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Unlock Your Creative Potential: Explore a Free Online Animation Course

Are you fascinated by the world of animation? Do you have a passion for storytelling and creating visually captivating characters? If so, then it’s time to unlock your creative potential and explore a free online animation course. In today’s digital age, learning animation has never been easier or more accessible. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced artist, these courses offer a wealth of knowledge and resources to help you bring your ideas to life.

Why Choose an Online Animation Course?

With the rise of the internet, online learning has become increasingly popular. The convenience and flexibility it offers make it an ideal choice for those looking to learn new skills or enhance existing ones. When it comes to animation, online courses provide several advantages that traditional classes may not be able to offer.

Firstly, online animation courses allow you to learn at your own pace. This means you can fit your studies around your existing commitments, whether that’s work, family, or other personal pursuits. You have the freedom to choose when and where you want to learn.

Secondly, these courses often provide access to industry professionals who are experts in their field. You’ll have the opportunity to receive guidance and feedback from professionals who have worked on major animated films or television shows. This valuable insight can help refine your skills and take your animations to the next level.

Lastly, online animation courses are often more affordable than traditional classes. With no need for physical classrooms or materials, course providers can pass on these cost savings directly to students. This makes it easier for aspiring animators of all backgrounds and budgets to pursue their passion without breaking the bank.

What Can You Expect from a Free Online Animation Course?

So what exactly can you expect when enrolling in a free online animation course? While each course may vary in its curriculum and approach, there are several key components that most reputable courses will cover.

Firstly, you’ll learn the fundamentals of animation, including principles such as timing, squash and stretch, and anticipation. These principles form the building blocks of animation and will help you create believable and dynamic characters.

Next, you’ll delve into the technical aspects of animation. This may include learning how to use industry-standard software such as Adobe Animate or Autodesk Maya. Through hands-on exercises and project work, you’ll gain practical experience in using these tools to bring your ideas to life on screen.

Furthermore, many courses will also cover storytelling techniques specific to animation. You’ll learn about character development, storyboarding, and creating compelling narratives that engage your audience.

Lastly, some online animation courses may provide opportunities for collaboration with fellow students. This can be invaluable for networking purposes and allows you to receive feedback from peers who share a similar passion for animation.

How to Choose the Right Free Online Animation Course

With so many options available, choosing the right free online animation course can seem overwhelming. However, by considering a few key factors, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your goals and learning style.

Firstly, research the course provider’s reputation. Look for reviews or testimonials from past students to gauge their satisfaction with the course content and teaching methods.

Secondly, consider the curriculum offered by each course. Ensure that it covers the specific areas of animation that interest you most. For example, if you’re interested in 3D character animation, look for courses that focus on this particular aspect.

Additionally, check if the course provides any certifications or recognition upon completion. While not essential for all learners, having a recognized qualification can boost your credibility in the industry if you’re looking to pursue a career in animation.

Lastly, take advantage of any free trial periods or introductory lessons offered by online course providers. This will give you a taste of what to expect before committing fully to a particular course.

Unlocking Your Creative Potential

By exploring a free online animation course, you have the opportunity to unlock your creative potential and embark on an exciting journey into the world of animation. Whether you’re looking to pursue a career in the industry or simply want to express your creativity through animated storytelling, these courses provide a solid foundation and invaluable guidance. So don’t wait any longer – start your animation adventure today.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.


curtis brown creative memoir writing course

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Writing Your Memoir – Three Months

Applications, ← back to courses.

Develop your memoir with expert teaching, tutorials and workshops from bestselling memoirist Christie Watson.

Christie Watson

Turn your life experiences into a compelling narrative and hone your writing skills in an inspiring and supportive environment.

Over three months, bestselling author of  The Language of Kindness Christie Watson will teach on key elements of memoir writing, including how to map out your story, create vibrant characters that are true to life and leap off the page, and dramatise scenes to place the reader at the heart of the action.

This will be an intensive and immersive course with weekly teaching sessions on Zoom, during which Christie will lead lively, dynamic discussions as well as workshops. This course runs 6 Sept to 20 Dec 2023.

What does this course give you?

