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Novel Writing and Longer Works Short Course

Key information

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Delivery of this module will be online due to government-issued guidelines during the Covid-19 pandemic and may be made available face-to-face subject to Public Health England recommendations. Please submit your application and, once reviewed by the module leader, you will receive more specific information about the online delivery of your module and assessments.

Aimed at anyone dreaming of writing their first novel, this course provides a solid foundation for developing and writing longer pieces of fiction.

Why choose this course?

Led by an award-winning writer, the Novel Writing short course covers essential novel writing techniques and constructs, giving you the skills and confidence to work on your own novel.

This course will enable you to identify and analyse your ideas for a novel, define the techniques involved in longer fiction and help you understand the construction of a sustained piece of fiction.

By the end of the Novel Writing course, you will feel confident enough to complete the first chapter of your novel, and have the momentum and motivation to continue with your writing.

Delivered over 10 weeks in the evening, you will be taken through practical exercises around each area of novel writing - all taught from our central London location.

Course overview

This Novel Writing and Longer Works short evening course focuses on the skills required to sustain a work of longer fiction.

Through exercises, lectures, selected reading and workshop discussion, you will develop an understanding of essential novel writing techniques:

  • finding the centre (generating and developing ideas)
  • openings
  • description/evoking time and place
  • character
  • narrative development
  • plotting
  • narration
  • voice

The second half of the course will include workshop/peer review of students' own writing.

  • “ Martin is an excellent teacher. The meetings are varied, interesting and engaging. I'm learning! ”

    Elizabeth Boyd

    Former student

  • “ Excellent course. ”

    Helen Marsden

    Former student

  • “ Martin was a fantastic tutor, and I really enjoyed the course. ”

    Nick Weaser

    Former student

  • “ I really enjoyed the course and felt it was invaluable for setting my novel off in the right direction. ”

    Joanne Harris

    Former student

  • “ I found the course immensely helpful - the weekly reading materials provided by Martin were insightful and encouraging, and helped with not only developing my own voice, but also with getting a feel for how I'd write and develop my own story. The discussions and feedback sessions were educational, and it was truly great to be able to bounce ideas off Martin and fellow classmates in a controlled yet open and welcoming environment. I'm very happy I took this class, and would recommend to anyone considering creative writing. ”

    Botond Butuza

    Former student

What will I learn?

What will I learn?

Over the course of 10 weekly evening classes on the Novel Writing and Longer Works short course you will learn:

  • To make a solid start on that novel you’ve been thinking about, or to develop work you’ve started;
  • To gain a greater understanding of the themes and techniques inherent in excellent fiction;
  • To give and receive feedback on work in progress in a workshop setting;
  • To assemble and make best use of the tools that are needed to complete a sustained piece of fiction.

The short course will also cover:

  • Finding the centre (generating/developing ideas);
  • Opening chapters;
  • Characterisation;
  • Narrative development;
  • Plotting;
  • Description/evoking time and place;
  • Modes of narration;
  • Voice;
  • Writing a synopsis / planning document;
  • Submitting an extract to a deadline;
  • Reading as a writer;
  • Self-editing; analysing your own and others’ work.



Prerequisite knowledge

Some writing experience and an idea for a novel/novella/long short story.

English requirements

Applicants must be fluent in written and spoken English.

Teaching & assessment

Teaching & assessment

Informal assessment will take place through group discussion, class room activities, and questions and answers sessions as guided by your tutor.

Recommended reading

Recommended reading

  • Mittelmark, H. and Newman, S, (2009)How Not To Write A Novel. London: Penguin
  • The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook (annual). London: A & C Black, or
  • Barry, T., ed. (annual) The Writers' Handbook. London: Macmillan
  • Mullan J. (12 Oct 2006) How Novels Work. OUP Oxford

Tutor information

  • Martin Ouvry

    Martin is a writer, teacher, editor and musician. His writing has won a number of awards including a final year prize for outstanding achievement (UEA BA), the Alumni Association Prize for Fiction (UEA MA), a Hawthornden Fellowship, a Wingate Scholarship in literature and two Arts Council grants.

    Martin’s short fiction has been published in various anthologies and magazines, among them Tell Tales, Adrenalin, New Writing, A Little Nest of Pedagogues (in dual English and Chinese texts), The London Magazine and Esquire. His story ‘Forget-Me-Not’ was longlisted for BBC Radio 4’s Opening Lines. His play, Shakespeare: the Puppet Show, ran throughout the V&A’s Shakespeare Festival in April 2014. He has written three novels and is at work on a fourth.

    Martin has taught creative writing for the Arts Council England and at UEA. He currently teaches at City, University of London, with the British Council, and on the MA/MFA programme at Kingston University. He has worked extensively with The Literary Consultancy and The Writers' Workshop and has reviewed books for the Sunday Times, the FT and the Observer. He is writing a novel with the generous support of Arts Council England.

Next steps

This Writers' Workshop is a practical journey for writers. Learn how to revise and edit your fiction, learn more about publishing and more. …