Mary Ann Hutchinson

Constructing a Novel

“I had written two novels that were popular with friends and family, but I wanted to elevate my writing to the point where an Editor would consider them worthy of being read and loved by strangers. I saw the advert for the The Writers’ Academy and was drawn to the authority of a course connected to Penguin Random House. It appealed to me because there was a natural progression from the Creative Writing for Beginners course to the Constructing a Novel course.

“It was clear from the first week that this course had been very well put together with a lot of thought. That the articles, exercises and further reading were chosen for a very specific purpose, and it all helped to build into a course that covered every aspect of what I as a writer should be mindful of when I am thinking about characters, when I am choosing the words to describe their surroundings, and where it could all lead. Through the Creative Writing for Beginners course I unearthed many backstories of my main character, getting to know her so much better than I already did. The exercises were so useful I have been using them to get to know the other main characters in my novels.

“When we started the Constructing a Novel course, to examine the first novel as a whole, I felt so much better prepared to look at it anew and see all the things I could do to make it into a novel I was proud of, a novel worthy of publication. At the end of the course, when I had the opportunity to rewrite the first chapter of the first novel, I produced a level of work that was both a surprise and a pleasure for me read back. None of this would have been possible without the help and guidance of my tutor, Barbara Henderson. With her editorial help and invaluable comments, my writing improved exponentially, and continues to improve day by day. My only regret is that there isn’t a further course I could do with her tutelage, or an ongoing one that I could do for the rest of my writing life. Everything I learned on both courses has rippled through not only the first novel I am working on, but on the ones that have followed it.

“Since the course I have gone through my entire first novel with a very sharp self-editor’s eye and picked out everything that works, doesn’t quite work, needs to go deeper, or needs to be cut. I am currently rewriting chapters two and three of the first book, taking the time to develop each idea running through this novel and into the next ones. I am also re-working short stories with my new-found levels of writing and editing, to craft them into stories I would be proud to offer for publication.”

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