  • Live teaching sessions on Zoom: Christie will welcome the group for a two hour class on Weds evenings. In the first half, she will teach on a variety of topics, including finding your voice, developing a working structure, dramatising material and mastering dialogue.
  • A community of writers: Our selective applications process means that you will be writing your novel in a peer group of 15 students working at a high level. Many of our former students have found their trusted readers with us – and form strong working friendships with classmates which go on long after the course is over.
  • Writing workshops & clinics: Across the course, you'll get two dedicated workshops with your tutor and the group centring on material from your memoir-in-progress, Students will be invited to submit burning questions and narrative issues they’re struggling with ahead of time – and Christie will tackle these in her teaching and respond to common pitfalls.
  • 1-to-1 tutorials: You'll get two 30-minute, one-to-one tutorials with Christie based on 3,000-word extracts from your memoir-in-progress. Use these tutorials to address your specific concerns about your writing.
  • Literary agent and author masterclass: Join a special Zoom session with a top UK literary agent and author, they will talk about writing, editing and the submissions process, drawing on their experience of real-life publication journeys. There will also be an opportunity to ask questions.
  • Synopsis & agent letter advice: We’ll draw on our expertise to give you the vital ingredients needed for a great synopsis and the all-important pitch letter. Individual feedback will come from experienced members of the CBC editorial team and/or a Curtis Brown/C&W literary agent.
  • End of course submission:  All students will be invited to submit the 3,000-word opening from their memoir, plus a synopsis, to be shared with the agent teams at Curtis Brown and C&W. This is not a formal submission but a chance to give the agents a taste of your work at this stage. However, when you are ready to formally submit your memoir to agents from Curtis Brown or C&W – no matter how long after your course has finished – the Curtis Brown Creative team will give you guidance and support with your submission. Full information about this free service is provided during the course.
  • Alumni services: You’ll be given access to a range of exclusive writing services, available only to the alumni of our selective courses, which you’ll be able to access after your course finishes. These services include individual mentoring, editorial reports on your completed memoir, submission reports on your ‘pitch package’ and coaching from experienced practitioners. Read more about the opportunities available to our alumni here .

Course schedule

Please note that precise dates of sessions and details of course speakers are subject to change.


The course fee of £1,800 per student is payable by bank transfer or cheque. Former students of our six-week Writing a Memoir online course will be eligible for a discounted fee of £1,750. Funds must reach our bank account before the course begins. However, if you are unable to pay the full fee upfront, let us know and we can arrange an instalment plan.


Please apply with the first 3,000 words of the memoir you’d like to work on during the course, and a synopsis of no more than a page (both need to be in the same document, as you can only upload ONE file in the application below). Don’t worry too much about the synopsis – we’re just looking for a page that tells us a bit about where your memoir is heading. It doesn’t need to be polished.

The CBC team will select applicants based on the quality of the writing sample provided. The deadline for applications is midnight, end of day Sun 30 Jul , and we will respond to applicants by Thurs 3 Aug .

If you encounter any problems during the application process, or have any more questions about the course, please email [email protected] for assistance.

I found this course to be the most useful I have done over many years. Each component of it was well-targeted and very professional…It was a great vehicle for going more deeply into specific aspects of my work-in-progress.

Christie Watson’s is an award winning, bestselling writer. She has published three memoirs, including  The Language of Kindness: A Nurse’s Story  which was a number one  Sunday Times  bestseller, and two novels, including the Costa First Novel Award-winning  Tiny Sunbirds Far Away . She is Professor of Medical Humanities at UEA.

Photography by Rebecca Reid.

Guest Tutor

Cathy rentzenbrink.

Cathy Rentzenbrink is the author of The Last Act of Love which was a Sunday Times bestseller and was shortlisted for the Wellcome Prize. She followed it with A Manual for Heartache and Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books . Her first novel Everyone Is Still Alive is out now. Her writing guide Write It All Down: How to put your life on the page was published in 2022. Cathy regularly chairs literary events, interviews authors, reviews books and runs creative writing workshops. In previous lives, Cathy worked for Waterstones for ten years, ran the literacy charity Quick Reads, and was Books Editor at The Bookseller .


Join live Q&A sessions with top UK literary agents, authors and publishers.


Week 2 – voice, week 3 – speaker session with author and agent, week 4 – the nuts & bolts of storytelling, week 5 – mapping, week 6 – sensory writing, week 7 – clinic 1, week 8 – people, week 9 – synopsis, week 10 – dialogue and scenes, week 11 – agent letter pitch workshop, week 12 – endings, week 13 – editing, course conclusion & committing: part ii, week 14 – end of course submission.

curtis brown creative memoir writing course

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Curtis Brown Creative review—are its writing courses a good fit for you?

