Friday 10 February 2017

Curtis Brown - Start Writing Your Novel

I've been subscribed to Curtis Brown's newsletter for a number of years and lusted over doing a course with them for a long time but never could afford it.  As an early birthday present, I got my husband to treat me.
Who is it for?

This introductory course is an excellent opportunity to get a feel of how the online courses run and see if it is right with you with out the expense or commitment of a full time course.

It is run by Curtis Brown a leading Literacy Agency and they share tips on what they are looking for and what makes a submission stand out.  You will cringe when they tell you the things writers repeatedly do that fails to impress.

Who shouldn't apply?

If you want feedback by the tutor on your writing, you will need to pay for one of the longer courses.

How is it run?

The course is easy to follow with support material in the format of a video and an article based on the transcript.  Following on from the support material there is an activity and the resources you need to accompany it.  Each week is split into two subject areas, with a related exercise for each.

This gives you the opportunity to consider what you have learnt and put it into practice.  You post your work to the forum for other students to comment on.  In return, you should comment on their work.

What does it cover?

The course covers an introduction to subjects to help you get started writing your novel e.g. reading as a writer, sources of inspiration and structuring your novel.  For such a short course, it cover a lot!
They are simple subjects that every writer should know but it never hurts to reinforce your foundations.   One of the subjects was the importance of getting into the habit of writing and making time for it - This is so obvious but a constant challenge for me and I valued the advice to overcome the obstacles.

During the course we were encouraged to come up with an idea for a story, the exercises got us to consider the pitch, plotting and planning, starting point, time, POV, character development, first page and chapter.  The exercises will challenge you to rethink the way you write and turn ideas I their head. 

What did I get out of it?

It got me to rethink the opening chapter of my novel, Angel.  It is now a prologue, written in 2nd POV and narrated by the demon - I never would have dared attempt to do this.  I also can see the plot holes in this novel before getting two involved in it and having a massive restructure later on. 

In addition, I took many of the points into consideration whilst editing Drift and transformed the first three chapters into something I feel confident in - a new feeling (as I'm incredibly critical of my work). 

Any problems?

The only issue I had with the course was that I assumed we had a week to complete the assignments.  About week 5, I discovered we were meant to post by Sunday so there was ample time for our work to be read.

In addition, I often wasn't able to comment on other peoples work and nobody ever commented on mine.  I could see other students commenting on each others work without any issue so I'm not sure why I could not.

Would I recommend it?

Overall, I would recommend this course. 

This post is my personal opinion and experience on the course - I have not received any incentive to write my review other than that I enjoy being informative and helpful to other writers.