Win an Intensive Creative Writing Course from The Writers’ Academy!

Posted by November 4th, 2014

Enter to win an intensive creative writing course with The Writers' Academy!

We’re excited to give away a free spot in the latest intensive creative writing course from The Writers’ Academy, a new range of online classes offered by Penguin Random House UK. This sweepstakes is exclusive to Book Country members who live in the US, the UK, and Canada (excluding Quebec).

During the course, you will be introduced to key elements of fiction including character, plot, and setting. The course includes weekly writing exercises, individual feedback and support, and videos and podcasts from world famous authors. You’ll also receive expert advice from Michal Shavit, Editorial Director at Harvill Secker. Shavit has worked with incredible authors including including Denis Johnson, Rachel Kushner, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Alexandra Fuller, Elif Batuman and Sheila Heti, among others. Tuition is priced at £499 (approximately USD $800!), but one lucky Book Country member will take the course for free! If you aren’t yet a Book Country member, go ahead and join now.

As a student, you’ll receive a discount on all further courses with The Writers’ Academy, and an opportunity to become part of The Writers’ Academy alumni community. You can read the full course schedule on The Writers’ Academy page.

Michal ShavitWe caught up with Editorial Director Michal Shavit to learn more about the Writers’ Academy, what it will be like to take this course, and how she approaches working with writers.

Why should an aspiring writer take a course from the Writers’ Academy?

As the largest publisher, Penguin Random House can draw on their vast pool of authors and editors to contribute to the Writers’ Academy online course with their tips, experience and valuable advice.  The Beginners course offers exclusive online content from authors and editors in the form of podcasts, videos and written materials. Weekly exercises, structured peer review and regular individual feedback by an experienced creative writing teacher help students understand the nuts and bolts of creative writing. The course flexibility allows students to balance their busy lives, work and other commitments around the course.

What are some of the perks of taking an online writing course in this program?

This course offers Q&A sessions with Penguin Random House editors where students can ask questions about the topics they have studied as part of the course. All our previous students found this a unique opportunity! Many were also pleasantly surprised by the amount of personal attention they get from the course tutor. And at the end of the course, there is an option to submit a piece of writing to a Penguin Random House editor for review.

What must a writer do to ensure their manuscript is completely ready for submission?

As Zadie Smith wrote: “When you finish your novel, if money is not a desperate priority, if you do not need to sell it at once or be published that very second – put it in a drawer. For as long as you can manage. A year or more is ideal – but even three months will do. Step away from the vehicle. The secret to editing your work is simple: you need to become its reader instead of its writer.”

What advice do you find yourself repeating when editing a new authors work?

Firstly, take your time, don’t rush. Also, some writers won’t read a word of any novel while they are writing their own. However I think it can be very useful to read and be inspired by good books as a form of quality control and as a means of inspiration. Read the best books you can find. This is, of course, a matter of temperament. Some writers are the kind of solo performers who need complete silence to tune their instruments.

Do you see many recurring clichés that a new author should avoid straight off?

Clichés often happen in the first twenty pages of a novel. There is a tendency among some writers to spoon feed the reader. They can’t let a character walk across the room without giving her backstory as she goes. Or they don’t trust the reader to have patience and a little intelligence. Often worrying that if they don’t mention that Elizabeth Smith is a nurse with a dead mother in the first three pages this reader might not be able to follow exactly.

Based on your experience as an editor, what are the main things you’ve learned about the writing process?

There is no right or wrong way of writing. Every author has their writing methods and routines. The editor’s role in this should be an invisible one. We don’t want to interfere or control it, we want it to work, we want it to be happy, we want it to come out right.



Intensive Online Creative Writing Course Sweepstakes Rules

Enter for a chance to win:

A ten-week intensive online creative writing course offered by The Writers’ Academy, a division of Penguin Random House UK (ARV = $798.00/£499).

No purchase necessary.

Open to residents of the fifty United States, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and possessions, Canada (excluding Quebec) and the United Kingdom, age 18 or older or who have reached the age of majority in the country, state, or province of their residence at the time of entry.

Sweepstakes begins November 4, 2014. Entries must be received no later than November 10, 2014, 11:59:59 PM Eastern Time.

Winner will be selected at random on or about November 17, 2014.

Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received.

Void where prohibited by law.

Go to for full rules and how to enter.

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