Masterclass with Emma Claire Sweeney: Behind the Scenes of A Novel

Masterclass with Emma Claire Sweeney: Behind the Scenes of A Novel

13-20 April 2019 (Full)


15-22 June 2019

If you’re working or planning to work on a novel, you can’t miss this week! We’re so lucky to have Emma Claire Sweeney here to give us a behind the scenes tour of what it takes to get a novel from inside your head onto the page and then out into the world. We will read her novel Owl Song at Dawn and then through a series of three Masterclass seminars she will break down the process for us, sharing her process from early draft, to improving it artistically, to making it work for the market, to copyediting and finally proofreading. Along the way she will answer your questions and share her redrafting reports, agent and editor feedback and assist you in crafting your own novel roadmap. This document and process is invaluable in creating a mental picture for the book enabling you to hold the whole novel in your head through the entire process, allowing you to clearly speak to your vision and the text, and make sound decisions.

An literary agent or book editor will join via video conference for one of the sessions.

The three sessions on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday will culminate with a one-to-one feedback session on Friday where Emma will comment on your first chapter, synopsis and Novel Map that you will have developed during the seminars.

This is an invaluable set of masterclasses wherever you are in the writing process. It demystifies the process by showing you exactly what happens as you develop your novel, helps you apply practical approaches and think about your work in a way that will enable you to work smarter and surmount hurdles and challenges that occur along the way. It will give you more confidence as you press forward to a final draft and approach agents.

To join this Masterclass simply book a retreat or course that matches the level of manuscript development and free writing time you desire during the week: Studio Retreat, Mentored Retreat, A Writer Prepares or A Writer Progresses and then add then add this Masterclass option.

In practical terms this means that if you have a sizable chunk of your novel completed, have a plan and know how you want to use your writing time and don’t need in-depth feedback at this point, then you should book a Studio Retreat and add the Masterclass to it. If you you’d like in-depth, bespoke manuscript development guidance and feedback you should book one of the other options and add the Masterclass. If you are not sure which is best for you, please get in touch and we can talk through it with you.

About Your Masterclass Leader

Masterclass with Emma Claire Sweeney: Behind the Scenes of A Novel
Emma Claire Sweeney
photo by Rosalind Hobley

Emma Claire Sweeney, co-founder of City University’s Novel Studio, has won Society of Authors, Arts Council and Royal Literary Fund awards, and has written for the likes of The Paris Review, TIME, and The Washington Post.

Emma was named as both an Amazon Rising Star and a Hive Rising Writer for her debut novel, Owl Song at Dawn (Legend, 2016). Inspired by Emma’s sister who has cerebral palsy and autism, it went on to win Nudge Literary Book of the Year. Stemming from Something Rhymed, the website on female literary friendship that Emma runs with her own friend (and fellow Missé writer) Emily Midorikawa, Emma and Emily co-wrote their debut non-fiction book, A Secret Sisterhood: The literary friendships of Austen, Brontë, Eliot and Woolf (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017). In her foreword, Margaret Atwood described the work as a great ‘service to literary history’ and The Financial Times called it ‘an exceptional act of literary espionage’.


Masterclass Date: 13-20 April 2019 (FULL – contact us to get on wait-list) &15-22 June 2019 (to be booked in conjunction with a course or retreat running that week)

Course Length: Starts late Saturday evening, finishes midday Saturday (7 nights)

Schedule: Emma will run three hour and a half seminars (one on Sunday, one on Tuesday and one on Thursday) and meet individually with each participant on Friday to offer feedback on your first chapter, synopsis and Novel Mapping document (which Emma will help you develop during the seminars). Outside of these times, if you are a Studio Retreat who have independent time to write, if you are on a mentored retreat or course, you will develop your manuscript with dedicated writing time and feedback/teaching sessions. See the page for your particular course or retreat: Mentored Retreat, A Writer Prepares or A Writer Progresses

Travel Details: Free pick-up (Saturday) and drop-off (Saturday) at Nantes Atlantique International Airport (You can arrive via plane or train). Full details here.

  • Pick-up 17:15
  • Drop-off 13:15

Meals & Drinks:  Breakfast, lunch & dinner each day, including wine & cocktails. Coffee, tea, juices, soft drinks and snacks available all the time.

Accommodation: Misse guest rooms have been designed to be the perfect writer’s space year-round: you’ll have comfort, quiet, privacy and a wonderful view over your surroundings. All of our guest rooms have en suite bathrooms. For more details see our rooms page.

Cost: £250  extra to add to a Studio Retreat (£895 total). If you want to take part while on a Mentored Retreat, A Writer Prepares or A Writer Progresses it’s only £150 extra. The total price (includes EVERYTHING except travel to France). To secure a place a deposit of £300 is due at the time of booking; the balance is due 45 days before the course starts.