Start Your Novel In Five Days

Starting out | Fiction
Come with an idea. Leave with the opening pages of your novel – and the inspiration you need to keep going.
PLEASE NOTE: Due to the measures in place to stop the spread of coronavirus, this course will now NOT be taking place in London. Instead, it will be conducted online. Due to this change it will be slightly different to the description below. Get in touch for more information.

For one remarkable week, join acclaimed novelist and renowned writing teacher Kathryn Heyman and her guest, international bestselling author Mark Haddon to give your novel the best possible start. Take part in intensive workshops designed to get you thinking about the main components of any novel – character, setting, voice, plot – and help you dive in to writing. Through a series of structured exercises, reading and discussion, you'll discover how to put everything you've learned into practice.

On Wednesday, Mark Haddon, award-winning novelist and author of the worldwide bestseller The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time will talk about his own processes and approaches, leading you through techniques to find the perfect voice.

Then in the afternoons you'll have the opportunity to stay on and use the inspiring surroundings of Faber & Faber's Bloomsbury spaces for dedicated writing time. And to cap it all, on Friday, legendary agent Jo Unwin will share her views on what makes a great opening and catches a publisher's eye.

21st - 25th September 2020

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Day 1 – Monday 21 September 2020

10–11.30 – Introductions. Why do I write? What do I want to write?

11.30–11.50am – Break

11.50am–1.30pm – What are my themes?How to get a novel started…

1.30–4pm – Writing time

Day 2

10–11.30 – Character: who is my protagonist? Using memory.

11.30–11.50am – Break

11.50am–1.30pm – Subsidiary characters: who are they?

1.30–4pm – Writing time

Day 3, with Mark Haddon

10–11.30 – Voice and Point of View – who is telling the story, and where are they standing?

11.30–11.50am – Break

11.50am–1.30pm – Place & setting; using memory, research and observation.

1.30–4pm – Writing time

Day 4

10–11.30 – The magic of structure; the crucial questions you need to ask; building the scaffold

11.30–11.50am – Break

11.50am–1.30pm – Honing the voice, beginning to edit

1.30–4pm – Writing time

Day 5

10–11.30 – Re-writing and redrafting

11.30–11.50am – Break

11.50am-1.30pm – Keeping going – motivation and planning

1.30–2.30pm – Lunch (not provided)

2.30-4pm – Eye-catching openings: talk and Q&A with Jo Unwin

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Mark Haddon is the author of 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time' and two other...


Kathryn Heyman's sixth novel Storm and Grace, a riveting portrait of desire and obsession set in...

The course was terrific. It was well pitched and nicely structured over a full week.
  • Student

"There's no point staring at a blank page waiting for inspiration to strike - to get your creative muscles working you need to start writing, reviewing and sharing your work."

Helen Shipman