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Your Novel - January 2020

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Start: 29th January 2020 - 6:00pm

Finish: 1st April 2020 - 8:30pm


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Join us for a ten-week course dedicated to helping you transform your novel idea into a fully-fledged manuscript. 

Whether you've written half a draft or on your third edit, we've designed this course to help you progress as a writer. Along with giving you the ‘how-to’ writing tools you need to hone your novel-in-progress, your work will be assessed along the way by experts in their fields, all designed to help you take your writing to the next level. 

Led by author and creative writing tutor William Ryan, the course will look at essential elements of the writing craft and how you can apply them to your own manuscript, including writing exercises that directly involve the material of your novel-in-progress. 

Based at our Bloomsbury offices, evening sessions will last for two and a half hours, from 6-8.30pm, making it ideal for those with full-time jobs and other commitments. There will be opportunities at the beginning and the end of the course to get to know the other writers, as well as William himself.

"Taking Bill's course was one of the best decisions I've made as a writer. His classes combined useful lessons on crafting a novel in all its component parts, and offered a close reading of each writers’s text. His insightful critique of my prose cut to the heart of what did and did not work, and his kind encouragement left me motivated to keep pushing myself to grow as a writer. And all of this while creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere in which students felt confident about sharing their work. Worth every penny."

Tammye Huf, Your Novel student and author of A More Perfect Union (Myriad 2021)

"It was great to meet all the students in their first week and hear about the range of novels they were working on. It was clear by the last session that the writers had all come on immeasurably – not just in terms of improving their writing, but also in giving and receiving constructive feedback."

Jemima Forrester, literary agent and course guest speaker

"I’ve been lucky enough to attend several workshops run by Bill, and can’t recommend them enough. They really opened my eyes about what it takes to turn a good idea into the finished article, teaching me about plot structure, character development, and how to really make a scene come alive. My debut novel is now due out in April 2018, and I’d credit Bill’s workshops with helping me get this far."

Robert Scragg, author of What Falls Between The Cracks (Allison & Busby, 2018)


There will be a maximum of 12 students in your session, in which you will receive:

- Weekly writing workshops led by William, focusing on extracts from your novel. You will receive at least 3 group critiques – each of up to 1000 words of your work – assessed in a workshop environment

- At least five edited mark-ups of your submissions (depending on number of attendees, this may be more.)

- Weekly teaching sessions on key elements of the writing process from William and other tutors

- Sessions punctuated by takeaway practical advice based around your own writing, each designed to improve your work and enhance its chances of being published 

- The opportunity to give and receive constructive feedback on submitted work from your fellow students

- 25 hours of advice from a combination of leading authors and publishing industry professionals designed to help you take your work forward towards publication

- Feedback on your novel’s premise and sample chapters from both William and guest literary agent TBC at the beginning of the course, followed by another chance to pitch the revised version of your novel to Agents TBC at the end of the course

- Exclusive discounts on W&A products and a complimentary copy of the latest edition of the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook

- The chance to meet like-minded authors and study at our offices in historic Bloomsbury

Note: Skype and conference call facilities can be arranged for those who would like to access sessions remotely. Please contact Writers & Artists at the email address below for further details.



The workshops will run from 6.00-8.30pm at Bloomsbury Publishing (50 Bedford Square) and will take place on Wednesday evenings. You will be asked to submit extracts from your novel-in-progress prior to the workshop in order to receive written feedback from William and fellow students. These evening sessions will focus on the essential issues crucial to writing your novel, including structure, dialogue, character development and self-editing. 


Throughout the course, you will be joined by leading authors and publishing industry experts offering advice designed to help you hone and refine your novel-in-progress. With plenty of opportunity for Q&A's, these sessions will give you a greater insight into the world of publishing, and give you a clear view of what you need to achieve in your writing.


At the beginning of the course you’ll be joined by a guest literary agent, who will have read the opening of your novel plus a one-page synopsis of your novel-in-progress. They will discuss your work and identify the particular areas that you’ll need to work on during the course. Towards the end of the course, students will be asked to submit their work again to the literary agent, who will also be joined by other top literary agents to hear your novel pitches and give their feedback on your submitted synopses and sample writing. 


Week 1:  Wednesday 29th January

A week prior to the course all attendees should submit a synopsis (no more than 500 words) and sample of your writing (1000 words) to by 5pm on the 25th January.

18.00- 19.00: Introduction to the Course

William will be joined by literary agent Jemima Forrester (David Higham Associates) who will have read and considered the synopses and samples of writing that you have submitted. They will discuss your work and identify the particular areas you should focus on during the course. 

19.15-20.30: William will provide an overview of the Basic Technical Aspects of a Novel.

Extras: The attendees to be workshopped will be asked to submit an extract in which they use research, establish atmosphere and/or establish the setting, together with a brief description of where this fits into their story. This will be discussed in Week 2.

Week 2: Wednesday 5th February

18.00-19.00: Research, Atmosphere & Setting

19.15-20.30: Workshop

Extras: The attendees to be workshopped will be asked to submit an extract in which a key plot development occurs, together with a brief description of where this fits into their story. This will be discussed in Week 3.

Week 3: Wednesday 12th February

18.00-19.00: Structure

Author Tim Pears will explore the structural requirements of the novel and how they develop their ideas into a finished story. 

