Now Edit It: Alumni Arvon Trip 2019

Advanced | Fiction
Writing a Novel is over. Now what?

It's a story as old as Faber Academy itself: the course ends too soon; you turn to each other and say, "Well? How do we keep this going?"

This intensive week-long course is a brilliant answer to that question. With 13 fellow Writing a Novel alumni, head out to Arvon's beautiful residential retreat at Totleigh Barton for a week of editing, editing, editing and more editing with distinguished fiction editor Jenny Parrott and the acclaimed Jake Arnott, plus a certain star turn on the Wednesday night...

Arvon courses are famous for their intensity: they force you into focus, but also into discussion. You get a lot done. This inaugural collaboration between Faber Academy and Arvon aims to bring all the white heat of an Arvon course and combine it with the practicality and rigour of an Academy course.

The fee of £825 includes tuition, 5 nights' accommodation in a single room at the centre (Monday night to Saturday morning), plus food and non-alcoholic drinks. Please note that travel to and from the centre is not included. You'll be expected to arrange that among yourselves, though the Arvon centre are happy to advise, and to help arranging taxis from Exeter St Davids.

Click on the plus below for more information about the week itself, or contact us.

25th - 30th March 2019

Availability: In stock

4 Places

The teaching day runs 10–1pm, followed by independent writing time in the afternoon, then an evening activity.

Monday Evening

Note: aim to arrive at Exeter St Davids for 3.30pm, to get to Totleigh by 4.30pm for a cream tea!

Introductions: The tutors give an outline of the week ahead, each participant shares where they are with their writing, what they hope to get out of the course, what they are finding most difficult at the moment and what they might want to address during the week.


1st session, 10–11.20am: Story & narrative structure with Jake Arnott.

2nd session, 11.40am–1pm: Digging into your manuscript with Jenny Parrott.

To cover:
  • How to work out what you want in the long-term (agent/publisher, to self publish or to start a new book; whether to stay in the same genre etc)
  • The process of reviewing where you are at currently (finished book, unfinished book, needing more research etc);
  • What sort of book have you written (literary, commercial, crime, children’s, satire, up-lit etc);
  • Assessing your weaknesses as a writer; and your strengths (how to read your book in as dispassionate a way as possible, do you know your market etc)
  • Evening: Tutors do readings from our own work


    1st session, 10–11.20am: Character hot-seat with Jake.

    2nd session, 11.40am–1pm: Dialogue and Characterisation on the page with Jenny.

    Discussion on:

  • Have you take the most effective decisions re your structure in the technical sense (chapters or no chapters; dividing narrative into parts; narrative pace; etc)
  • Pros and cons of different writing techniques (tenses, POVs, stream of consciousness, multiple narrators etc)
  • Evening: Guest speaker – Richard Skinner


    1st session, 10–11.20am: Awareness of how readers approach your work with Jenny.

    2nd session, 11.40am–1pm: Why are writing this novel? What are the stakes, both personal & in terms of the marketplace? with Jake

    Discussion on:

  • Authorial voice
  • Giving the reader what they need
  • Information dumps
  • Putting things right
  • Friday

    1st session, 10–11.20am: Endings; revising & rewriting; how to edit as a writer. With Jake.

    2nd session, 11.40am–1pm: New beginnings; how to improve your chances. With Jenny.

    Student-defined discussion: what do you need more of? The man focus of this to be on getting market-fit (or in a place where your next book takes on board what you have already learnt), including:

  • The pros and cons of beta readers
  • What an agent and publisher will need to see, and how you can make this work to your advantage
  • Why agents and editors take the decisions they do, and mistakes to avoid
  • The pros and cons of getting a large deal, or a small one
  • Deals one might expect (Uk and comm, World English, World all languages, various rights deals) – and the implications this can have once you are signed with a publisher (ie, understanding it’s a business, working with different editors)
  • What it’s like to be professionally edited (and the difference between agent and editor editing)
  • What it is like to be published (reviews, bloggers, interviews, festivals, prizes)
  • What it means if agents/publishers say no
  • Pros and cons of self publishing (marketing, exploiting rights etc)
  • Open submissions
  • Dealing with success, and criticism
  • The mindset for making writing a career (ie, a writer thinking of themselves as a business)
  • Evening: Class reads from their own work

    Saturday – everyone home


    So what's it like at Arvon? Really?

    The following is taken from Arvon's website. They tell it best.

    What happens on an Arvon course? You’ll live at one of our writing centres with group of up to 13 other writers, and working with two tutors.

    Our writing centres have a comfortable, friendly and informal atmosphere – they’re not hotels, they are your home for a week. You can find out more about the accommodation and food here.

    Most Arvon weeks run from Monday afternoon to Saturday morning. You’ll typically have a workshop each morning, and free time for writing and one-to-one tutorials in the afternoons. In the evenings we’ll host readings by the tutors and guest, and on the last night you’ll share your work with the group as part of a relaxed and friendly celebration.

    Each morning the tutors lead workshops to help you explore writing ideas, forms and techniques.

    Afternoons are your time for writing and one-to-one tutorials. You’ll have two tutorials (at least 20 minutes long), one with each tutor during the week, to consider your writing in depth.

    On Monday participants arrive between 4.30pm in time for a cream tea. After dinner the tutors give a general introduction to the week.

    On Tuesday evening the tutors will read from their own work.

    On Wednesday the guest speaker joins the group for an evening reading or talk, with questions and answers afterwards.

    On Friday evening the group gets together to share and celebrate their work.

    The week comes to a close on Saturday morning, after breakfast.

    Want more information on course structure? Take a look at our FAQs and information on choosing a course that’s right for you, or contact us to ask any questions you have.

    Please note that the location information on the left of this page is currently incorrect. This course takes place at Arvon's Totleigh Barton residential centre, not at the Faber offices. For more information on Totleigh Barton, click here.

    Click here for more information +


    Jake Arnott is the author of seven novels including The Long Firm, which was adapted as a BAFTA award-winning TV series for BBC2. His late...


    Editor and writer Jenny Parrott has worked at Bloomsbury, HarperCollins and Little, Brown Book Group. Currently she runs the Point Blank literary crim...


    Richard Skinner is a novelist, poet and critic. His most recent book, The Mirror, was described as ‘beautifully written . . . immersive . ....



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