Your Novel: Structuring, Editing and Preparing for Submission

30th October 2023 6:00pm to 4th December 2023 8:30pm, Online

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

Following on from – but independent of – Writing Better Fiction: Techniques and Skills to Improve your Stories, critically acclaimed author William Ryan leads Your Novel: Structuring, Editing and Preparing for Submission, a six-week online course designed to stress-test your work-in-progress. Expect an interrogation of your plot, tough questions asked of your cast of characters, first chapters and setting and an examination of the process of getting an agent and the editorial process preceding publication. As well as presentations on critical aspects of the writing process, workshops and feedback from William on your writing and story, 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 over 5,000 words of your own writing, including two versions of your synopsis

- Opportunity to pitch your work to a leading UK literary agent and receive feedback

- 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


William will read and mark up 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 Winter Guest as a basis, William will discuss how to structure a novel and the decisions that turn a promising idea into a 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 Momentum

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 an 800-word submission from your novel as well as a 300-word synopsis

Week 5

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

An editor from a publishing house 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: You will be asked to submit a 800-word submission which you have found problematic and would like feedback on, together with a brief description of where it fits into your story. You will also be asked to submit a revised 500 word synopsis of your novel in order to assist in your preparation for their submission to the guest agent in Week 6. The workshop part f the evening will address the synopses.

Week 6

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

19.05 to 20.30 A leading literary agent 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 500-word synopses and 1000-word extracts.

Testimonials from all W&A courses led by William Ryan

'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 (publishing with Canelo Crime 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 £395 (incl. VAT) is payable in full online. Please note, all timings for the course are UK Time.

Payment instalment plans are available for all W&A events, writing courses and editing services. Contact W&A Admin on 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



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