Short courses


A Marathon for the Mind: Why Writing a Novel Could Make You Stronger, Smarter and Kinder

  • Wednesday evenings (7pm to 9pm)
  • 5 weeks


This online evening course aims to demystify the process of writing your first novel.

The focus is on writing for pleasure and for self-improvement, but there will be sections on agents, publishers and self-publishing.

By the end of the course you'll have made a start on your novel, and have a good idea of your story, structure and schedule for completing your work.

Sessions will be held on Wednesday evenings, from 7pm to 9pm, over 5 weeks.

This course is run by the Open City Docs School, based in UCL's Department of Anthropology.

Who it's for

This course is open to anyone who is interested in the subject. You don't need any particular knowledge or experience to attend. 

Course content

The course will take you through every stage of fiction writing, from plotting and story-telling through to characters and structure.

You'll learn lots of practical tips and about realistic timelines.

After each session you'll be given an exercise to work on for the next class, helping you to grow and build on what you're being taught.

The topics for each week will be:

  • Week one: On your marks (the seven essential questions)
  • Week two: Get set
  • Week three: Go! (character)
  • Week four: Hitting the wall (structure and conflict)
  • Week five: The finish line

Cost and concessions

The price of this course is £250.

Two bursary places are available for people who would like to attend, but the cost of the course is a barrier to entry. Please contact Ripley at ripley@opencitylondon.com to apply.

Course team

Mat Osman

Mat Osman

Mat is the bass player and founding member of the British rock band Suede. His first novel, The Ruins, came out to much acclaim in 2020, and a second is due in 2022. He's written on the arts and travel for newspapers and magazines and composed music for film and TV.

Course information last modified: 6 Sep 2021, 10:04