Curtis Brown Creative writing academy has developed actionable, inspiring courses that will benefit both budding writers and experienced wordsmiths

  • Sign up to W&H Newsletter Newsletter

Three photos that represent Curtis Brown Creative on a peach background with floral illustration overlay. The photos are of authors Erin Kelly and Cathy Rentzenbrink and a laptop screen showing the online courses

Curtis Brown Creative courses are well thought out, inspiring and will undoubtedly improve your writing and confidence

Run by a reputable literary and talent agency

Prestigious, experienced teachers

Range of price points and course lengths to suit most

Excellent online user experience

Continued access to the course and materials after completion

Support for technical issues is readily available

Readymade critique group provided

Supportive environment

Tutor feedback costs extra on short courses

Feedback is not given by the named teacher

You'll need to commit at least one day a week to get the most out of the courses

Why you can trust Woman & Home At woman&home we test hundreds of products and would never recommend something that we wouldn't personally buy, use or give as a gift to a loved one. Find out more about how we research and test products.

Kelly Bowerbank

Curtis Brown Creative in numbers

20+ courses available

3 free mentoring schemes

160 major publishing deals for students

£125 starting price point

There are hundreds—if not thousands—of writing courses available, but Curtis Brown Creative's courses are frequently recommended by writers and industry insiders alike.  We road-tested some of their most popular programs to find out what enrolled students can expect to help you decide if the courses are a good fit for you.

Curtis Brown Creative offers a wide portfolio of courses that range from 1 day to 6 months in length. Prices start at an accessible £120, but there are also some fully-funded places available for under-represented writers too. Topics range from the broader novel writing to more specific genres, so chances are whatever your literary ambitions—be they to craft one of the best books of 2022 , or a page-turner good enough to earn accolades like one of the best thrillers or best romance books of the year—there'll be a course that appeals.

Why is Curtis Brown Creative so popular?

Curtis Brown Creative is a writing academy founded in 2011 by the Curtis Brown agency, which represents some of today's most successful writers (we won't bore you with an expansive list but Margaret Atwood, Jojo Moyes, and Marian Keyes are all on their books). 

Since then, more than 160 graduates have secured publishing deals. Former students you will likely recognize from bestselling books lists include Jessie Burton (The Miniaturist), Jane Harper (The Dry), Nicholas Searle (The Good Liar), Kirsty Capes (Careless), and Bonnie Garmus (Lessons In Chemistry).

The most famous course in their stable is the Writing Your Novel course—a selective application course that takes six months. You can complete this in person in London, or online from anywhere. However, the most popular Curtis Brown courses are the short ones, which anyone can complete. They run for an average of six weeks and are delivered by some of the best authors in the business.

The Curtis Brown Creative courses we tested

The woman&home team tested two Curtis Brown writing courses in 2022: the six-week Writing a Memoir course, and the six-week Writing a Psychological Thriller course. 

1. Writing a Memoir

Our expert review:


Reasons to buy, reasons to avoid.

This course was reviewed by Kelly Bowerbank, former editor of womanandhome.com

For years I've had a vague idea for a memoir and empowering feminist book floating around inside my head. I couldn't pin it down though, it felt fleeting. I could see it in my peripheral vision but when I tried to examine it properly it would vanish. Occasionally I'd write a few paragraphs on my phone when the mood struck, but there was no coherence and no direction.

This course appealed because it boldly claimed I'd have at least 3,000 words, a book outline and synopsis in six weeks. For someone who'd scribbled a total of 500 words over a three year period that felt punchy, but exciting.

What I liked about the course

The course was delivered by Cathy Rentzenbrink, through a series of warm and encouraging videos and written exercises. She was authorative but also someone you'd like to go to the pub with with. Her demeanour made it easy to absorb the information. While there was no interaction with her during the programme, the course materials anticipated most of my questions, and some useful examples were provided almost every step of the way which helped get me started on each task.

Writing a memoir can be particularly challenging if you're writing about an experience(s) from a long time ago, which I am. The modules helped me overcome initial stumbling blocks around memory recall, with a series of easy to follow exercises. I learned how to use meaningful objects, music and places to excavate my story. A lot of the writing exercises felt transferable to other types or writing too so I'll keep them to refer to for other projects.

