Arts Derbyshire


Autumn Writer’s Courses with Sophie & Roz

Autumn Writer's Courses with Sophie & Roz

New Writing Courses with Sophie Draper and Roz Watkins

“Gripping Fiction”: a live online course: Wed 15th Sept to 20th Oct 2021 incl.

“Submitting to Agents”: a live online course: Mon 8th Nov – 29th Nov 2021 incl.



“Gripping Fiction”          £235

6 weeks of 15th Sept to 20th October 2021 (Wednesdays, 7 – 8.30pm, live online).

Join myself and Roz for six weeks packed with secrets and surprising insights from two friendly and helpful commercial authors published by Big Five publishers. Taught online via live Zoom, meetings will be weekly on Wednesday evenings 7 – 8.30pm.

Roz and I first met on a similar writer’s course in Derby. It was a chance to learn and share our writing efforts and we both found it very motivating. We hope this online teaching experience will also help your writing ambitions and allow you to get to know a small group of like-minded writers just like we did.

Both of us went on to publish with HarperCollins, Roz writing her acclaimed Meg Dalton crime detective series (The Devil’s Dice, short-listed for the CWA Debut Dagger Award, Dead Man’s Daughter and Cut To The Bone), myself winning the Bath Novel Award 2017 with Cuckoo and then writing Magpie. For more info on Roz see Roz and I are experienced workshop leaders and we’d love to share some of what we’ve learned, encourage new writers and offer a practical insight into the business of writing.

The course program is set out below. Places are strictly limited to ensure a manageable group. We ran the same course earlier this year and it was so popular we ended up running (and selling out) two concurrently, so do please book ahead.

To book, email Sophie at the heading “Course Booking”. The course cost is £235, payable in full on booking.

You don’t need a Zoom account to participate but you will need access to the internet and we’ll email you the link to the weekly online meetings.


Course Program

Week 1 – An Irresistible Idea

  • Finding the commercial potential in your novel, so it grabs agents and publishers and won’t let go.
  • Your perfect plotting strategy, whether planning or “pantsing” or a bit of both.
  • Understanding plot and character to give your novel shape, depth and meaning.

Week 2 – Unputdownable Scenes

  • Why your characters need goals, motivation and conflict.
  • Consequence and escalation in every scene.
  • How to include subtext and irony and why you must do this.
  • Creating suspense and tension, absolute essentials for a commercial novel.
  • Adding atmosphere and intrigue – why a reader will turn the page apart from plot.

Week 3 – Using the Power of your Mind to succeed as a Writer

  • Why some writing goals help and others hinder.
  • Why failure is good and how to use it.
  • Overcoming “writers’ block”.
  • Common ways you may be hijacking your progress.

Week 4 – Editing to Perfection

  • The different types of editing (Structural, Copy, Line & Proof).
  • Story, story, story.
  • Editing your novel to make it shine.
  • Motivation, theme, character deepening, voice, atmosphere, setting and mood, world-building and other essential edits to consider.

Week 5 – Character and Point of View.

  • Why your main character MUST be compelling (not necessarily likeable), and surprising ways to achieve this.
  • Why everyone goes on about “voice” and how to get it into your writing.
  • Point of View – why subtle problems here get writers rejected within one page.

Week 6 – Industry Essentials & What Next

  • An overview of the industry and its key players: agents, publishers, imprints, etc.
  • The financial realities: advances, royalties, joint accounting & other rights.
  • Knowing your market, genre & the different publishing formats. Traditional v. self-publishing (the mechanics of self publishing are not covered on this course).
  • Sales, distribution, bestseller lists, reviews, readers… the importance of pitch.
  • Your agent submission package.
  • Books to read, conferences, competitions, one-to-ones… where to go next.
  • Q&A.


Quotes from Previous Participants:

“The best writing course I have been on.” Lucy Charlesworth

“Great value for money. Packed full with detailed information and fascinating insights… Technically excellent.” Steve Warner

“The notes were quite the best of any course I have ever done. Highly recommended… excellent teaching, full of insights, practical tips and infectious enthusiasm for their craft.” Tamara Henriques

“The content was excellent… really practical with ideas that have already changed the emphasis I place on different parts of the writing process… has saved me lots of time and wasted effort and helped me get more of my story down.” Caroline Hardwick

“Really enjoyed the course from beginning to end… the evenings have been terrific… well organised and presented, followed up by fantastic handouts… you have both been very generous with your time, thoughts and experiences.” Kevin Walker


NOTE: We are also running a further more detailed course on putting together your agent submission package – see below – why not book on both?


“Agent Submission Package”          £175

4 weeks of 8th to 29th November 2021          (Mondays, 7 – 8.30pm, live online).

This course can be booked separately, or in conjunction with the “Gripping Fiction” course. It will cover:

– Week 1: Pitch and covering letter

– Week 2: Synopsis

– Week 3: Opening Chapters

– Week 4: How to find agents to submit to, and Q&A

The aim is to take you through the practicalities of writing the different segments of the submission package each week – so be prepared to do some homework, and by the end of the course, you should have a full draft of your submission package!

The course cost is £175, payable in full on booking.

Again, you don’t need a Zoom account to participate but you will need access to the internet and we’ll email you the link to the weekly online meetings.


To book either course, contact Sophie via email: using “Course Booking” as your heading.

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