Developing your novel

Course Dates: 13/05/19 - 15/07/19
Time: 12:30 - 14:30
Location: KS - Keeley Street
Tutor: Natasha Bell

Have you started work on your novel? This course is ideal if you are an experienced creative writer and want to explore the principles of novel writing 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 work on 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."

The Tutor: Natasha Bell is a novelist and creative nonfiction writer. She holds an MA in Creative and Life Writing from Goldsmiths and has taught Creative Writing to both adults and children. She’s published a memoir, as well as articles and stories in a variety of magazines and journals. Her debut novel, Exhibit Alexandra, was published in 2018 by Penguin.

City Lit reserves the right to change course tutors from those advertised in this outline. In line with our refund policy we are unable to grant a refund on the grounds of a change of tutor.

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
- Improvein your plotting and editing skills
- Produce a significant portion of a novel
- Identify a clear way forwards in terms of how to complete the 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 started on a novel.

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'll be invited to bring in extracts from and drafts of your work and/or to generate new scenes and to read these to the group in turn with a view to developing the writing.

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. An e-mail address that you would be willing to share with this rest of the group would be helpful.

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

You may be interested in the How to write novels workshop, or our Advanced critical workshop for creative writers.

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 6 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.

Don't expect to have anything handed to you - you do all the work!
Course Rating
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.
Course Rating
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.
Course Rating
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.
Course Rating
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.
Course Rating
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)

Book your place

Course Code: HW207

Mon, day, 13 May - 15 Jul '19

Duration: 9 sessions (over 10 weeks)

Full fee: £179.00
Senior fee: £179.00
Concession: £72.00

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.