Six weeks doesn't sound like much of a commitment, but if you want to get the most out of the program then you'll need to dedicate at least a day a week to it. I found I enjoyed it so much that my time on the tasks and the forum regularly crept beyond that. I'm a working parent with two kids so I snatched time to do this where I could, on trains, outside gymnastics classes, in the queue at Pret. The mobile friendly platform and forums made it easy to dip in where I had a few spare moments. It also meant it was easy to see when you had comments or feedback, which after weekly submissions were what I lived for!

At the start of the course I was desperate for professional feedback, but I quickly realised that a lot of the value of this course is the emphasis on peer feedback from your fellow students. I gained a lot of knowledge from the course modules, but I learned just as much from reading others work and listening to other peoples thoughts on my work. There was an assortment of people in the group, from journalists to retired grandparents, former teachers to business owners, salsa dancers and everything inbetween. And in that range of backgrounds was where the magic happened. We all started tentatively with our feedback, applying what we had learned carefully and constructively through our own lens and experience, but we found our enthusiasm and grove soon enough. There were 20 or so of us on the course and 13 of us made it into a WhatsApp group after. We chat almost daily and plan to keep the critiquing going. The course was worth it to meet these people, but I also achieved the promised outline, Synopsis and 5,000 words that I was proud of (66% over my goal!).

What I didn't like about the course

Professional reader feedback is given once randomly throughout the course, unless you pay extra. Your assigned reader is an industry expert but not the named tutor. Because it's done randomly you don't have any say on which piece of writing they assess, which some people may find disappointing.

However, given the cost of the course this level of feedback isn't surprising. And I found reading the weekly feedback for the other students, which is shared publically on the forum, really useful. The insights, while specific to the piece they were critiquing, often had lessons that were applicable more broadly within the group. And because the level of engagement and quality of student feedback was high in my group I felt I still got a lot of ideas for how to improve my work.

By the end of the course I had the bit between my teeth and I would have loved to apply to the selective three month memoir writing course. However, a cohort had recently started and the next intake had not been scheduled, that took the wind out of my sails. It would be great it dates for courses students might feed onto were published several months in advance.

Do I recommend this course?

Yes, I loved the course and got a lot out of it. I'd recommend it to anyone with an idea for a memoir who's looking to kick start the creative process or to people wanting to refine an existing project. Personally, I'd definitely complete other Curtis Brown writing courses in future too.

What about the written report and tutorial

For extra fees you can get a 500 word report on your submission and a tutorial.

After you've cranked out several thousand words that doesn't feel like a lot of feedback but it's laser focused, actionable and constructive. It caught blind spots and technical issues that peer feedback missed.

I liked that you could add this as an additional purchase at any point during the course too. Initially I didn't think I'd need it (or want it), but I found that by week five I'd tightened up my idea and structure enough that getting industry feedback was appealing.

If this is a personal passion project you may not feel the need for a professional critique, but if your ambition is to be published, and you can afford it, then I recommend the additional investment in your project.

2. Writing a Psychological Thriller

This course was reviewed by Lauren Hughes, former deputy editor of womanandhome.com

They say that everybody has a book inside them, but I'm not quite sure what it says about me if mine involves obsession, deception and most likely a bloody murder. My escapism of choice is getting lost in the depths of twisty psychological thriller books , so if I was going to turn my hand to fiction, it was always going to be something gritty.

As a journalist with ten years' experience, penning breaking news stories doesn't phase me, nor does crafting a detailed medical explainer or emotive long read. But the thought of writing fiction gives me the chills. The doubts always seem to creep in. Will the dialog sound realistic? Haven't these plot twists been done a thousand times before? How does one ever conceive an original idea? And just how is it possible to keep creativity flowing, writing page after page? I'm sure that these fears are not unique among fiction-writing newbies, but what's the best way to overcome them? In my experience, it's looking them dead in the eye with a six-week intensive course, where you'll share your own work with other aspiring writers. Nail-biting stuff.

Erin Kelly is a powerhouse when it comes to the thriller genre—and this was a definite pull for me when looking at which course to try. While there wasn't any interaction with Erin, it was still a privilege to be able to gain insights into the thinking behind bestsellers like The Poison Tree and He Said/She Said. As a tutor, Erin is engaging and approachable. But, most importantly, her teaching is easy to understand and the key takeaways are always clear. Half the battle with planning and executing any kind of psychological novel is getting to know your characters really, really well. And it was character development where I found Erin's insights invaluable. 

