Meet Bob, Author and Ultimate Novel Writing Course Student

Meet Bob, Author and Ultimate Novel Writing Course Student

Over the course of one year, our UNWC students embark on a life-changing journey, transforming their ideas into publishable novels, ready to place into the hands of agents and readers alike.

You may have heard about our intensive yet flexible course before.

You may be aware of our success stories, the 1 in 3 manuscript request rate*.

But what is it like?

What do you actually do?

Well be honest, we’re not the best people to ask.

Bob, however, is exactly the person you should speak to. At the beginning of his own Ultimate journey, he’s here today to give you all the scoop. And what’s more, he’ll be back to document his experience every step of the way.

Bob O’Donnell

You want to write an amazing novel but don’t know where to begin?

That was where I found myself several years ago, before I stumbled upon the cornucopia of writing resources that is Jericho Writers. Now I’ve solved half the problem. Just the other half to go.

Hello, my name is Bob O’Donnell, and I want to tell you about being a student on Jericho Writers’ Ultimate Novel Writing Course. Before I dive right in, a little about me.

Why I write?

Like anyone, I suppose, I write because I love books. When I was young, my mother worked in a bookshop and would bring home books with their covers torn off (I assume it was old stock; she wasn’t a thief). The books were a varied mix, most beyond my years. But I read them regardless. Two that stuck in my mind were Misery and Jurassic Park. I was both petrified and mesmerised. I was ten. And I was hooked.

As a side note, in school, I was terrible at English. Really bad—although, I could talk it good. But when school ended, being an author, or even just a writer, didn’t seem realistic. What would I know about writing a book or being a journalist? So off I went off to university where I tried to become an astronomer. That didn’t work out. On to the next plan. I put on a uniform and patrolled the streets—where, ironically, I did a lot of writing, publishing many a whodunnit. But I never gave up creative writing, never gave up writing books. Eventually, I began to believe that maybe, just maybe, I had a chance…

Jump forward to 2022, and after a couple of manuscript assessments and a copy edit, I finally became an author. I self-published via Amazon’s KDP, and the response was more than I expected. People actually read my book. And they rated it. And they reviewed it. It was exhilarating. I knew I wanted more. But first, I needed to develop my writing, to push myself further. That brought me to the Ultimate Novel Writing Course. On reading the prospectus, I knew it was a good fit for my current writing. I had not long finished the first draft for a thriller, and the opportunity to work with tutors and have my manuscript gently slid under the noses of agents was too good to miss. Given that I had already self-published, I was confident that whatever I produced on the course would be published—either by me, or by Penguin Random House. Got to dream, right?

The Ultimate Novel Writing Course

But you don’t want to know about all that. You want to know about the course. You want to know if it’s worth it. You want to know if you should commit twelve months of your life to study and workshops and webinars and tutor calls and assignments. Well, the short answer is, yes, you should. Three months in, and my manuscript has developed and moved in unexpected directions, and it already feels much stronger. That’s down to my tutor not being afraid to give honest feedback, and to my tutor group providing some exceptional critiques, and to reading the work of my peers and learning from their skills. Believe me, you won’t just learn from the course work. You learn from everyone.

So, a quick rundown on the course so far. During the first month, I met my tutor and my cohort and we got to work straight away on developing our plot. Despite having a complete first draft, this was still a tough task and made me really nail down my plot, knowing it would be read by people who are in the business of writing books. My tutor group were really positive and offered valuable comments. In that first month, my tutor encouraged me to consider a change to one of my characters, which I resisted at first. But after discussing it with another student in my cohort, I came to realise my tutor was right. Having now made that change, my book already feels stronger.

Onto the second month, and we worked on POV. Although I was comfortable with my choice, taking a step back and reviewing my particular POV made me realise I knew very little about why the choice matters. I hadn’t really thought about how close I wanted the reader to get to my protagonist, or how much I wanted to show the reader. So much to learn. However, my decision turned out to be serendipitous, and my first mini crisis was averted.

Now the third month. Setting. Not my strong point. This was a game-changer for me, and a humbling experience. Describing a scene and infusing it with character and tone is enough to give me cold sweats. But after forensically examining the course material, submitting a 3,000 word assignment, and receiving written feedback and having a one-to-one call with my tutor, I’m now well on my way to developing this skill and writing it with confidence. Having written feedback and one-to-ones is invaluable. Getting them every month is priceless. And as I move forward in this crucible, I know my book, and my writing, can only get better.

(cue the music)

Applications for the our next Ultimate Novel Writing Course close on 3 September 2023, so make sure you get yours in before it’s too late. Download the prospectus, or book a call with our friendly team to find out how to apply.

*Statistic based on the 21/22 intake

Related Articles