which your central character visits a location for the first time, together with a brief description of where this fits into your story.

Week Three

18.00-19.00: Writing Scenes – The Scene is the Building Block of Your Story
William will discuss the importance of identifying the purpose of a scene, how to begin scenes, how to end them, the benefits of subtexts and how to introduce them, the need for conflict and ways in which to enhance each scene’s dramatic complexity and appeal.

19.05-20.30: Workshop on a submission of a dramatic scene between two or more characters which changes the course of your story, together with a brief description of where this fits into your story and what the characters motivations are.

Week Four

18.00-19.00: Writing Dialogue – Good Dialogue is Likely to be Key to Success
William will discuss the function of dialogue, how to carry dialogue, how to create character dialogue styles as well as the importance of conflict, motivation and control in dialogue.

19.05-20.30: Workshop on a submission in which a key conversation takes place, together with a brief description of where this fits into your story and what the characters motivations are. 

Course benefits

Students on this course should expect:

- 10 hours of practical writing advice and tuition over just 4 weeks

- Feedback from William Ryan on up to 3,200 words of your own writing (4x 800-word submissions)

- 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.

Beyond the course

"I’m lucky to be part of a writing group that meets monthly. We share around 1,000 words each time – sending the extracts in advance and discussing in person. There’s a strong level of trust between us that has been built over years. We started on a W&A course together, where we developed the habit of sharing our work. When the course stopped, we didn’t." Heather Critchlow, author of Unsolved (Canelo Crime), and previous course attendee. Read 'The Feedback Loop' here

If you're ready to further develop your manuscript check out William Ryan's winter course: Your Novel: Structuring, Editing and Preparing for Submission

Testimonials from all W&A courses led by William Ryan

"I’m finishing this course in a completely different place to where I started it and I’m SO glad I made the investment to sign up for it! I’ve relished the opportunities you’ve given me each week to get to grips with the different aspects of the writing process, and I’ve seen (with glee) how my approach to writing has developed over the weeks. (I noticed improvements from the very first workshop in Week 1 and knew then that the course was entirely worth its salt)." Julie Christi 

'Joining the W&A course with Bill Ryan was a real turning point for a floundering writer! The combination of teaching, talks and workshopping gave me the skills to structure, critique and edit my novel properly. Bill is both kind and exacting - the perfect combination for guiding writers to improve and go forward to submission to agents and publishers. He is extremely generous with his time and feedback, creating a supportive and constructive space to examine your own and fellow students' work. This has extended beyond the course: several of us still meet monthly to share and discuss our writing. I highly recommend Bill's course and teaching - it was a fantastic investment and a lot of fun.' Heather Critchlow, author of Unsolved (Canelo Crime), publishing in May 2023

'Taking Bill Ryan’s novel course was one of the best decisions I have made as a writer. His classes combined useful lessons on crafting a novel in all its component parts with the close reading of each writer’s text. His insightful critique of my prose cut to the heart of what did and did not work in the scene, and his kind encouragement left me motivated to keep pushing myself to grow as a writer. All this while creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere where students felt confident to share their work.' Tammye Huf, author of A More Perfect Union (Myriad Editions)

'Bill gently teases the story out, with the sort of questions readers would ask. He helps writers understand that every sentence is important, that every conversation must add to the overall narrative arc, and that there is no valid ‘filler’. His feedback plus the feedback of others on the course, was invaluable for getting outside the writer’s point of view and into the reader’s.' Michele Kirsch, author of Clean (Short Books), winner of the RSL Christopher Bland Prize

'I was very impressed with the amount of work Bill put in, and the overall standard of work was very high indeed. It was a good catalyst for getting people writing, and the criticism from other students was, in the main, helpful.' Liz Newman

'[T]his was superb. One of the best writing courses I've been on.'  Wassim

'Thank you for a useful and inspiring course. The weeks flew. I feel I’ve improved as a writer and also as a reader; I find I’m looking for the ‘strings’ when I’m reading published novels now, and marvelling when an author has hidden them well. The tutor was encouraging, as were the other writers on the course. Some of us are keeping in touch to give continued feedback on one another’s work.' Marie Kreft

'This was my first course on creative writing and I feel like a whole new world has opened up for me. I can now see so many more ways to improve my writing. Now I just need to put them into practice. Bill was patient and encouraging for those who needed support to boost their confidence. He created an environment that urged improvement in a comfortable way. Thank you!' Beth Rehman

'This was the first online course I’ve taken. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was delighted. I learned so much from Bill’s feedback in the workshops – not just with me but also with the other participants. And I gained a lot too from exchanging feedback with my fellow course participants. I don’t hesitate to recommend the course to anyone with a first novel in progress.' John Nixon

'I have been on courses before, but haven’t experienced such a solid, useful mix of the tools of the trade and feedback. Inspiring, practical, enjoyable.' Clare Palmer

'Bill gave very detailed feedback, sometimes quite challenging. He made a real effort to balance criticism with encouragement – not easy […] There was a real sense of progress, especially in the last couple of weeks where everyone seemed to have raised their game. […] Insightful. Challenging. Encouraging.' Stuart Blake

Speaker profiles
William Ryan

William Ryan has written six 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 (four times). William has previously taught creative writing at City, University of London and at the University of East Anglia as well as being the author of the Writers' & Artists' Guide to How to Write. His latest novel, The Winter Guest, was published in January 2021 by Bonnier Zaffre.

Booking & payment

The course fee of £275 (incl. VAT) is payable in full online. Please note, all timings listed are UK Time.

Payment instalment plans are available for all W&A events, writing courses and editing services. Contact W&A Admin on events@writersandartists.co.uk so that we can find a payment schedule that works for you.

If this event is Sold Out, please look out for other writing courses by visiting our Events homepage.

To view our event refund and cancellation policy, please click here.

Accessible to All

It’s of real importance to Writers & Artists that our events and courses remain accessible to all.

  • This is an online course presented via Zoom video-conferencing software. Joining instructions and full guidance will be provided before the course start-date.
  • Course materials are made available to participants after each session at the discretion of the course leader.
  • A recording of each session will be circulated to participants and remain available to view for a time-limited period.
  • The course will include written text and visuals. Please contact us in advance so that we can make arrangements to be sure all documents appear in a format that works for you.
  • If you’d like to attend but have any questions or concerns regarding accessibility, then please email AccessWA@bloomsbury.com