Do you want to benefit from expert feedback and guidance while developing your writing skills in a supportive group environment?

 

GROUP COACHING IS FOR YOU.

Applications will open on Monday 2 March, 2pm GMT

Introducing group coaching for historical fiction writers…

Our work-in-progress group coaching programme for historical fiction writers combines critiques and guidance from expert tutors with feedback and support from a small group of fellow historical fiction writers. It accommodates a range of experience, from writers who are just starting out to those who have already been published. All participants are working towards completing their historical novels.

It’s an online programme, so you can participate from anywhere in the world. Each class lasts six months. Applications for the spring 2020 class will open on Monday 2 March at 2pm GMT. If you’re interested and want to learn more, read on. If you have any questions or want to discuss whether the programme is right for you, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Why group coaching?

Writing can be a challenging and often isolating experience; group coaching means you won’t have to face any problems alone, and there will always be someone who’s been through the same struggles. At the same time, it enables you to benefit from expert feedback and guidance while also providing the accountability you need to make progress on your manuscript.

Coaching helps you to resolve issues earlier on in the writing process so that you avoid wasting time, effort, and money dealing with them later on. Equally, it can give you confirmation that you’re on the right track without having to spend months or years on a manuscript before anyone else sees it. Above all, it allows you to learn as you write, giving you access to resources, feedback, and troubleshooting all in one place.

Is it for me?

This programme is for you if…

You’re a historical fiction writer

Most sub-genres and forms accepted, including action/adventure, thriller, mystery, romance, drama, epic, biographical, time-slip, dual timeline, and others. Consult the FAQ for more details.

You’re currently working on a historical novel

You can be at any stage. You might be about to start writing, you might be halfway through, or you might be editing your first draft. As long as you expect to be writing and/or editing your novel for at least the next six months, this programme is for you.

This programme is for you even if especially if…

You’re a first-time writer

There’s no need to be shy if you’re a first-time writer. The purpose of the programme is to foster learning and growth, and each group will contain a mixture of different levels of experience and skills.

You’re an experienced writer

We aim to provide an environment where proficient writers can benefit from a supportive group environment while refreshing their knowledge and skills. You may have already been published, and you may have been writing for some time. If so, you’re very welcome.

You’ve been working on your novel for years

Great! It doesn’t matter if this is the first or the tenth iteration of your novel. The programme can help you gain a new perspective on your work and overcome the hurdles you’ve been facing.

Key features

Tutor critiques

Every month, you’ll submit up to 5000 words of your writing. The tutors will pick two or three submissions to critique (depending on the size of your group), cycling through the participants over the course of the six months to ensure that everyone gets two tutor critiques by the end. 

The critiques will include margin comments on your work, together with a substantive report. They will be shared with the wider group so that everyone can learn together.

Peer critiques

Your monthly submission will also be critiqued by two other group participants. In return, you’ll critique two submissions yourself. You’ll do this by adding margin comments and a summary of your impressions at the end. 

As well as being a fair exchange, you’ll find the process of critiquing other people’s writing a useful learning exercise.

Tutor support

You’ll have direct access to the lead tutor via a weekly Q&A session in a private Facebook group. Group members will have up to 48 hours to post questions, and the lead tutor will respond to them with substantive advice. This allows all the participants to learn from the questions and answers.

Learning

There will be dedicated tutorial videos and accompanying PDFs (if you don’t like video) covering the following topics: 1) the fundamentals of language, 2) viewpoint, voice, and tense, 3) setting, 4) plot, 5) structure and pacing, and 6) characterisation. Each topic will have its own module with individual lectures.

Exercises

There will be an optional exercise each month to accompany the tutorial videos. This will give you an opportunity to put what you’ve learned into action. If you choose to complete them, you can submit them to the lead tutor for feedback.

Report

At the end of the six months, you will receive a final report summarising your progress and outlining any areas you need to continue working on. You’ll also have the option of a 60 minute Skype/phone call with the lead tutor to follow up on the report and discuss next steps. Alternatively, you can communicate over email.

Key points

How long does the programme last?

Six months.

When does it begin?

1 April.

How much does it cost?

£85 GBP or $110 USD per month

Who are the tutors?

Andrew Noakes is the lead tutor. Kahina Necaise and Pippa Brush Chappell are the assistant tutors. You can read more about them below.

Where does it take place?

It’s an online programme. Each group interacts within a private Facebook group. You’ll upload your writing submissions to a secure Google Drive folder, and you’ll access the lectures online as well.

How many writers will there be in my group?

There will be approximately six to eight writers in each group.

How is it structured?

Each group works to a timetable. The monthly learning module is published on the 8th of each month. The deadline for writing submissions is the 19th. Critiques are due by the end of the month. Every week, there is one Q&A session with the lead tutor.

How do the submissions work?

