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Writing a novel is hard work and a long-term commitment. It’s hard to do it alone so this 8-month online creative writing course will help to take you from that initial idea to a complete first draft of your novel. It combines elements of a traditional creative writing course with 1-1 mentoring and detailed editorial feedback.

Unlike academic creative writing courses it’s also just about your writing and your novel and there are no essays to write about the art of writing! Whether it’s your first novel or your third, it will help you to:

  • keep on track with your writing goals
  • get feedback every step of the way
  • ensure that you have a complete draft and a plan to move forwards with at the end of the 8 months

You’ll work alone but receive regular guidance, feedback and motivation from Amanda Saint, founder of Retreat West and a novelist, short story writer and features journalist.

What happens on the course?

You’ll have access to an online workspace and course materials that will guide you through turning that idea you’ve got into a novel outline and plot; developing your characters and themes; and writing a first draft.

Every week you’ll also get email prompts and motivation to keep you going as well as the online interaction in the course. Each writing month starts with an online module to read through and exercises to do to find your way into your character and stories.

MONTHS 1 and 2

A module with exercises and homework to turn that idea into a novel outline and basic plot, develop your characters, theme and emotional journey, get to know your world, and decide on point of view. This is where you really get to know your story and characters before starting out. Editorial feedback on your novel plan and a 30-minute call to chat through your plan and how to move forward with into the writing months.


Starting the writing. With a goal of completing 7,500 words in four weeks (that’s just 250 a day – easy!). Editorial feedback on 3,000 words at the end of the month.


Continuing the writing. We’re upping the goal to 10,000 words in four weeks (only 350 a day!). Editorial feedback on 3,000 words at the end of the month.


More writing! We’re in the flow now and aiming for 15,000 words in four weeks (535 a day and this is high as it goes!). Editorial feedback on 3,000 words at the end of the month.


And still writing! Another 15,000 words in four weeks and another editorial review of 3,000 words. This month you’ll also have a Skype call with Amanda Saint to talk through progress, ideas and getting to the end.


Writing! Another 15,000 words in 4 weeks. And you now have a complete first draft of 62,500 words to work with.


You send your complete first draft in and receive a full editorial review with feedback and recommendations on how to move forward with the edit. You’ll have a 1-hour call with Amanda Saint to talk through the report and where you go next.

What does it cost?

£1000 – and you’ll get:

  • Welcome pack
  • Access to the 8-month online course space
  • Monthly modules and exercises to work through
  • A pack at the end with the entire course content
  • 3 x 1-1 sessions by phone or Skype
  • Detailed feedback on your outline before you start and on 3,000 words each month as you go along
  • Weekly email prompts, motivation and guidance
  • A full editorial review of your first draft of 62,500 words (normally £400)
  • 30% discount on a full editorial review of your polished draft when it’s time to send it out to agents or self-publish (must be booked within 6 months of the course ending)

You can pay in 5 installments:

  • £400 on booking
  • £150 in Month 1
  • £150 in Month 2
  • £150 in Month 3
  • £150 in Month 4

If you pay in full on booking then you get a discount of £50 so just £950 for the entire course.

If you have any questions before booking then get in touch and ask away!

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Booking T&Cs

  • The deposit is due on booking and is refundable minus £150 admin fee until 2 weeks before the course starts
  • If you pay in full then the fee minus £150 admin fee is refundable until 2 weeks before the course starts
  • Withdrawal from the course after the start date means no refund will be payable
  • If you choose the installment payment plan then late payment of fees will mean your access to the course will be revoked


What other writers have said

“It’s given me some great tools to structure my books, and made me plot more than I’ve ever plotted before.”

Emma Finlayson Palmer

“The character exercises have been an absolute revelation and fab help; not just to do the exercises but revisit the week 1 tasks and the elements you highlighted in your feedback, which was spot on.”

Poppy Peacock

“I’m really enjoying the course. The tasks are spot on and great timing for me.”

Jacqui Stearn