The Writers’ Masterclass

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Welcome to The Writers’ Masterclass

My thanks to Claire for the photograph of the Shakespeare and Company bookshop in Paris.

Greetings to those of you returning from previous Masterclasses and to newcomers from either the Writing Fiction or Writing Reality short courses or, if you’re a word of mouth ‘walk-in’, hello.

Registration continues to the end of February, and while that is happening please prepare an outline for your project, if you are starting a new project; or if you are a returning writer please give us an update on how far you have progressed since we last saw your work. The first submission is on Monday 1 March when we will need that information.

As you know, our intention is to give supervision over the next nine months as you write between 50’000 and 60’000 words. Supervision is our primary objective during the Masterclass. While we can point out some stylistic errors – and will do so, particularly in the first assessments – improving your style is not the function of this class. Our attention will be on story, plot, and character development, and this applies as much to non-fiction narratives as it does to fiction.

One of the aspects of the Masterclass that we encourage – while always aware that your time is limited – is peer review. This has not proved entirely successful in the past, probably because, as the manuscripts grow, so the time needed to read them lengthens. We’ve decided, however, to keep this side of the class open and ask if you could peer review one manuscript per submission. Your colleagues greatly appreciate the additional feedback. With each class, writers stress that they would have liked more peer reviews. All we can do is urge you to review when you can. Bear in mind that if you give reviews, you are also likely to receive reviews. In March, we will email a style guide and a critique guide to you prior to the second submission (which is the first time the new writers in the class will be sending in text, but more of that later).

There is a discussion forum that will run for the duration of the class. We will post bits and pieces there regularly and you are welcome to do the same. Please think of it as a place to hang-out where we can chat about writing, and sometimes other matters besides.

During the Masterclass some of you may finish your novels or non-fiction narratives within the anticipated word count while others might be looking to complete longer works. Either way the supervision and our final report should give you the confidence and guidance to continue.

The work schedule

If you are starting a new project, on Monday 1 March could you please submit a project outline of between 500 and 1000 words whether it is fiction or non-fiction, and a character bible of 200 words per character (your main protagonists, not all the minor characters). Writers from Masterclass2020 can submit any work done since that class ended.

After that the submission schedule is:

  • Submission 2 (text) 6 April.
  • Submission 3 (text) 17 May.
  • Submission 4 (text) 28 June.
  • Submission 5 (text) 2 August.
  • Submission 6 (text) 6 September.
  • Submission 7 (final) 11 October.

We will take two weeks to assess the submissions.

You should aim to submit up to 8000-word instalments of your work with each submission deadline.

Claire and I will alternate our assessments so that you get comments from both of us as you progress. With the final submission we issue a joint report as we will both have assessed your work.

Should you not want the group to have access to your work, please inform me and your submissions will be kept confidential (only visible to Claire and me).

Please understand that the submission deadlines are not compulsory. They are there to give you progress markers. If you can’t make a submission, simply work towards the next date. Please post your submission into the relevant assignment box.


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