You’ll submit up to 5000 words of your writing each month. This is the maximum amount you can submit, but you can submit less if you like. It might be typical to submit a single chapter, but you can also submit a single scene. The minimum submission will be 1000 words, so you should expect to be able to write at least this amount each month. You don’t have to submit new writing every month, though. You can alternatively submit writing that you’ve edited after submitting it in a previous month.

Which currencies can I pay with?

You’ll be charged in GBP or USD according to your preference. If you use a different local currency, it will be converted to GBP or USD as part of the payment process, providing your credit/debit card or bank permits it.

How do I apply?

You can apply by submitting 1) a brief blurb outlining the premise of your novel (a full synopsis is not necessary), and 2) a writing sample of 1000 words. The sample can be from your current project or from a previous one, but it must be fiction. Applications will open on Monday 2 March at 2pm GMT, after which you’ll be able to make your application via this page. Applications will close on Tuesday 10 March at 2pm GMT.

What happens if I change my mind?

You can leave the programme if you change your mind or you’re no longer able to participate. You will pay for the duration of the current month, but we’ll refund any payment you’ve made for the following month, and you won’t have to pay for any subsequent months.

More questions? No worries. There’s an extended FAQ section further down.

Meet your lead tutor, Andrew Noakes

Andrew is the founder and executive editor of The History Quill. A graduate of Cambridge University, where he studied history, he spent nearly a decade working in the world of politics and international affairs before happily giving it up to pursue his real passion: historical fiction. He has previously lived and worked all over the world, including in the United States, Belgium, Cameroon, and Botswana.

Specialising in historical fiction gives him the opportunity to combine his historical expertise with his love of story craft. He enjoys delving into worlds so ostensibly different from our own, yet in whose conflicts, intrigues, and dramas we can see clear reflections of ourselves.

Assistant tutors:

Kahina Necaise

Trained in book publishing at NYU and Oxford Brookes University, Kahina has honed her writing and editing skills while living on three different continents. Originally from the USA but now based in the UK, she enjoys work that indulges two of her deepest passions: story structure and history. She has completed professional courses in both content editing and copy-editing.

Pippa Brush Chappell 

Pippa has been teaching writing for more than 25 years. She has a PhD in English and has taught at colleges and universities in Canada and the USA, and at secondary school in the UK. Her short fiction has been published, most recently, in a Grindstone anthology and online in The Virtual Zine.

Testimonials

“I’ve had an excellent experience with The History Quill’s group coaching programme. Andrew’s expert and very detailed feedback has sharpened my writing and given me a much-needed sense of direction for my novel. The critiques from fellow writers have provided me with some superb advice and fresh insights into my writing. The learning materials are of a very high quality, and the structure of the programme is clear and logical. Regular reminders from Andrew have helped me to keep on track, and the deadlines for submitting work have meant that my writing output has increased. I thoroughly recommend this online programme to my fellow historical fiction writers.”

Barbara Allan

“As a first-time author, I was excited to join a group coaching programme focused on historical fiction writing and led by an editor specializing in the genre. Andrew and the rest of the group couldn’t have been more welcoming and supportive. The regular critiques and learning modules gave me the extra tools and knowledge I needed to re-think aspects of my story that were causing me difficulty, and I’m now writing with renewed confidence, motivation, and enjoyment.”

Kelly Scarborough

“After self-publishing my first novel and having the sequel picked up by a traditional publisher, I was keen to write a third to take the series forward. Inevitably, life got in the way and progress was slow, so I joined Andrew’s group coaching programme with the aim of getting back on track. The accountability and support have given me a much-needed lift, helping me put in the time and effort necessary to boost my word count. The critiques, Q&As, and learning modules have also helped broaden my understanding of story craft and improve my writing as I go along.”

Jonathan Hopkins

“Before I joined The History Quill’s group coaching programme, I had started four different novels but never finished, finding it difficult to transition from short stories and poetry to a much longer piece of work. But I’m delighted to say the programme has been transformative for me. I find the writing deadlines extremely motivating and strive to craft my 5,000 words carefully each month for review. The group environment really helps to build accountability, and the critiques have been extremely helpful for enhancing the quality of my writing, particularly drawing attention to things I probably never would have noticed by myself. For the first time, I’m on course to complete a full novel.” 

Anni Telford

Do you want to benefit from expert feedback and guidance while developing your writing skills in a supportive group environment?

 

GROUP COACHING IS FOR YOU.

Applications will open on Monday 2 March, 2pm GMT

Lecture preview

Frequently asked questions

Applications

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Which sub-genres and forms will you accept?

The programme is designed for people who are writing historical novels. Applicants who are writing novellas or short stories will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Time-slips, dual timelines, and non-linear narratives are all welcome. Most sub-genres will be accepted, including action/adventure, thriller, mystery, romance, drama, biographical, epic, and many others.