19.15-20.30:  Workshop 

Extras: The attendees to be workshopped will be asked to submit an extract which represent the climax of their story. This will be discussed in Week 4.

Week 4: Wednesday 19th February

18.00-19.00:  Testing your Story

William will discuss the structural requirements of fiction in more detail, using as an example his recent novel, The Constant Soldier

19.15-20.30: Workshop

Extras: The attendees to be workshopped will be asked to submit an extract in which they introduce their central character. This will be discussed in Week 5.

Week 5: Wednesday 26th February

18.00-19.00: Testing Your Central Character

Have you chosen the right central character – and can they be improved? 

19.15-20.30: Workshop

Extras: The attendees to be workshopped will be asked to submit an extract which shows the relationship between a subsidiary character and the central character. This will be discussed in Week 6.

Week 6: Wednesday 4th March

18.00-19.00: Testing Your Subsidiary Characters

Your story is a world that needs populating – have you chosen the right characters?

19.15-20.30: Workshop

Extras: The attendees to be workshopped will be asked to submit an extract in which they show a key conversation taking place, together with a brief description of where this fits into their story and what the characters motivations are. This will be discussed in Week 7.

Week 7: Wednesday 11th March

18.00-19.00: Dialogue

Your story needs conversation: in this session, William will explore the art and function of dialogue.

19.15-20.30: Workshop

Extras: The attendees to be workshopped will be asked to submit an extract that marks the beginning of their story. This will be discussed in Week 8. 

Week 8: Wednesday 18th March

18.00-19.00: Editing, Polishing & Synopses

Editorial Directorof Raven Books, Alison Hennessey will explain the essential skills necessary to review your writing objectively and improve it, as well as the art of the synopsis. They will also discuss what they 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.

Extras: All attendees will be asked to submit an extract which they have found problematic or would like to discuss, together with a brief description of where this fits into their story. They will also be asked to submit a 300-word synopsis of their novel in order to assist in preparation for submitting to the guest agents in Week 10. These will be discussed in Week 9.

19.15-20.30: Workshop

Week 9: Wednesday 25th March

18.00-19.00: First Chapters, Scenes, Pace & Tension

In this session, William work through and explore these essential ingredients of the novel.

19.15-20.30: Workshop

Extras: At the end of Week 9 all attendees will be asked to submit an extract from their novel as well as a synopsis, and asked to prepare a one-minute pitch in preparation for the pitching session in Week 10.

Week 10: Wednesday 1st April

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

Literary agent Jemima Forrester (David Higham Associates) and Jordan Lees (Blair Partnership)will rejoin William to hear your pitches and give their feedback on your submitted synopses and sample writing. Also joining them will be another literary agent.

Extras: This final session will conclude with a refreshments and the opportunity to review the course and ask any final unanswered questions you might have.

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. 


William Ryan author

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 new novel, A House of Ghosts, will be published in October. 

Tim Pears is the author of eight novels: In the Light of MorningIn the Place of Fallen Leaves (winner of the Hawthornden Prize and the Ruth Hadden Memorial Award), Wake UpBlenheim OrchardIn a Land of Plenty (made into a ten-part BBC series), A Revolution of the SunLanded (shortlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2012 and the 2011 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, winner of the MJA Open Book Awards 2011), and Disputed Land. He has been Writer in Residence at Cheltenham Festival of Literature and Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Oxford Brookes University, and has taught creative writing at Ruskin College and elsewhere. He lives in Oxford with his wife and children.

Jemima Forrester joined David Higham in September 2016 having previously been senior commissioning editor at Orion Publishing Group. She is looking for commercial and upmarket fiction, including crime and thrillers, psychological suspense, accessible literary fiction, women’s fiction and speculative/high-concept novels.

Jemima loves distinctive narrative voices, well-paced, intriguing plots and characters that leap off the page. Her favourite books of recent years include Elizabeth is Missing, DisclaimerLife After LifeThe Night CircusMe Before You and anything by Jo Nesbø, Margaret Atwood or Curtis Sittenfeld.

In non-fiction, she is looking for innovative cookery, popular-culture and lifestyle projects, unique personal stories and humour.

Harry Illingsworth studied English Literature and Creative Writing at Northumbria University before moving to London to work in publishing.

He completed internships at Michael O’Mara Books, HarperCollins and Pan Macmillan, gaining experience in different departments of the publishing industry. It was during his placement at Macmillan that he met David Headley and he was invited to join the team at Goldsboro Books, where he is currently the Marketing and Communications Manager, and a Literary Agent at the DHH Literary Agency.

Harry loves genre fiction and is looking for novels with commercial crossover appeal. He loves science fiction and fantasy of all kinds, especially gritty and epic, and is looking for speculative fiction and strong high-concept crime / thrillers with an original narrative and voice (no screenplays). Please do not send him YA, unless there is clear adult appeal. More than anything, he wants to be entertained, but a strong writing style is essential. Some of his favourite authors include Joe Abercrombie, Pierce Brown, Anthony Ryan, Emily St. John Mandel, Scott Lynch and Ted Chiang.


The course will be held at Bloomsbury Publishing, 50 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3DP. 


The course fee of £950 (inc VAT) per student is payable in full online. Please do contact us to discuss an instalment payment plan by calling us on 0207 631 5985 or by sending an email to

Please note that opportunities to partake in this course via Skype are available, so do get in touch with us on the above email if you’re interested in finding out more.

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


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