Making a foray into fiction writing is definitely out of my comfort zone. I approached the course with much trepidation. The format really helped with this, as breaking the process down into weekly modules encouraged me to think of each aspect of writing a novel, so it felt much less overwhelming. Some of the modules were easier than others. For example, I was full of ideas for the Hook and Premise tasks, but really struggled to think up a satisfying conclusion when it came to the Endings and Next Steps module. This will be individual to each writer, of course, but the real plus is that, due to the variety of tasks, you're likely to discover your strengths and weaknesses quickly. 

I've jotted down thoughts on potential plots since I was a teenager, but have never previously had the time or dedication to sit down and actually write a chapter. Fear of failing also crept in here. But a course like this allows you to develop your characters and ideas so well that by the time you do sit down to write, the words will practically leap out onto the page. Now, I'm not saying that writers block didn't still rear its frustrating head from time to time, but I found spending more time on plot and character development gave me the confidence to actually start writing—a first hurdle that I've always fallen at before. I always thought novel writing would be much more linear, but armed with these new thought processes I can see how—with a lot of imagination and dedication—a fully-fledged work of fiction could come take shape from my garbled plot ideas. 

It's worth adding that the course is exceptionally good value, considering not only the course material itself, but also the opportunity it brings to share ideas and copy with other aspiring writers. Though a downside might be that professional feedback is limited and sporadic, you do really come to value the insights of your peers and sharing the journey together creates a space that feels liberated of hierarchy or judgement. I think I would have been quaking in my boots to hear's Erin Kelly feedback on my early work. 

With a high-profile course tutor like Erin, some course attendees may expect some level of interaction, however I felt that through the video sessions I was still able to gain a great insight into Erin's own thought processes for novel writing and the peer interaction meant the course didn't feel solitary.

This is not a criticism of the course itself, but more just an observation that if you're trying to juggle full-time work with a six-week programme, I'd think about whether you can take some time off weekly to dedicate to the course (a day should suffice), or save enrolment for a time in your life where you have more spare time. Trying to manage the workload during evenings and weekends is certainly possible, but having a bit of extra headspace weekly means you can really commit and get the most out of each module. 

A resounding yes. For someone like me who's a keen—but nervous—aspiring novelist, it's a great entry-level programme that will change the way you approach writing. For me, novel writing became far less intimidating and I'd be keen to try other courses that are geared towards refining an existing novel, once I've honed my craft further with the skills developed during the past six weeks. 

Curtis Brown Creative's most popular courses

This is just a snapshot of the most popular courses that Curtis Brown Creative runs. If your plans are to replicate the success of the Bridgerton books or to try your hand at writing one of the best historical fiction novels, or a crime or sci-fi series it's worth looking at the full list of courses . You may find something tailored to your particular genre.

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Kelly is the former Digital  Editor of womanandhome.com. She joined the brand in 2015 and left in March 2022. With over 15 years of experience in digital and print journalism, Kelly has worked for some of the UK's most prestigious publishers, including The Guardian, Shortlist Media, Time Inc, and now Future Publishing. She specializes in women's lifestyle and has been nominated for two PPA awards throughout her career. In the past, she had provided expert advice and comment for the BBC and Channel 4 about fashion and feminism. Kelly also guest lectures at the London College of Fashion about digital fashion media. 

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Curtis Brown Creative cover

Curtis Brown Creative

Head Office

Cunard House London SW1Y 4LR United Kingdom

Book, Newspaper and Magazine publishing

We're the creative writing school affiliated to the major UK literary and talent agency. Curtis Brown Creative has been helping writers tell their stories for over 12 years. We launched in 2011 with our flagship London-based Writing Your Novel courses with the aim of finding talented writers, and helping them to get the best out of their writing and to develop their novels to their full potential. 

We put together a teaching team of acclaimed authors to work with our students, and we brought in literary agents from Curtis Brown and its sister agency C&W to demystify the publishing industry and empower our students to pitch their novels with confidence.

Fast forward a decade later and we now run lots of courses online as well as in London. We still run our three- and six-month courses for small groups of talented writers who are selected from a much larger group of applicants to work on their novels – and in 2020 we also unveiled an elite course on Writing an Original TV Drama Serial, with input from Curtis Brown’s film/TV agents.

But we also now offer a growing range of short online courses at a lower price point – covering not only novel writing , but also lots of other genres and forms, such as short stories , memoir writing , and writing for children. These shorter courses are designed to help you explore your potential and acquire new writing skills, no matter your current level. There’s no applications process for these courses – you can just enrol for the course of your choice, such as our four-week online Creative Writing for Beginners course, to start your writing journey with us.