Applications from historical fantasy writers are welcome and will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The same goes for YA writers and children’s historical fiction writers. Erotic fiction will not be accepted.

We reserve the right to make other exclusions on a case-by-case basis. If you’re not sure whether your sub-genre/form is a good fit, don’t hesitate to email us and ask.

What if I haven't started my novel? What if it's finished and I'm editing it?

As long as you’re expecting to work on your novel for the duration of the programme, this is a good fit for you. Beyond that, it doesn’t matter what stage you’re at, and it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been working on it previously.

Do you accept international applicants?

Of course! The programme is entirely online, so you can live anywhere in the world. You’ll be able to pay in either GBP or USD. Payments in other currencies will be converted to either GBP or USD as part of the payment process, depending on your preference.

When's the deadline for applications?

Applications will close on Tuesday 10 March, 2pm GMT.

What format should I use for my application?

Submit both your blurb and your writing sample in one document (Microsoft Word or PDF). Other formatting details (e.g. font, spacing, etc.) are up to you.

I’m not sure what to submit for my 1000 word sample. Help!

Don’t over-think it. It doesn’t need to be a cohesive section, so it can begin or end abruptly. Pick a section of a chapter that you feel best represents your writing – it could be primarily dialogue, description, action, or a combination.

If you’re just starting out, don’t panic. The aim of this programme is to develop your skills. No one’s expecting your sample to be perfect.

What about the blurb?

It’s not a synopsis, so you don’t need to explain everything that happens in your story. It should be a 5–6 line description of your basic premise. Essentially, what’s your story about?

How will you choose between the applicants?

We’re looking for a balance of skills and experience, and the primary criteria will be the potential of the writing and the premise. However, we reserve the right to use other criteria, such as (but not limited to) suitability for a group environment, balance of sub-genres, etc.

Will I have an edge if I apply early?

No. Applications will be judged based upon their merits rather than when they were received.

When will we find out if we’ve been selected?

By 13 March.

The programme

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When will the programme start and end?

The programme will start on 1 April, and your first writing submission will be due on 19 April. The programme will end on 30 September.

Which tutors will critique my work?

The lead tutor and assistant tutors will divide the critiques between them according to a timetable worked out in advance. Your two critiques may come from the same tutor or from different tutors. If you wish to be paired with a particular tutor, please let us know in advance and we shall do our best to arrange it.

Do we have to use Facebook?

Yes. Facebook is the best tool for facilitating communication within each group. If you have privacy concerns, you can control your privacy settings to make sure you don’t share anything you don’t want to. The Facebook group will be private, so no one else can join or see who is a member.

How will we share our writing?

You’ll upload your writing to a secure Google Drive folder that only your group can view. To access it, you’ll need to have a Google account. If you don’t have one already, don’t worry. We’ll provide instructions on how to set one up.

Will we have to be available at certain times of the day?

No. There’s no requirement to be available at any particular time or to be in any particular time zone. You’ll complete critiques and exercises in your own time, and the Q&As will last 48 hours, allowing you to participate around your schedule, no matter which time zone you’re in.

5000 words? I can’t write that fast!

5000 words is the maximum you can submit, but something around the 3000 to 4000 range might be more typical. You could aim to submit roughly a chapter each month. However, you can also submit much less, such as a single scene. 1000 words should be the minimum you aim for.

You can also submit previous writing that you’ve improved upon, rather than submitting something new each month.

Do the video lectures have captions?

Yes they do, and you can also view the lectures in PDF format.

Will I be able to email the tutors with questions during the programme?

Questions should be asked in the weekly Q&A in the Facebook group so that everyone can learn together. If you have a question that can’t be asked publicly, or that has to do with an organisational issue, by all means ask over email and the lead tutor will respond at their discretion.

What if I'm away/on holiday for part of the programme?

No worries. You won’t have to submit any writing or do any critiques for the period that you’re away.

Am I guaranteed critiques?

You’re guaranteed two tutor critiques over the six months, and you’ll ordinarily get two peer critiques each month. However, it’s occasionally possible that, for various reasons, another group member may not be able to complete a critique for you. This only happens rarely.

What if I change my mind or I have to leave the programme early?

You can leave the programme if you change your mind or you’re no longer able to participate. You’ll pay for the duration of the current month, but we’ll refund any payment you’ve made for the following month, and you won’t have to pay for any subsequent months.

What happens after the programme is finished?

You’ll have the opportunity to continue as a member of a new group in the subsequent cohort if you wish.

How do I pay?

The default payment method will be via credit or debit card. A payment will be taken every month during your participation in the programme.

What are the full terms and conditions?

You can view the full terms and conditions here. You will be asked to review them and agree to them during the enrollment process.

More questions?

If you have any additional questions, or if you want to discuss whether the programme would be right for you, don’t hesitate to get in touch by emailing us at enquiries@thehistoryquill.com.