The 8 Month Novel

An online creative writing course

Course Fee: £950 if paid in installments /  £900 if paid in full – Get between 5% and 20% off by becoming a Retreat West Author Member. Info here.

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 all the way through
  • 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 publisher.

MONTHS 1 and 2

Weekly emails with exercises 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. See more about the content for these planning weeks in the Start Your Novel Course info.

You’ll get editorial feedback on your novel plan and a 30-minute call to chat through it and and how to move forward and get going with the writing.


Starting the writing. With a goal of completing 7,500 words in the the first writing month (that’s just 250 a day – easy!).  The word count goal goes up in month 4 to 10,000 words in four weeks (only 350 a day!) and then goes up again for months 5 to 7 and you’ll be aiming for 15,000 a month (just 535 a day). If you stick to these word count goals you’ll have a short 62,500 word first draft at the end of the writing months.

You’ll get editorial feedback on 3,000 words each month as you go along.


You do a light edit and then send your complete first draft in to 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 include?

  • Welcome pack
  • Weekly modules and exercises via email to work through
  • A PDF book at the end containing the entire course content
  • 3 x 1-1 sessions by phone or Skype
  • Feedback on your outline and characters before you start and on 3,000 words each month as you go along
  • A full editorial review of your first draft of 62,500 words (normally £350)
  • 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 and paid for within 6 months of the course ending)

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

If you’re ready to go then sign up and pay the course fee through PayPal using the relevant button below then you will be prompted to give your name and email address to complete the purchase process. You will then start receiving the content automatically via email.

You don’t have to have a PayPal account and can pay using a credit or debit card.

PAY IN FULL – £950


Pay in full



4 installments of £237.50 each

Pay 1st installment



If you sign up as a Retreat West Author Member you’ll get a discount of between 5% and 20% on our courses included in your benefits package, as well as whole load of other great stuff to get you writing, learning and submitting more. Get info here.



What writers have said

“Am loving the exercises. They really make me think about the characters as living breathing entities!”

Shola Adewusi

“I’m mega enjoying the course and finding it so helpful. It’s really pertinent and helpful to someone like me who’s never written creatively before.”

Jane Jacks

“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