How to write a novel

Course Dates: 10/08/20 - 14/08/20
Time: 18:00 - 20:00
Location: Online

This course deals with all aspects of novel writing technique and prose style. Ideal for fiction writers about to begin a novel or those with a novel at early draft stage.

This course will be delivered online. For more information please see our guide to online learning.


What is the course about?

This course aims to demystify the art of novel-writing, equipping students with working methods for getting started on their own long form fiction projects.

This is a live online course. For more information please see our guide to online learning.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

Point of view
Narrative drive
The writing life.

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

- draft a strong beginning for your novel
- understand the essentials of plot and structure
- appreciate the significance of archetypes in storytelling
- give and receive critical feedback on your work with sensitivity.

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

The course is aimed at people new to the craft of novel-writing, but interested in making a start. You will need a good grasp of spoken and written English to participate in the course.

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

The sessions will comprise a mixture of themed instruction, exercises and workshopping. There will be homework and additional challenges.

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?

Pen and paper (or digital equivalent).

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

Students will be encouraged to take what they have learned and produced in the course of the term and start work on that novel they’ve always wanted to write! If you feel confident, you can also progress to Developing your novel. Check out our prospectus for further details.

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.


Customer Reviews 3 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.

Excellent introduction to writing a novel with an excellent tutor.
Course Rating
Review by Kay / (Posted on 03/08/2019)
Really helpful, excellent tutor and good format.
Course Rating
Review by DS / (Posted on 02/08/2019)
This was an excellent course. What made it excellent was the quality of the teacher and the fact the students who attended were whittled down to a few very good writers. The tutor is a superb teacher who is both sensitive in his feedback and incredibly insightful. Each week he would set a task to complete which would relate to the novel we were writing. I found all of those tasks hugely enlightening and was very grateful that he wasn't expecting us to keep writing new fiction when we were all focused on getting our novels written. We had several opportunities to submit chunks of our work for feedback and the exercise was always very enlightening. The tutor comes across as gentle but there is great power in his thinking and I found he always got to the heart of the problem presented. As a result, I made a huge amount of progress under his guidance and can't recommend this course enough. One thing I would recommend is checking with the college how they have selected the students. The beginning of the course was a bit unsettled because the range in quality of the students was too huge. This is an issue for City Lit. to monitor, not a fault of the tutor.
Course Rating
Review by Loopygoose / (Posted on 01/07/2018)
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.

This course has now started

Course Code: HW421

Full Mon+Wed+Fri, eve, 10 Aug - 14 Aug '20

Duration: 3 sessions

Full fee: £69.00
Senior fee: £69.00
Concession: £28.00

Call us to check if you can still join the course 020 7492 2717 (depart num)

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.