Kickstart Your Novel Kickstart Your Novel Kickstart Your Novel

Kickstart Your Novel

Ready to finally throw yourself into writing your novel? This course will give you the structure, propulsion, community and technical knowledge to get the best possible start.


Starting out

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12 weeks
  • Start Date
  • Time
  • Flexible (see Course Schedule)

Places available


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Always wanted to write a novel? Start here

How do we ignite the spark of a story to fire up a fully-realised novel? What are the key decisions we need to consider when writing long form prose fiction? This course will dive into story-telling possibilities and explore the ‘big picture’ questions all novelists need to know, equipping writers with extensive knowledge of novel writing techniques and the confidence to get that book started.

You will finish the course with a compelling opening chapter that signposts the onward direction of travel in the world of their story, plus a practical ‘road map’ to achieve their individual goal.

Is this the right course for me?

This twelve-week online course is designed for those who have always wanted to write a novel but weren’t sure how to begin, as well as for writers more experienced with long-form prose fiction looking to get a new novel off the ground or re-invigorate their novel ideas.

This course makes a good next step from our Beginners’ Fiction course, or as preparation for Writing a Novel.

With individual tutorials at the start and end of the course, discussions with your tutor and fellow students in lively forums, stacks of writing prompts and reading activities, plus a Q&A with a guest novelist, this course will help you find and shape ideas for your novel, and get a novel-length project off the starting blocks.

    The course lasts for twelve weeks. Each session will open on a Monday.

Course Programme

Session 1

8 July – 14 July

Ideas: What’s your story? ...

Session 2

15 July – 21 July

Genre: What kind of novel could th...

Session 3

22 July – 28 July

Character: Who’s in the cast? ...

See remaining sessions

Course Programme

Kickstart Your Novel

Session 1

8 July – 14 July

Ideas: What’s your story?

Get to know your tutor and fellow writers, discovering story ideas and possibilities. We’ll explore how to grow plots and add complexity, fanning the spark of ideas into flames without losing the magic of possibility along the way.

An individual tutorial with your tutor will provide tailored support in getting your story started.

Session 2

15 July – 21 July

Genre: What kind of novel could this be?

Dive into the expectations and opportunities of different genres in fiction, test-drive storytelling options and find the right fit for your novel.

Session 3

22 July – 28 July

Character: Who’s in the cast?

We’ll cast major and minor players, determining their roles in the story, their needs and wants, plus you’ll gaze into the future to consider how you want the reader to feel about your characters by the end.

Session 4

29 July – 4 August

Plot: What might happen in this novel?

Focusing on the major events, we’ll get to grips with causality and connectivity, finding a direction of travel towards The End.

Session 5

5 August – 11 August

Plot: What’s the plan?

Novel shapes and strategies: finding order in the chaos of possibility. Plus, to plan or not to plan?

Session 6

12 August – 18 August

Reading and Writing Week

Get that novel moving! Extended writing exercises to put into practice the techniques we’ve explored so far.

Session 7

19 August – 25 August

Point of View: Whose story is it?

If every character is a hero in their own story, how do novelists decide whose head and heart the reader enters, and who remains a mystery? We’ll explore ways of managing viewpoint, narration and distance so you can tell your story in the most compelling way.

Session 8

26 August – 1 September

World-building and Setting: Where are we and where might we go?

With compass in hand and curiosity at the ready, we’ll map the terrain of your story world to discover its impact on your characters and plot.

Session 9

2 September – 8 September

Narrative Time: When are we?

Pinning down the timeframe of a novel helps writers shape plot and drama. We’ll decide if we’re on the clock or enjoying a languid summer, haunted by a troubled past or racing for a bright future.

Session 10

9 September – 15 September

Research: What do I need to find out?

Factual research can add depth to fiction in a myriad of ways, enriching character, plot and the world of the story. We’ll explore strategies for discovery and how to engage with research creatively.

Session 11

16 September – 22 September

Opening Pages: How do I begin?

How do novelists ground readers in the world of their story and hook their attention at the same time? What makes for an effective novel opening? Find the way in that works for your story.

Featuring a Q&A with a guest novelist.

Session 12

23 September – 29 September

And We’re Off!

Craft an opening chapter that acts as an invitation to the world of your story, one that will draw readers in and – crucially – keep them reading. You’ll devise an individual ‘road map’ to plan the onward journey for this novel and get that full draft written.

A final individual tutorial with your tutor will reflect on key learning during the course, next steps, and how to take the book forward.


Marcel Theroux

Marcel Theroux is the award winning author of six novels: A Blow to the Heart, A Stranger in the Earth, The Paperchase (winner...

More About This Tutor
Marcel Theroux

Frequently Asked Questions

What level do I need to be at to take this course?

This course is described as ‘improving’ and its focus is on honing your existing fiction skills and adding to your knowledge of the craft. This means you don’t need to have any experience writing a novel – and you don’t need to have started yours yet – but you will need to have an idea (or several ideas) for one you’d like to write. If you have already started writing your novel, that’s okay too – although if you feel you’re at a more advanced stage in the process, you could consider Writing a Novel instead.

How much time do I need to commit to this course?

We’d usually recommend setting aside five to seven hours per week for this course. If you have more time to spare for your own writing, that’s a bonus!

Browse the Reading Room

From author interviews and writing tips to creative writing exercises and reading lists, we've got everything you need to get started – and to keep going.

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