The Writers' Masterclass 2

The Writers’ Masterclass

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Welcome to The Writers’ Masterclass

The Writers' Masterclass 3

Greetings to those of you returning from previous Masterclasses, to newcomers, and to those from either the Writing Fiction or Writing Reality short courses.

Over the 11 years it’s been running, the Masterclass has been a great writers group where we can talk about the craft of writing and post links to interesting articles about writers or book reviews and some of the lighter aspects which make writing fun.

You will have received the welcome letter and now you are entered on the WriteOnline site you can access the Masterclass page through the login button. If you’re a veteran your details will already be on the site and you can use your password from last year to access the Masterclass page. If you’re new to the class then you will have received a notification with a password (which you can change). This will allow you to login and you can add to your profile on the WriteOnline website, please post short biog details about yourself on the forum.

I’ll be giving you supervision over the next nine months as you write between 50,000 and 60,000 words. Supervision is my primary objective during the Masterclass. While I can point out some stylistic errors – and will do so, particularly in the first assessments – improving your style is not the function of this class. My attention will be on story, plot, and character development, and this applies as much to non-fiction narratives as it does to fiction.

There is a discussion forum that will run for the duration of the class. I will post bits and pieces there regularly and you are welcome to do the same. Please think of it as a place to hang-out where we can chat about writing, and sometimes other matters besides. You can also access my YouTube channel where you’ll find interviews with authors, agents, publishers, and editors.

During the Masterclass some of you may finish your novels or non-fiction narratives within the anticipated word count while others might be looking to complete longer works. Either way the supervision and my final report should give you the confidence and guidance to continue.

The work schedule

If you are starting a new project could you please prepare an outline of your project (about 500 – 1000 words) and a character bible where you list the main characters (ideally no more than five) and write short 100-150 word biogs about them, don’t forget to give some physical descriptions to your characters.

Writers from Masterclass2023 can submit any work done since that class ended. Please also give me an update on how far you have progressed since I last saw your work. The submission deadline here is Monday 20 February.

The first submission for new writers and those starting new projects is due on Monday 4 March.

After that the submission schedule is:

  • Submission 2 (text) 15 April.
  • Submission 3 (text) 20 May.
  • Submission 4 (text) 24 June.
  • Submission 5 (text) 5 August.
  • Submission 6 (text) 16 September.
  • Submission 7 (final) 28 October.

Reviews of your work will be returned to you between seven and 10 days after submission.

You should aim to submit up to 8000-word instalments of your work with each submission deadline. Please understand that the submission deadlines are not compulsory. They are there to give you progress markers. If you can’t make a submission, simply work towards the next date.

I shall assess each submission so that you get comments regularly on your progress. The final submission is of all the work you have done during the year.

Peer review

Peer review can be useful. One way to do this is to pair up with a fellow writer on a reciprocal review basis. This arrangement could be done by exchanging manuscripts by email. Guidelines on how to hand a peer review will be available from 4 March.

How to format your manuscript

Work in Word and keep the main copy of your manuscript on your computer. If you are as cautious as I am, you will also file it to a USB device, and save it in the Cloud or on Dropbox. I prefer having my work in progress in three different storage places.

For submissions could you name your manuscript this way: Your name (dot) sub number. Eg: mikenicol.sub1.docx

Here is how you should format your work:

  • At the beginning of a chapter or section please start flush left.
  • The next paragraph and all following paragraphs should be indented.
  • The right margin of your text should be left ragged, do not justify this margin.
  • Dialogue quote marks: most publishers prefer single quote marks [‘].
  • The spacing between lines can be set at 1.


  • Submitting your manuscript

On the Masterclass page you will find a Submission button. Click on this. A dialog box will open which has the option to upload your file. Click on Choose file. You will be directed to your files on your computer; select your manuscript and then click Upload. Once the file has been uploaded click on Finish assignment. It is important to click on Finish assignment to send the file. If you miss a submission deadline (eg sub3) but want to submit for submission 4, the website will tell you to go back to the submission 3 button. Best not to argue and do as instructed. As long as your name is on the submitted document I will get it and review it.