Start Your Novel

An online creative writing course

Work Alone Course Fee: £245 with feedback / £165 without feedback

Group Course Fee (work with up to 12 other writers and get weekly input and feedback from the course tutor): £385

Get between 5% and 35% off by becoming a Retreat West Author Member. Info here.

The 6-week online Start Your Novel Course will help you get a novel outline and plan in place and help you get to know your story, characters, themes, and world. It can be used to write a first draft from scratch or revise a first draft you already have written.

Course tutor

Amanda Saint is a novelist, short writer and the founder of Retreat West. She is also the commissioning editor and publisher at Retreat West Books. Her debut novel, As If I Were A River, was a NetGalley Top 10 Book of the Month, longlisted for the Guardian Not The Booker Prize 2016, and a Book Magnet Blog Top 20 Book of 2016. Her new novel, Remember Tomorrow, is publishing in February 2019. Amanda designs and teaches many online courses and teaches live workshops at literary festivals and writing retreats. She has helped many writers to develop their work, the majority of whom have gone on to get book deals.


Course content

The course content is designed to get you going with your novel or revise a first draft. Over the 6 weeks you will learn tools and techniques to help you get to know your story better.

You receive the content weekly via email.

  • Week 1: The easy 10-point plot – exercises and readings to guide you through making a plan and 10-point plot.
  • Week 2: Creating complex characters – exercises and readings to help you get to know your main character and supporting cast and find all of their voices to create character that readers relate to and remember.
  • Week 3: Characters in relationships – exercises and readings to reveal how your characters behave with each other and how they react in different situations.
  • Week 4: Character transformation through conflict – exercises and readings to get the external and internal conflicts that will drive your story forward in place.
  • Week 5: Creating a world – exercises and readings to help you create the world your characters live in and use your descriptive writing to develop character, theme and plot.
  • Week 6: Story structure and your plot – exercises and readings to map your 10-point plot against story structure and get a working synopsis in place.
At the end of the course you get feedback on your 10-point plot, synopsis and story idea from course creator, Amanda Saint.



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 for the work alone course.

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

For the group course you will receive the content via email and also have an online forum where you can discuss the work and get ongoing feedback from your course mates and the course tutor. The group course dates for 2019 are:

  • 31st January to 14th March (10 spaces left)
  • 24th June to 5th August (bookings open in February)


Start Your Novel Course – Work Alone With Feedback £245

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Start Your Novel Course – Work Alone Without Feedback £165

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Start Your Novel Course – Group Start January £385

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If you sign up as a Retreat West Author Member you’ll get a discount of between 5% and 35% 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.