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Autumn Writing Courses with Roz and Sophie

1. How to Write a Gripping Commercial Novel
6 weeks - 15th Sept to 20th Oct 2021 (Wednesdays, 7 - 8.30pm, live online)

2. Submitting to Agents 
4 weeks - 8th to 29th November 2021 (Mondays, 7 - 8.30pm, live online)


Two courses packed with secrets and surprising insights, from two friendly and helpful commercial authors published by Big Five publishers.

Sophie Books.jpg

Roz and Sophie first met on a writers' course in Derby. It was a chance to learn and share our writing efforts and the evenings often concluded in the pub... Sadly we can't offer that now, under lockdown, but we can offer an online teaching experience which we hope will help your writing ambitions and allow you to get to know a small group of like-minded writers just like we did.

We both went on to publish with HarperCollins, Roz writing her acclaimed DI Meg Dalton crime detective series ('The Devil's Dice', short-listed for the CWA Debut Dagger Award, 'Dead Man's Daughter' and 'Cut To The Bone'), Sophie winning the Bath Novel Award 2017 and publishing the bestsellers 'Cuckoo' and 'Magpie'. For more info on Sophie, see We're both experienced workshop leaders and would love to share some of what we've learned, encourage new writers and offer what we hope is a practical insight into the business of writing.

The course programs are set out below. Places are strictly limited to ensure a manageable group. To book, email Sophie at with the heading "Course Booking".


You don't need a Zoom account to participate but you will need access to the internet and we'll email you the link to the weekly online meetings.

How to Write a Gripping Commercial Novel - £235 

6 weeks - 15th Sept to 20th Oct 2021 (Wednesdays, 7 - 8.30pm, live online)

Week 1 - An irresistible Idea 

  • Finding the commercial potential in your novel, so it grabs agents and publishers and won't let go!

  • Creating your perfect plotting strategy, whether planning or 'pantsing' or a bit of both!

  • Understanding plot and character arcs to give your novel depth and meaning.

Week 2 - Unputdownable Scenes 

  • Why your characters need goals, motivation and conflict, consequences and escalation in every scene.

  • How to include subtext and irony, and why you must do this.

  • Creating suspense and tension, absolute essentials for a commercial novel! 

Week 3 - Using the power of your mind to succeed as a writer

  • Why some writing goals help and others hinder.

  • Why failure is good and how to use it! 

  • Overcoming 'writer's block'

  • Common ways you may be hijacking your progress. 


Writing Dazzling Dialogue 

  • Top dialogue mistakes.

  • Making dialogue authentic and exciting to read.

Week 4 - Editing to Perfection 

  • Understanding the different types of editing (Structural editing, copy editing, line editing, proof reading...)

  • Story, Story, Story - vital in today's market! 

  • Editing your novel to make it shine. 

  • Motivation, theme, character deepening, voice, atmosphere, setting and mood, world-building and other essentials to consider during edits. 

Week 5 - Character and Point of View 

  • Why your main character MUST be compelling (not necessarily likeable), and surprising ways to achieve this.

  • Why everyone goes on about 'voice', and how to get it into your writing.

  • Point of View - why subtle problems here get so many writers rejected within one page. And most don't even realise they have a problem! 

Week 6 - Industry Essentials and What's Next?

  • Overview of the industry and key players - agents, publishers, imprints, etc.

  • Financial realities. We'll help you understand the confusing world of advances, royalties (and how they differ between different publishers and even different imprints within the same publisher), TV options, joint accounting, foreign rights, and anything else you'd like to ask us! 

  • Knowing your market, genre and the different publishing formats. Hardback, paperback, eBook, audio, and how traditional publishing differs from self-publishing (the mechanics of self publishing is not covered on this course). 

  • Sales, distribution networks, the bestseller lists, reviews, readers... and the importance of pitch.

  • Your agent submission package.

  • Books to read, conferences, competitions, one-to-ones, critiquing websites, where to go next.

  • Q and A.

Quotes from Previous Participants:

"The best writing course I have been on." Lucy Charlesworth

"Great value for money. Packed full with detailed information and fascinating insights... Technically excellent." Steve Warner

"The notes were quite the best of any course I have ever done. Highly recommended... excellent teaching, full of insights, practical tips and infectious enthusiasm for their craft." Tamara Henriques

"The content was excellent... really practical with ideas that have already changed the emphasis I place on different parts of the writing process... has saved me lots of time and wasted effort and helped me get more of my story down." Caroline Hardwick

"Really enjoyed the course from beginning to end... the evenings have been terrific... well organised and presented, followed up by fantastic handouts... you have both been very generous with your time, thoughts and experiences." Kevin Walker

Submitting to Agents - £175

4 weeks - 8th to 29th November 2021 (Mondays, 7 - 8.30pm, live online).


This course can be booked separately, or in conjunction with the "Gripping Fiction" course. It will cover:

- Week 1: Pitch and covering letter

- Week 2: Synopsis

- Week 3: Opening Chapters

- Week 4: How to find agents to submit to, and Q&A

The aim is to take you through the practicalities of writing the different segments of the submission package each week - so be prepared to do some homework, and by the end of the course, you should have a full draft of your submission package!

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