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A novel is a wild beast.

Left to its own devices, it will grow large and unwieldy until your sentences become nothing more than a tangle of plots, your characters all start to sound the same, and your original vision has been twisted out of recognition.

Or worse: your novel, left neglected for months, withers to almost nothing. It didn’t have a chance to grow because you never had the courage to feed it – and now you’re scared it’s going to bite.

You’ve been writing this novel for years – and everyone knows it.

You’re pretty sure they secretly don’t think you can finish it. A part of you thinks they might be right. You either can’t bring yourself to work on it enough to complete a full draft, or you’re constantly rewriting, never quite satisfied.

You know you need a compelling hook. You know you need unforgettable characters. You know you need a three-act structure.

It’s putting it all together that’s the hard part.

It might seem like published authors write novel after novel on their antique typewriters, typing with one hand while sipping languidly from a glass of red wine, laughing in delight at the pure brilliance of their prose. But of course they don’t. (They’d spill the wine, for a start.)

They just know what they’re doing.

They’ve learned how to tame the beast that is the novel-in-progress.

And you can too.

Welcome to Conquer Your Novel

A tutored 8-week online novel writing course for developing novelists who want to stop dreaming – and start doing.

Learn what goes into writing a publishable novel … at a fraction of the cost of an MA while STILL getting personal feedback from an industry professional.

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‘I learned a lot in such a short space of time. The course was brilliant. Thank you so much, Sophie, for running this.’ — Sean Adams

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‘Fantastic! Loved it and I am glad I did it … The feedback I received for my assignments gave me the confidence I needed to pursue my writing career and the support you gave me was brilliant.’ – Cathryn Jones

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I found the modules very engaging and of great value. I can’t imagine there is a course as accessible and practical available elsewhere!’ – Charles Maclean

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‘I really enjoyed the course and learned a lot. I have taken a few courses but I feel this has been the most useful and I am sure I will be referring back to the modules for a long time to come. The feedback was excellent, the right mix of encouragement and criticism. Great course that I have already recommended to others.’ – Shirley Whiteside

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‘Thoroughly enjoyed it. Can’t tell you how much I learned! … You made a big subject more manageable and easier to understand … I know I will come back to my notes time and time again.’ – Victoria Woodside

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‘[T]he feedback was great … It is easy to read a book and do nothing about it. Because there were deadlines to meet and the hand-outs gave clear instructions, examples and concise commentary, I got a lot out of the course.’ – Ruby Lord

Developing novelists – this is for you

  • You’ve been writing for at least a few years
  • You’ve read plenty of books on how to write
  • You find it difficult finishing what you’ve started
  • You never feel satisfied with your final drafts

You’ve been driven by the passion of writing for a while, but now you want to underpin your creativity with some solid theory and develop a novel writing method that’s right for you. You want something in between an £8.99 book on how to write and a £4,000 creative writing degree. Oh, and you don’t want it to be full of stuffy old examples and jargon so thick you could stand a spoon in it.

Sharpen those pencils. You’re about to graduate from intermediary to pro.

Who it’s not for: This course isn’t for people completely new to novel writing or those who don’t have a basic understanding of writing theory. We’ll be talking at an intermediate level about things like scene construction, point-of-view and narrative arcs, so if you’re unfamiliar with these terms, I recommend reading lots of books on writing craft instead.

How the course works

Weekly PDF module + assignment + workbook

Every week I’ll email you the course materials and an assignment. Part of your assignment will be to fill out your workbook. By the end of the course, this workbook will act as an overview of all the most important decisions you’ve made about your novel, which will help you develop your personal writing and redrafting strategy.

Weekly assignments will normally involve you submitting an extract from your novel-in-progress that you’ve either written from scratch for the course or have revised based on what you’ve learned.

You’ll have one week to email me your work, and I’ll provide you with tailored feedback by the end of the following week. Working through the materials and completing the assignments shouldn’t take you more than a couple of hours per week.

What you’ll achieve

By the end of the course, you’ll have developed a plan of action so you know exactly how to complete a publishable draft of your novel. Additionally, I’ll send you a personalised report on the best ways I think you can improve your writing.

Oh, and you’ll also get a super-spiffy certificate you can print out and frame, show your friends, or carry around with you as an awesome conversation starter. *Cough*

Community forum

On top of that, you’ll also have access to a private forum throughout the course. Here, you can discuss the course content and other writerly topics with your fellow students (and alumni) and provide feedback on each other’s work. (Don’t be daunted – I’ll teach you how to how. Both giving and receiving peer feedback is such a great way to learn.)

