The Novel Creator

A Mentored Course


The Novel Creator is a year-long, online course featuring 1-1 mentoring with an experienced, knowledgeable and supportive mentor. There is a lower-cost, un-mentored version too.

Designed to take you from an idea to a complete first draft, it can also be used to revise an existing draft.

Mentored Spaces are by application only.

The course also includes a year’s membership to our friendly and lively online community. This gives you access to all of our community only articles, monthly masterclasses and workshops, live Zoom feedback sessions, and Zoom writing sessions. There’s also loads of writers hanging out there chatting about all things reading and writing!

Course Fees

Fully Mentored Version (15 spaces available)

Includes 24/7 access to the online course materials; eight 1-1 Zoom or phone mentoring sessions; eight live Zoom Q&A sessions; feedback on your novel plot outline and on 21,000 words as you write the novel; a detailed editorial report on the completed draft; feedback Zoom session with literary agents and publishers; dedicated course forum; and membership to our friendly, motivational and supportive online community.

Pay in Full
Pay in Installments
£200 a month for 12 months

Non-Mentored Version (10 spaces available)

Includes 24/7 access to the online course materials; eight live Zoom Q&A sessions; dedicated course forum; and membership to our friendly, motivational and supportive online community.

Pay in Full
Pay in Instalments
£92 a month for 12 months


The novel John Lutz wrote with us, London in Black, was shortlisted for the CWA Dagger Debut Award, which is one of the most prestigious crime fiction prizes there is! Congratulations John!

“I feel lucky to have taken this course. The tutorials and exercises were excellent; the mentoring truly outstanding. If you are serious about the craft of writing novels, I can’t recommend it highly enough.” 

John Lutz

What’s included in the mentored version of the course?

Discover all the tools novelists use in 33 tutorials accessible 24/7 on your laptop, tablet and phone in our dedicated course space with community forum.

Get insightful and tailored 1-1 advice from your mentor during six Zoom mentoring sessions. Plus each module has a live Q&A with all three mentors.

Get a full manuscript review at the end of course with detailed notes on what’s working, what’s not and ideas on how you can take it to the next level.

You’ll have a dedicated course forum, access to our friendly online community, and a writing buddy for sharing work for feedback.

Get advice, guidance and ideas for launching your career as an author; along with tips on how to connect with readers and get your work noticed.

Get feedback on your work from literary agents and indie publishers at the end of course online event to get feedback and make industry connections.

The non-mentored version gets all of the above apart from the 1-1 mentoring sessions with feedback on extracts, the full manuscript editorial report and the agent/publisher session.

Our promise to you

We’re ambitious for your work and we will ask that you are ambitious too. We will take you seriously as writers and we will ask that you do the same. We can’t promise you the Booker Prize, but we can promise that if you put in the hours on this course and apply what you learn, you’ll emerge a significantly better writer.

“My approach to writing an entire book is more time efficient. The prose itself is more contemporary and the voice more direct. When Amanda told me what was working in my novel and what I needed to change, she was right every time. Her editing transformed my work into the best writing I have ever done. Can you ask for anything more?”

Mary Kathleen Mehuron

Why do this course?

We designed this course specifically to take you from wherever your writing is at right now to a completed, professionally reviewed draft. It’s the course we wish we’d had when we first started writing.

But our aim is not just to get one book out of you – because we focus on the underlying principles of storytelling which can transform inspirations into polished, meaningful forms again and again, our aim is to make you better writers, to teach you how to edit your own work, and to give you a writing career. What you’ll learn can be applied to all the novels you’ll write in the future.

Designed and delivered by Amanda Saint and C.M. Taylor, with additional mentoring support from Isabel Costello, this course is for writers of all genres in adult and young adult fiction who want to understand the fundamentals of storytelling and learn how to write tighter, more compelling drafts with memorable characters. 

There are 8 modules in total, containing 33 tutorials, covering the key aspects of the art of novel writing, with writing exercises designed to form a part of your draft rather than being separate from your novel; editing and pitching your work; and launching and maintaining your career as an author.


  1. Getting Started: Planning, Plotting and Defining your Novel
  2. Pulling Together Plot, Character, Theme & Structure
  3. Keeping Your Reader Hooked
  4. Bringing Your Characters Alive
  5. Building Relationships
  6. World Building
  7. Editing Your Novel
  8. Preparing for Submission and Publication

For years writing a novel was a pipe-dream for me. Then I joined this course and 9 months later I had a manuscript and was talking to agents. If you’ve had a book idea in your head and not known how to progress it – do the course – you will only look forwards.” 

Naomi Lockwood

Your mentors

Amanda Saint

As a writer 

Amanda is the author of two novels, As If I Were A River (2016), which was longlisted for the Guardian Not The Booker Prize, a NetGalley Top 10 Book of the Month and a Book Magnet Blog Top 20 Book of 2016 and Remember Tomorrow (2019). Amanda’s short stories have been widely published, listed and placed in many international prizes, and nominated for Best Small Fiction 2023. She just completed a novella-in-flash, ihas almost finished a flash fiction collection, and is now working on her third novel. She also writes The Mindful Writer and The Tao of Storytelling.

