Key skills for novel writers with Beth Miller

Ref: S2D31702

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About this course

Writing a novel is a marathon, not a sprint. This course will cover some of the key skills you need to get to the end of a first or second draft, as well as some essential tools for improving what you already have.

Course Description

This course would suit those writers who are looking for ways to get their novel to the next stage. This includes those who:

- have made a start on their novels, but got a little stuck

- have finished or nearly finished a first draft and are ready for second draft

- have done enough rewriting and are ready for that final polish

By the end of this course, you will have had the opportunity to explore the following topics in relation to your own work:

- Writing style, planning, goal-setting and time management

- The structure and big question of their novel

- How to tackle the baggy middle

- Sub-plots, dialogue, pace and the sex scene

- Building stronger characters

- Editing in layers

- Good endings

- Q&A about submitting for publication

We will be sharing information about our works-in-progress. This information will remain confidential within the group. Taking part is warmly encouraged and will likely benefit your practice, but if you’d prefer to sit these parts out, you can spend the time writing instead.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • On this course, the tutor will supply most of the materials, including handouts.

What students need to bring

  • Notebook and pen (or laptop if you prefer)
  • Some pages from your novel to work on
  • PLUS: four copies of a scene of dialogue from your novel, a conversation between two people, up to a maximum of 1000 words
  • Eight copies of the very first page of your novel, double-spaced
  • A 500-word synopsis for your novel if you have one, and would like Beth to read it during the course and give feedback, time permitting. This is optional!

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Notebooks and pens

Additional information

Please wear suitable clothing and footwear for this workshop.


Beth Miller

Beth Miller is the author of six novels, including the bestselling The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright (2020). Her most recent novel, The Woman Who Came Back to Life (2022), will be published in seven languages. She has also published two non-fiction books. She has a PhD in Psychology and is a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Brighton University. She teaches regularly for Arvon, and is a book coach for writers at all stages. 


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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