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Crossing the Finish Line: How to Complete Your Novel, with William Shaw

8th April 2020 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm


A practical, intensive short course designed to give momentum to those who have already come some way into writing a long fiction project. Alongside advice on structure, story, character, dialogue and location, we’ll explore ways in which we can re-energise and refine your writing process to help you to finally carry the ball over the line. Towards the end of the course we’ll explore the practicalities of re-writing and editing, and of preparing a draft to send out to agents. You’ll be expected to do some short practical writing exercises during the classes, so please bring whatever you feel most comfortable working with.

William Shaw has written eight crime fiction novels; the latest is Grave’s EndThe Times calls him “a superb, flowing writer”; The Sun says he’s “one of the best authors in Brit crime fiction’s new wave”. His work has frequently nominated for awards including The Barry Award, The CWA Historical Dagger, the CWA Gold Dagger and the Theakston’s Prize. For over twenty years he wrote on popular culture for various publications including The Observer and The New York Times and is also the author of several non-fiction booksHe is in the process of completing his ninth and tenth novels, working on one in the afternoon and the other in the morning.

Week one: Strategies for finishing

An assessment of where you are with your work in progress. Collectively we’ll work on strategies and goals to move your book forward. How can we set reasonable objectives that produce your best work and which are in tune with the rest of our lives?

Week two: Shape

Story, shape, tension and theme. Sometimes it’s good to step away from the page and think about the shape of your work in progress. What’s the journey we’re taking the reader on? What lies behind the story we’re telling? And what makes a “good” chapter? By refining the shape of our stories we can clear a path to the way ahead.

Week three: Getting the details right, part 1

Character and setting. How can we refine what you have to make sure that characters are clear in the readers’ heads? What creates a strong sense of place? How character and place can help each other along.

Week four: Getting the details right, part 2

Dialogue, action and voice. Tips on how to sharpen dialogue and to improve its readability, on how to create scenes in which things happen and finally, how to strengthen the all-important “voice” of our book.

 Week five: Re-writing and editing

It’s easy to get lost in the process of re-writing. How to put the lessons learned the previous weeks to practical use to help you create a finished manuscript. We’ll do some practical work on cutting. Plus we’ll look at the role of the hardest bit of all; the book title.

 Week six: The submission process

What should your manuscript look like? How to present and format your work. We’ll also discuss the world into which you’re sending it; how agencies work, how they deal with submissions and how you should navigate this arcane world.


The Writers’ Place
Jew Street
Brighton, BN1 1UT
(see Google map)


New Writing South
01273 735353
View Organiser Website


South East England