As a teacher and publishing professional

From 2018-23, Amanda published 24 books through the award-winning Retreat West Books (Winner: Most Innovative Publisher 2020 Saboteur Awards), a mix of novels, memoirs and short fiction anthologies and collections. She has been designing and teaching online courses, and live workshops, for many years and has worked as an editor on hundreds of manuscripts. She is passionate about helping writers get to the heart of their characters to create memorable narrators that really come alive for the reader.

C.M. Taylor

As a writer

Craig’s novels Premiership Psycho (Corsair, 2011) and Group of Death (Corsair, 2012) form two-thirds of a satirical trilogy described as ‘Brilliant’ by The Sun, and ‘Horribly entertaining’ by The Mirror. They’ve been optioned for TV by Plan B, with Craig writing the pilot. He’s been nominated for the British Science Fiction book of the year, while his comedy drama Staying On (Duckworth, 2018) has been described as ‘a trademark sweet-and-sour Mike Leigh film in novel form’. He co-wrote the thriller film Writers Retreat which was premiered at the Sitges International Film Festival and he continues to be commissioned to write scripts for TV and film.

As a teacher and publishing professional

Craig works as a freelance editor of fiction for a variety of publishers, and is a Senior Lecturer at the Oxford International Centre for Publishing. He has taught hundreds of creative writers, in one to one development settings, as well as in classes and workshops, including at the Manchester Children’s Book Festival and at the British Library. His particular enthusiasm and passion is for helping writers develop their understanding of the underlying structures of narrative art.

Isabel Costello

As a writer

Isabel is the author of novels Paris Mon Amour, a WH Smith Travel Book of Summer 2017, and Scent (Muswell Press, 2021), which was longlisted for the Polari Prize. Her writing experience to date includes digital only, self-publishing and traditional publishing, and she is a passionate supporter of independent presses and bookshops. Her short fiction has been widely published and includes the title story in Retreat West charity anthology The Word for Freedom. Isabel’s home territory as writer and reader is the place where literary and commercial (and especially women’s) fiction overlap.

As a teacher and publishing professional

Isabel is an experienced creative writing mentor, workshop leader and book doctor, and having run the Literary Sofa blog for over ten years she has a wide and up-to-date overview of the publishing market. She is also a co-founder of the Resilience for Writers project with psychologist Voula Tsoflias and has a special interest in helping writers to stay motivated and reach their personal goals. Isabel has worked with Mslexia, Jericho Writers, The Place to Write, Word Factory and many individual writers.

The Novel Creator course really opened up the world of novel writing to me. I wanted to write a novel, I had an idea, but where to start? The step-by-step nature of the course, broke down what seemed like a massive task into manageable chunks. Having a mentor, guiding me, gave me the confidence and conviction to keep writing. I thoroughly recommend the Retreat West course, it’s brilliant!.”

Kristina Thornton

Course overview

The course starts in September with breaks for Christmas, Easter and the Summer holidays. There’s a dedicated writing week between each module where you can focus on getting words on the page.

Access tutorials at the time that suits you best and write when it works for you.

Monthly deadlines for submitting work to your personal mentor help those who might struggle with accountability or motivation.

Mentoring and feedback

Starting with an intro session with your mentor, your personal work programme for the course will be tailored specifically to your circumstances and level of development.

Subsequently, you’ll receive five 1-1 mentoring sessions focussed on your monthly submission, via phone or video call. 

Mentoring will last at least 30 minutes but will take as long as is needed to communicate the key developmental points in relation to your submitted work.

On completing your draft you’ll have agreed with your mentor the most useful and appropriate form for your professional editorial feedback to take. 

This might include:

  • full editorial feedback from your mentor, either verbally, face to face, written, or a combination, whatever feels right for you;
  • editorial feedback from an alternative specialist writer, editor or agent operating in your genre;
  • or a line edit with comments made directly on your manuscript (don’t worry you’ll know what a line edit is by then!)

The 1-hour Zoom Q&A sessions for each module will be recorded and shared so that if you can’t make it live you can still learn from the questions that are asked. You can also send questions in advance for us to answer.

You’ll be paired up with a writing buddy from your fellow students so you can swap work and cheer each other on as the course progresses.

“This course helped me to understand the pillars of theme, characterisation and setting, reminding me to use these in pushing the story forwards and getting that all important first draft completed. As a new writer, or even an experienced one, self-doubt can really hamper the progress you make. Having an experienced mentor, who’s been there before you and can pull you out of the mud when things get tough, is priceless.”

Julie Day

Booking T&Cs

Payment terms

If you are making payment in full, the balance is due on booking to reserve your space.

If you are using the instalment plan a 10% non-refundable deposit is due on booking to reserve your space. Payments will be taken for 9 more monthly instalments after that.

If your application is accepted but you do not make payment, your space on the course is not confirmed and you could potentially lose it as other applicants are approved and the course fills up. 

Cancellation policy

If you are unable to start the course, you can withdraw up to 60 days prior to the start date. If you have paid in full, you will receive a full refund minus the 10% non-refundable deposit. If you have signed up on the instalment plan, your deposit will be retained as our administration fee.

For withdrawals less than 60 days prior to the course start date, you will receive a refund only if we can re-sell the space. If you have paid in full, and we re-sell your space, you will receive a full refund minus the 10% non-refundable deposit. If you have signed up on the instalment plan, your deposit will be retained as our administration fee and any additional instalments paid will be returned if we can re-sell your space.

We cannot accept withdrawals or issue any refunds after the course start date, and any instalment payments due remain mandatory.