Developing your novel

Course Dates: 13/01/20 - 23/03/20
Time: 12:30 - 14:30
Location: KS - Keeley Street

Have you started work on your novel? This course is suitable for experienced creative writers who want to make progress with a novel draft. Learn more about the art of novel writing and move your project forward in a supportive workshop environment.


What is the course about?

This one-term course for experienced creative writers explores the essential techniques of novel writing. If you've started writing your novel, this course will help you to shape your material into a coherent whole, and teach you to develop believable characters, structure scenes, and edit your own work.

Students say: "I loved the stimulating atmosphere and the motivating comments from the workshop"; "There was critical feedback encouraging excellence"; "Very inspiring"; "It was encouraging, challenging and affirming.".

What will we cover?

- Developing techniques for novel writing
- The art of constructive criticism and editing your own work
- Creating and honing a character
- Beginnings, endings, and everything in between
- Methods to thwart writers’ block.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Respond to and assess pieces of writing with sensitivity
- Improve your plotting and editing skills
- Produce a significant portion of your novel.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This is not a beginners' class. It is best suited for students who have already attended creative writing courses and
have made significant progress writing a draft of a novel. You should be an enthusiastic reader of novels.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Some exercises will be set and hand-outs analysed, but the main focus will be on students' own work. You will be expected to develop your own writing outside of class and prepare work for submission to workshop. The tutor may set reading and writing exercises designed to support your project as homework.

All writing courses at City Lit will involve an element of workshop. This means that students will produce work which will be discussed in an open and constructive environment with the tutor and other students. The college operates a policy of constructive criticism, and all feedback on another student’s work by the tutor and other students should be delivered in that spirit.

For classes longer than one day regular reading and writing exercises will be set for completion at home to set deadlines.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

Pens and writing paper. You are welcome to bring a laptop or tablet to use during in-class writing exercises if you feel it will help you.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

You can progress to Ending your novel or, if you feel ready to submit your work for rigorous constructive feedback, you can move on to Advanced fiction writing workshop.

Our Craft Focus series is also available to writers who wish to focus on an isolated element of fiction writing craft. We offer short intensive courses in developing character, plot, setting, point of view, and more. See our website or contact the department for advice on how you can develop a programme of fiction writing study.

All students are invited to join us at Late Lines, our regular performance night for City Lit writers. Students are also encouraged to submit their work to Between the Lines, our annual anthology of creative writing. For the latest news, courses and events, stay in touch with the Department on Facebook and Twitter.

General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details


Customer Reviews 10 item(s)

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Reviews below are by students who have attended this course, regardless of the course teacher. Please be aware you may not be booking onto a course with the same teacher.

If you have begun writing a novel, but are at that point where you could use a friendly, critical environment, where you get useful feedback on your work - join this course. We had a great group, everyone took their editing and writing homework seriously, which meant the class was really enjoyable and we moved forward together. Am sad it's over!
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Review by AC / (Posted on 17/07/2019)
The course helped me to solve problems in my writing that I’d been struggling with for ages. The tutor was great, offering really constructive and insightful feedback and suggestions. A really motivating course, I feel a lot more confident about my writing now.
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Review by Abby / (Posted on 14/07/2019)
It is not easy! It's challenging on lots of levels - not just working hard in the classroom but outside too
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Review by Janet M / (Posted on 06/07/2019)
very stimulating
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Review by Anonymous / (Posted on 24/06/2019)
Don't expect to have anything handed to you - you do all the work!
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Review by Anonymous / (Posted on 07/12/2018)
The City Lit Developing Your Novel course was excellent. Both novice and experienced writers looking to improve their writing skills would benefit from taking it. I would highly recommend.
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Review by Anonymous / (Posted on 06/12/2018)
This is a useful course but I think how much it will help you, will depend how far you have actually got with your novel. The main focus of the course is to review your own and other writers' work - you get two chances to present a 2,000 word section of your novel in a term plus opportunities for short pieces. This is good for honing your editorial skills. There are also some useful exercises earlier on in the term. The tutor encourages the class to say what they like and don't like about each piece so nobody's piece is savaged. One thing to bear in mind that it is only a 1 term course, if you sign on for another term, you will get a completely new set of people, next term.
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Review by ET / (Posted on 10/09/2018)
I have attended two terms of this course. It is a good course and I really enjoyed it but I really think that people who have written all or at least a fair chunk of their novel will find it most useful.

As mentioned, the emphasis is very much on the reading and reviewing of the other students' work. This does help to improve your critical skills but you do need to allow time out of class to read three or four written presentations each week before the next class. These are emailed round each week.

You also have the chance to have two presentations of around 2,00 words twice in the term and opportunities for 'open mic' when you can bring short, one or two pages, in on other occasions to be reviewed on the spot. Jonathan is very good at making sure that this is not too painful for the presenter, that students mention both what they like and what they don't like. He also provides a short written review of your presentations.

Also, this class is for one term only. Another student who signed on for a second term was most put out to discover that there were nearly all new people, the following term. This does have the disadvantage that you lose the people who were familiar with your draft and have to start again with a new set but it is clearly set out in the prospectus.
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Review by QuietLurker / (Posted on 10/09/2018)
This is a very fruitful course for writers who want to examine the basic tools of novel writing in an informed and informal atmosphere: it introduces the student into a new approach and bristles with useful tips, positive criticism, endless encouragement and a common sense of purpose.
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Review by ChrisP / (Posted on 10/09/2018)
I have attended this course several times. The tutor gives really useful nuggets of information. People get most out of it when they have at least started their novel, it's not a good course for people with no experience as it is a workshop format with very little didactic teaching. We mostly learn by critiquing each other's work and from the tutor's comments.
Course Rating
Review by Scribbler / (Posted on 10/09/2018)
Tutor Biographies
Jonathan Barnes

Jonathan Barnes is the author of three novels. He writes regularly for the Times Literary Supplement and the Literary Review and has contributed to the Arts pages of The Lancet. He is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Kingston University. He is also the author of several full-cast audio dramas from Big Finish Productions, featuring characters from Sherlock Holmes, Frankenstein and Doctor Who.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.

Book your place

Course Code: HW278

Please choose a course date 

Mon, day, 13 Jan - 23 Mar '20

Duration: 11 sessions (over 11 weeks)

Full fee: £209.00
Senior fee: £209.00
Concession: £84.00

Or call to enrol: 020 7831 7831

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Any questions?
or call 020 7492 2717

Please note: we offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. For more information visit our online Help Center. You can also visit the Information, Advice and Guidance drop-in service, open from 12 – 6.45, Monday to Friday.