We're proud to say that over the past few years, many of our alumni have gained deals with major publishers. Some of our former students have written international bestsellers, others have won prizes and yet more have gained representation with literary agents and are working to prepare their novels for submission to publishers. And whether they end up getting agents and publishers or not, it’s wonderful to see a great many groups of our students continuing to support each other’s writing years after their courses are over. The act of writing is an end in and of itself.

We are also dedicated to amplifying under-represented voices. In 2020, supported by the Curtis Brown and C&W agencies, we launched the Breakthrough Writers’ Programme , offering creative writing courses, mentoring , and scholarships for writers facing barriers to entry when it comes to taking our courses and/or getting published. All opportunities are free for the writers taking part.

We are passionate about finding and developing talent, and that hasn’t changed one jot from where we began ten years ago. These days, CBC is better equipped than ever to help talented writers: We now have two former commissioning editors from major publishing houses on our close-knit team, plus a former senior book publicist – adding further layers of industry experience to our unique literary agent-led academy.      

Not everyone who comes on one of our courses will end up with an agent and a publisher (no one said this was going to be easy). But we can help you get the best out of your writing. You’re intrinsically alone as a writer, but you don’t have to be lonely.

Organisation size

1-10 employees

Wanted occupations

Editorial / Writing / Storytelling

Frequently asked questions

Do i have to apply online or can i send in a paper copy of my cv down, get in touch.

CBC Team  picture

curtis brown creative memoir writing course

Cathy Rentzenbrink

I absolutely love tutoring and mentoring and find it the greatest honour to work with other people and help them wrestle their stories on to the page.

I especially love residential courses where there is plenty of time to get into everything in depth and for much growth to happen in a supportive and nurturing atmosphere.

Here’s what I have coming up:

Kick-start your writing year: online

Monday 8th January – Friday 12th January 2024

A friendly and stimulating writing week to get 2024 off to a creative start and fill us up with motivation and energy. 

Commune with your book: online

A work-in-progress week 

Monday 5th February – Friday 9th February 2024

A supportive, friendly week to enable you to get some work done 

Curtis Brown Creative online memoir writing course. This is a six-week online course that runs two or three times a year. Please contact CBC for information.

My Sunday Sessions – a monthly injection of creativity, energy and enthusiasm. 

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  • LIBRARY 2018

The Enduring Lessons that I Learnt at the Curtis Brown Creative Novel-Writing Course

It’s nearly ten years since I attended the novel-writing course at Curtis Brown Creative, and it’s not too bold a claim to say that those three short months changed the course of my professional life forever – helping me to subsequently find an agent and a publisher, and now have five published novels to my name.

To begin with, I should say that I had studied writing before. In fact, I already had a Masters degree in Creative Writing – so what was it specifically about this course that worked for me, and what are the enduring lessons that still inform my writing today? The following are not writing tips. Instead, they are more general thoughts about an approach to writing – gleaned from working with the CBC tutors, meeting fellow students and listening to the published authors who came along to speak to us.

They are about an attitude to the work, an understanding of the realities of publishing, and the undervalued, but oh-so-important quality of perseverance. I hope they resonate!

Firstly, I learnt how to finish a novel. This was a particular problem for me to solve, as I already had a drawer stuffed with unfinished works – novels that started with energy and promise, but which petered out at around thirty thousand words. The course gave me a practical solution to this problem – to plan my novels in advance.

To accept that I couldn’t just sit down at my desk and expect a novel to drift into my head. (Yes, I know there are some authors who write this way… but it didn’t work for me.) The idea that this gift is universal to all writers is very seductive, but accepting that I hadn’t been duly blessed was a huge game changer. 

I learnt how to work with constructive criticism. One of the most rewarding parts of the course was sharing my embryonic novel with a group of talented writers, and listening to their thoughts and advice. But I also learnt how to deal with this information. How to categorise and weigh the feedback, so that it energised my work, and not the opposite.

You see, the problem to opening out an early draft to a lot of readers, is that you run the risk of being faced with a myriad of differing opinions. Feedback is essential, but too much can be paralysing – leaving the writer confused and even demoralised. I write historical crime fiction – so I was careful to pay the most attention to the advice that came from the writers who appeared to understand the conventions and subtleties of this genre.

