01 October 2015

Why study online?

by Christopher Wakling Course News

We’ll be running the next of our online novel-writing courses in mid-February (applications for which close at midnight on Sunday 28 January), which will be taught by the excellent Lisa O’Donnell.

Having worked with groups of writers in CBC’s London offices over the past few years, I ran the first three-month virtual course before Christmas 2013, with the aim of replicating online exactly what we have done so successfully in the classroom.

Put simply: it worked.

I was fascinated to see how the different elements – teaching, critiquing works-in-progress and industry discussion – translated online.

As with classroom groups, the writers worked hard commenting on each others novel extracts. If anything, the requirement to write down all our thoughts made for more detailed criticism. And, for some, not being able to see the whites of each others eyes made it easier to be more forthright. This element of the course, sustained critical attention on students’ work-in-progress, worked particularly well online.

The round-the-clock element of the course quickly fostered a sense of community among the group. Not everyone was tech-savvy to begin with, but we all soon learnt how to make the most out of the forum. And while it took a little longer to introduce and discuss the different elements of novel-writing online, the lack of a time constraint meant that writers were free to spend longer on homework tasks, reading examples and adding their thoughts to ongoing threads. Being able to look back at these discussion threads – including those in which students grilled the agents of Curtis Brown and Conville & Walsh on all aspects of the writing and publishing process – was a huge benefit, too.

The real excitement for me was the quality and diversity of the writing on the course. I conducted telephone tutorials with writers in France, Switzerland, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand… They and those from all over the UK were united by two things: talent and a preference for studying online. Fourteen students from our London-based courses and three students from the online courses have secured book deals so far. I have no doubt whatsoever that others from our online courses will go on to join them.

Christopher Wakling’s six acclaimed novels include What I Did, The Devil’s Mask and On Cape Three Points. Born in 1970, he read English at Oxford University, then worked as a farm hand, teacher and lawyer, before turning to writing full-time in 2001. As well as writing fiction, Christopher regularly pens travel features for The Independent. He has tutored numerous creative writing courses for Curtis Brown Creative.

For an in-depth course as part of a group of 15 (in which students are selected on the basis of their submission) with a great tutor and participation from our literary agents, apply for:

Six-Month Novel-Writing Course in London with Christopher Wakling (deadline for applications is Sunday 21 January).

Six-Month Online Novel-Writing Course with Lisa O’Donnell (deadline for applications is Sunday 28 January).

For a dedicated online course for those writing for young adults or children as part of a group of 15 (in which students are selected on the basis of their submission), with a top children’s author, apply for: 

Writing YA and Children’s Fiction with Catherine Johnson (deadline for applications is Sunday 4 February).

We are also offering three low-cost ‘foundation’ online courses, featuring tuition from CBC director Anna Davis:

Starting to Write Your Novel (deadline for enrolment is midnight on Mon 5 February).

Write to the End of Your Novel (deadline for enrolment is midnight on Mon 22 January).

Edit & Pitch Your Novel (deadline for enrolment is midnight on Mon 29 January).

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