Course syllabus: What you’ll learn

Module 1: In the Know

Why novels go wrong (and what to do about it)

You will learn:

  • How systems, plans and creativity work together, not against each other, to make the task of novel writing easier
  • Which of the five main issues is stopping you from finishing your book – and how to use this knowledge to your advantage
  • How to build on the strengths and tackle the weaknesses of your writing personality

Module 2: Thinking and Planning Effectively

Set yourself up for success

You will learn:

  • How to get your writing done – and stop guilt and procrastination in their tracks
  • How to expand your imagination and test your ideas so you can work with the irresistibly good ones
  • How answering some very simple questions will help bring some essential clarity to your novel-in-progress

Module 3: Characters, Dialogue and Setting

The life and soul of your story

You will learn:

  • How to make your characters feel authentic and interesting, and why this is so darn important
  • When to use dialogue and why, and how to make it sizzle with voice
  • How to create vivid, purposeful setting that acts as more than just backdrop to your story

Module 4: Essential Elements – Story, Plot and Narrative Thrust

Making sure you’re writing a novel people will actually want to read

You will learn:

  • How to understand if you actually have a story … or just a random string of thoughts and events
  • What to do to make the reader want to turn the page – then the next, and the next, right to the end
  • How to write within the boundaries of reader expectation – then break those expectations in the right way

Module 5: Narrative Style and Point of View

Small decisions, big impact

You will learn:

  • The crucial differences between author, narrator and viewpoint character
  • The components that go into creating a narrative style
  • How to choose the right point of view for your novel and handle it with purpose and strategy to create a cracking good read

Module 6: Scenes and Summary

A simple way to build (or rebuild) your narrative

You will learn:

  • How to write in a way that untangles your ideas and builds a plot so you don’t feel overwhelmed
  • How to move your story forward with momentum, in both a logical and emotionally charged way
  • How to create compelling scenes that add up to a narrative that feels rich and complex

Module 7: Detail and Richness

Making your story a vivid, unique experience

You will learn:

  • How to add uniqueness and flair to your descriptions to create a truly immersive experience for your readers
  • How to avoid the dangers of static descriptions that send readers to sleep
  • How to craft sentences that zing with voice, meaning and power

Module 8: Redrafting and Reading Like a Writer

Finalising your draft, and how to keep learning

You will learn:

  • How to put all your new-found knowledge into action in a way that won’t cripple you with overwhelm
  • Strategies for redrafting until you’re left with a final manuscript you love
  • How to read in a way that helps you become a continuously better writer

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About your course leader, Sophie Playle

I’m a qualified professional editor with an English Literature with Creative Writing BA from UEA and a Creative Writing MA from Royal Holloway, University of London. I’ve also worked in-house for the largest book publisher in the world (Pearson), offered consultancy to Penguin, and run literary publication Inkspill Magazine. I’m a published writer, too, and was shortlisted for the 2012 Escalator Literary Prize for Fiction.

FAQ

What if I don’t have time?

If you want to be a successful writer, you have to learn to prioritise your writing. (Which is actually something we discuss how to do in the course!) The modules will be released on a weekly basis and are designed to be engaging and digestible. You’ll need to set aside a couple of hours per week to work through the materials and complete the assignment.

Do you offer a money-back guarantee?

I do indeedy. If you’re not happy with the course for whatever reason, I’ll offer you a full refund. You can request a refund up to 14 days after the course has started. Because I’m nice like that.

Is this course only for writers who have never completed or published a novel?

Nope. You may already be a published or self-published writer, but perhaps you’re struggling with a particular novel or with understanding and honing your personal writing method. This course will help you, too.

The course fee is in pounds. Is this just for UK writers?

Nope! This is for writers from all nationalities. Payment is accepted through PayPal, and they’ll convert the fee into your local currency for you.

Uh-oh. I but don’t have a PayPal account.

No worries. You actually don’t need an account with PayPal to use it. You can make one-off purchases with them using your credit card.

Will there be cake?

If by ‘cake’ you mean ‘a course helping you get your novel to a publishable standard’ then, yes. Seriously, though, cake is an important part of the novel-writing process and I highly recommend you get some.

Stop fighting your novel.

START SLAYING IT.