Armed with this experience, I embraced the concept of working with ‘trusted early readers’ – a practice that I continue to this day. I now have three trusted readers. They are the only people to see early drafts – even before a book goes to my editor. These readers are completely honest with me (sometimes brutally so) But this is still an essential stage for any of my books. I am getting a truthful reaction to my work – from the sort of reader who would go into a bookshop and freely buy the type of book that I’m writing. 

You soon learn that you can’t please every reader with your writing (and nor should you seek to.) But equally, it is important to identify the readers whom you do want to please. 

I learnt to be professional and persevere. As part of the course, we had presentations from a selection of published authors, including Jojo Moyes, Jane Harris and Harriet Evans, and the quality that really struck me, (apart from their obvious literary talent, of course) was their formidable work ethic.

Inspired by this, I changed my own approach to my writing – an approach that has endured since those days. I have a daily routine, regardless of my other responsibilities. (If you really want to write, you will find space for it in your life, no matter how busy you are.) I have a dedicated place to work, where I run the least risk of being disturbed. (Doesn’t have to be an office. Could be a corner of a room.) Thirdly, I find it very useful to have a daily word count target, and to keep to it.

Sometimes I write more than my target – when the creativity is flowing. But, more importantly, I never write less. Sometimes this can mean writing when I don’t feel like it – but it’s important to keep going. Inspiration always returns. I find that a novel quickly grows with this technique. And, as a bonus, it’s the perfect solution to writer’s block!

I leant to read more. It often surprises me how little some would-be authors actually read. Luckily, I was always a keen reader, but my issue was that I tended to stay in my safe channel – choosing a mixture of the classics, intermixed with the odd work of crime fiction, or the latest Booker prize winner. I now challenge myself to read much widely. To pick up books that I wouldn’t have chosen ten years ago. Apart from being highly enjoyable (in the main), it also stretches and challenges my creativity.  

I learnt to keep learning. I loved everything about the Curtis Brown course – but most particularly I just loved immersing myself in the amazing, mysterious, frustrating, inspiring world of writing. I knew that I wanted to continue this experience whenever possible.

Writing is an art, but there’s also a craft to it. As a writer, you should strive to be a master of this craft. I try to keep my skills up to date in a number of ways – by reading books on the topic, but also by regularly attending workshops and writer presentations.

Or by listening to podcasts, such as Writers Routine – which gives an intriguing and revealing insight into the working practices of other writers. I am endlessly fascinated with how other writers work – as there is no universal model.  And equally, there are no universal lessons about writing. But these were my thoughts, prompted by attending an excellent course ten years ago, and then honed over the intervening years.  I hope they were helpful!

Learn more about Curtis Brown Creative and their writing courses here:  https://www.curtisbrowncreative.co.uk/creative-writing-courses/

About the Author:  S. D.  Sykes  is the author of  Plague Land, The Butcher Bird, City of Masks , and  The Bone Fire , all available from Pegasus Crime. She received an M.A. in Writing from Sheffield Hallam University, and she attended the novel writing course at Curtis Brown Creative, where she was inspired to write  Plague Land . She lives in England.

Find out more about her on her website http://www.sdsykes.co.uk/


A somershill manor mystery.

In 1349, Oswald, the third son of the de Lacy family, was an eighteen-year-old novice monk at Kintham Abbey. Sent to collect herbs from the forest, Oswald comes across a terrified village girl. Frenzied with fear, she runs headlong into a swollen river. Oswald pulls her broken and bruised body from the water and returns her to the local village, only to discover that several other women have disappeared. A heinous killer is at work, but because all of the missing women come from impoverished families without influence, nobody seems to care.

Oswald vows to find this killer himself—but as plague approaches, his beloved tutor Brother Peter insists they must stay inside the monastery. He turns instead to the women of the village for help, and particularly the enigmatic and beautiful Maud Woodstock—a woman who provokes strong emotions in Oswald.

As he closes in on the killer, Oswald makes a discovery that is so utterly shocking that it threatens to destroy him and his family. Even as plague rages across England and death is at every door, Oswald must kill or be killed. And the discovery will be a secret that haunts him for the rest of his life.

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That sounds like a life- and career-changing course! You shared some great insights that you gleaned from it. I tend to avoid having people read my work when it’s still in the writing stages, because that makes me lose momentum. Kudos to you for being able to do that! Also, THE GOOD DEATH sounds very interesting.

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