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What Do You Need From A Writing School?

I’m slowly putting together a prospectus for a writing school.

The school will exist online (though there may be opportunities to meet me and other students at some point in the future in the ‘real world’) and will cater for new writers, writers with some experience, and established writers who already have a reputation and income.

The pathway through the school — its curriculum, if you like — will be called the Clarendon House Master Author Programme, and the idea will be to train writers from whichever ‘entry point’ they join the programme, catering for their specific individual needs and moving them along tailor-made tracks to their own goals.

Think of it as going to university — but in this case it’s a university specifically for writers and to do with the skills and techniques used by master authors through the centuries. As with university, there will be foundation courses, lots of required reading, specific exercises and assignments to accomplish, advanced courses and materials, and lectures and tutorials on specific subjects.

It will be a modular programme: just as at most universities, students will select a series of modules based on their own interests and needs, and as each section is finished, the modules will add up to a completed course. I expect that in some cases, these courses will take years to progress through, while others will be done in a matter of weeks. Some writers, beginning at the very earliest stages, and taking a high number of modules, may take as long as three years to complete the whole programme. That’s three years with some hours of study done in most weeks, with plenty of breaks and holidays, just like a normal university. Those undertaking a fuller programme will receive the appropriate certifications.

The programme will vary in cost from person to person: one writer may only require a few modules to achieve his or her goals, while another may want to undertake a more extensive series of courses, covering a much wider range of topics. Each module will be reasonably priced based on the resources it takes to deliver it, while bulk modules purchased to fulfil a course requirement will be subject to sliding scales of costs. None of this will be particularly cheap — while not in the same range as university tuition fees, the prices will be determined by the value contained in each module, the degree of labour-intensive delivery, and hard printing costs — given that printed materials will need to be included in many cases.

What I really need to know, though, is which subject areas are of greater interest to you, the writers?

Topics I plan to cover include (but are no means limited to):

Writing as a Business

Finding and Creating Time to Write

Basic Story Structure

Linear Dynamics of Storytelling

Depth of Reader Attraction

Character Development

Plot Types and Purposes

The Four Basic Genres

The Seven Character Archetypes

Settings and Their Role

Reworking and Editing a Story


Basics of Marketing


Taking a Story to the Next Level

and so on.

Please help me by indicating any preferences you have, suggesting any other topics you’d like me to cover and any other thoughts and ideas. You can communicate via the comments in the Inner Circle Writers’ Group pages, or by emailing me directly at

I already have much of the foundational material I need for the Master Programme, along with the organisational patterns and administrative procedures required to get a writing school off the ground and make it a success — but I want to be doubly sure that I am actually servicing your real needs as writers, wherever you may be on a spectrum of writing.

Thanks in advance for any feedback you can give!


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