"I feel lucky to have taken this course. The tutorials and exercises were excellent; the mentoring truly outstanding. Craig and Amanda are supportive, insightful and genuinely focused on making their students better writers. If you are serious about the craft of writing novels, I can't recommend it highly enough."
We’re ambitious for your work and we will ask that you are ambitious too. We will take you seriously as writers and we will ask that you do the same. We can’t promise you the Booker Prize, but we can promise that if you put in the hours on this course and apply what you learn, you’ll emerge a significantly better writer.
"My approach to writing an entire book is more time efficient. The prose itself is more contemporary and the voice more direct. When Amanda told me what was working in my novel and what I needed to change, she was right every time. Her editing transformed my work into the best writing I have ever done. Can you ask for anything more?"
Mary Kathleen Mehuron
We designed this course specifically to take you from wherever your writing is at right now to a completed, professionally edited draft.
But our aim is not just to get one book out of you - because we focus on the underlying principles of storytelling which can transform inspirations into polished, meaningful forms again and again, our aim is to make you better writers, to teach you how to edit your own work, and to give you a career. What you’ll learn can be applied to all the novels you’ll write in the future.
Designed and delivered by Amanda Saint and CM Taylor, it’s for writers of all genres in adult and young adult fiction who want to understand the fundamentals of storytelling and learn how to write tighter, more compelling drafts with memorable characters.
"For years writing a novel was a pipe-dream for me. Then I joined Craig and Amanda's course and 9 months later I had a manuscript and am talking to agents. If you've had a book idea in your head and not known how to progress it - do the course - you will only look forwards."
As a writer
Amanda's debut novel, As If I Were A River, was longlisted for the Guardian Not The Booker Prize, a NetGalley Top 10 Book of the Month and a Book Magnet Blog Top 20 Book of 2016. Her second novel, Remember Tomorrow, published in March 2019 to critical acclaim. Amanda’s flash fictions have been widely published; longlisted in the Mslexia Flash Fiction Competition, Fish Flash Fiction Prize, and Ink Tears Short Story Prize; shortlisted for the Flash 500; and won the Editor’s Choice Prize at 101 Words. Her collection, Flashes of Colour, is publishing in 2020, and she is now working on a novella-in-flash.
As a teacher and publishing professional
Amanda is the founder of, commissioning editor and publisher at the award-winning Retreat West Books (Winner: Most Innovative Publisher 2020 Saboteur Awards), which publishes novels, memoirs and short fiction. She has been designing and teaching online courses, and live workshops, for many years and has worked as an editor on hundreds of manuscripts.
As a writer
Craig's novels Premiership Psycho (Corsair, 2011) and Group of Death (Corsair, 2012) form two-thirds of a satirical trilogy described as 'Brilliant' by The Sun, and 'Horribly entertaining' by The Mirror. They've been optioned for TV by Plan B, with Craig writing the pilot. He's been nominated for the British Science Fiction book of the year, while his comedy drama Staying On (Duckworth, 2018) has been described as 'a trademark sweet-and-sour Mike Leigh film in novel form'. He co-wrote the thriller film Writers Retreat which was premiered at the Sitges International Film Festival and he continues to be commissioned to write scripts for TV and film.
As a teacher and publishing professional
Craig works as a freelance editor of fiction for a variety of publishers, and is a Senior Lecturer at the Oxford International Centre for Publishing. He has taught hundreds of creative writers, in one to one development settings, as well as in classes and workshops, including at the Manchester Children’s Book Festival and at the British Library. His particular enthusiasm and passion is for helping writers develop their understanding of the underlying structures of narrative art.
"The exercises within this course are excellent; the tutors supportive and knowledgable; and I highly recommend it. It cemented my own good intentions to finish writing a book to the best of my ability, and gave me the structure and the benefit of experience that I didn’t have working on my own."
We kick the course off with an online video hello so you can meet your tutors and your fellow students; and we end the course with an online video event attended by agents and publishers, where you pitch your work and they give you feedback.
Across the year you’ll get 33 tutorials across 8 modules covering the key aspects of the art of novel writing.
These modules lead you through either writing or revising a draft, building on each element as you go with exercises designed to form a part of your draft, rather than being separate from your novel.
The course starts in September with breaks for Christmas, Easter and the Summer holidays. There's a dedicated writing week between each module where you can focus on getting words on the page.
Access tutorials at the time that suits you best and write when it works for you.
Monthly deadlines for submitting work to your personal mentor help those who might struggle with accountability or motivation.
Mentoring and feedback
Starting with an intro session with your personal mentor, your personal work programme for the course will be tailored specifically to your circumstances and level of development.
Subsequently, you’ll receive five 1-1 mentoring sessions focussed on your monthly submission, via phone or video call.
Mentoring will last at least 30 minutes but will take as long as is needed to communicate the key developmental points in relation to your submitted work.
On completing your draft you’ll have agreed with your mentor the most useful and appropriate form for your professional editorial feedback to take.
This might include:
- full editorial feedback from your mentor, either verbally, face to face, written, or a combination, whatever feels right for you;
- editorial feedback from an alternative specialist writer, editor or agent operating in your genre;
- or a line edit with comments made directly on your manuscript (don't worry you'll know what a line edit is by then!)
Chat with your course mates and share work for peer-to-peer feedback. The forum also hosts live Q&As for each module so you can question the tutors about what you’ve been learning.
You’ll learn how to put together a professional submission package and get the chance to pitch your idea to literary agents and indie publishers during an online event at the end of the course.
"Amanda helped me to understand the pillars of theme, characterisation and setting, reminding me to use these in pushing the story forwards and getting that all important first draft completed. As a new writer, or even an experienced one, self-doubt can really hamper the progress you make. Having an experienced mentor, who’s been there before you and can pull you out of the mud when things get tough, is priceless."
The Writer's Toolkit - Part One / Tutor: CM TaylorFREE PREVIEW
The Writer's Toolkit - Part Two / Tutor: CM Taylor
The Easy 10-Point Plot / Tutor: Amanda SaintFREE PREVIEW
Discovering Your Characters and World-Building / Tutor: Amanda SaintFREE PREVIEW
If you are making payment in full, the balance is due on booking to reserve your space.
If you are using the instalment plan a 10% non-refundable deposit is due on booking to reserve your space. Payments for the balance of the course fee will commence in August 2020 with the last payment due in April 2021.
If your application is accepted but you do not make payment then, your space on the course is not confirmed and you could potentially lose it as other applicants are approved and the course fills up.
If you are unable to start the course, you can withdraw up to 60 days prior to the start date. If you have paid in full, you will receive a full refund minus the 10% non-refundable deposit. If you have signed up on the instalment plan, your deposit will be retained as our administration fee.
For withdrawals less than 60 days prior to the course start date, you will receive a refund only if we can re-sell the space. If you have paid in full, and we re-sell your space, you will receive a full refund minus the 10% non-refundable deposit. If you have signed up on the instalment plan, your deposit will be retained as our administration fee and any additional instalments paid will be returned if we can re-sell your space.
We cannot accept withdrawals after the course start date, and any instalment payments due remain mandatory.