Finish your novel and get ready for publication

with our six-month online programme for historical fiction writers.

Writing a novel can be daunting. Writing about the past – with all the historical research and pressure to 'get it right' – can be especially challenging. Many talented writers fail to finish a novel or see their work published. Perhaps they struggle with self-doubt, lack time or discipline, or are overwhelmed by the world of publishing, which can seem confusing and out-of-reach.

We can help. Our six-month programme combines online lessons, supportive feedback, and advice from top industry experts, all designed to help writers of historical fiction take their writing to the next level.

Supported by the world’s largest organisation for readers and writers of historical fiction, and delivered by published authors and experienced tutors, our specialist course is the only one of its kind.

Whether you are just getting started or have a novel-in-progress, our Historical Fiction Masterclass will help you write stories that captivate readers and learn how to get your work ready for publication.

Our programme is for you if…

  • You want to tell authentic and compelling stories set in the past

  • You're working on a first novel (or your first novel set in the past) and want help with the specific challenges of historical fiction

  • You want to get your novel-in-progress finished and ready for publication

  • You struggle to make time for your writing, or you’re stuck midway through a project

  • You’ll benefit from working with a supportive group of fellow writers and expert tutors with a wealth of industry experience

  • You’re ready to dedicate time to your writing and learn from the best in the business

Our next programme runs from January 4 2021 to July 2 2021

Deadline for applications is 12pm on Sunday 8th November 2020 (GMT).

What's included?

  • Course Content

    Exclusive online lessons on aspects of writing historical fiction, plus a host of tips and exercises to help you put your learning into practice. Work through the course at a time that suits you and join your fellow writers in a private discussion space.

  • Monthly Masterclasses

    Live Q&As and masterclasses with bestselling and prize-winning authors and industry experts on everything from research to publication. Previous guests include Emma Darwin, Bernice L. McFadden, Andrew Taylor and Suzannah Dunn.

  • Writing Workshops

    Fortnightly group feedback sessions to hone your editing skills in a friendly and supportive environment. You’ll get two workshops dedicated to your work-in-progress and give feedback for others in return.

  • One-to-One Coaching

    During your programme you’ll have two private tutorials with lead tutor and writing coach Katherine Clements. Use these sessions to get feedback on your writing or discuss anything to do with your writing goals.

  • Regular Drop-In Sessions

    Regular Zoom calls with your tutor and fellow students where you can ask questions, seek advice and get live feedback on your writing.

  • Literary Agent Q&A

    Live Q&A with two top literary agents from the UK and US. Ask your questions about the market for historical fiction, submissions and what will and won’t get you a publishing deal.

Course curriculum

  • 1


    • Meet your lead tutor and fellow students and master the practicalities of the course.

  • 2

    Kickstart your Story Engine

    • In this module you'll learn effective tools for generating winning story ideas, how to take inspiration from history, and how to craft a great opening for your novel.

  • 3

    Reading as a Writer

    • You'll find your inner editor and learn how to give constructive feedback. We'll also set guidelines for workshop sessions and critiques during the programme.

  • 4

    Creating Compelling Characters

    • You'll explore what makes compelling characters that readers love. You'll cover ways to bring your characters to life, writing 'real' people vs imagined characters in historical fiction and the challenges of reimagining historical figures.

  • 5

    Skilful Storytelling

    • You'll get practical in this module, covering plot building and structure, advanced storytelling techniques and how to deal with multiple narrators and dual timelines.

  • 6

    Confident Writing Craft

    • You'll look at key technical aspects of writing and how they apply to historical fiction, including tenses, point of view, and narrative voice.

  • 7

    Developing Dialogue

    • You'll learn how to write effective dialogue with authenticity in historical fiction. We'll also discuss convincing ways to use non-verbal communication in your writing.

  • 8

    Preparing for Publication

    • In this concluding module, you'll prepare your manuscript for submission and learn how to write a synopsis and query letter. You'll take part in a live Q&A with top literary agents from the UK & US.

Course Tutors

Our programme is led by author and writing coach, Katherine Clements. Guest tutors include bestselling authors Emma Darwin, Suzannah Dunn, Andrew Taylor, Bernice L. McFadden and more.

Lead Tutor

Katherine Clements

Katherine will be your lead tutor, guiding you through the programme from start to finish. She is the author of three historical novels published by Headline. Her latest book, The Coffin Path, was an Amazon bestseller and was nominated for the HWA Gold Crown Award. Katherine has worked in training and education for over two decades: she was lead developer on the UK’s first A Level in Creative Writing, coaches university students on writing matters as a Royal Literary Fund Fellow, and was awarded a Fulbright Scholar Award in 2018. She is a writing coach and mentor and is working toward her Diploma with the Coaching Academy.

Guest Tutor

Andrew Taylor

Andrew Taylor has written over 45 books, mostly crime and historical fiction novels. He is the author of the ground-breaking Roth Trilogy, which was adapted into the acclaimed drama Fallen Angel, and the historical crime novels The Ashes of London, The Silent Boy, and The American Boy, a No.1 Sunday Times bestseller and a 2005 Richard & Judy Book Club Choice. He has won many awards, including the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Award (the only author to win it three times) and the CWA’s prestigious Diamond Dagger. Andrew teaches for the Arvon Foundation and regularly hosts events at literary festivals, bookshops and libraries, as well as serving as a judge for numerous literary prizes. His latest novel, The Last Protector, was released in April 2020.

Guest Tutor

Suzannah Dunn

Suzannah Dunn is the author of thirteen books. She wrote six critically acclaimed contemporary novels and a short story collection before her first historical novel, The Queen of Subtleties, was published in 2004. It has been followed by five more Tudor novels including The Confession of Katherine Howard and The Lady of Misrule. She has sold over a quarter of a million copies of her historical novels in the UK alone. Her latest historical novel The Testimony of Alys Twist will be published September 2020 by Little, Brown. Suzannah was Director of the MA in Novel Writing at Manchester University for six years and has taught many courses for the Arvon Foundation and Curtis Brown Creative.


Are you ready to write a historical novel that captivates readers, agents and publishers? You have two payment options...

One payment of £900 or six payments of £180 (£1050)

HNS Members' 10% discount: One payment of £810 or six payments of £150 (£900)

(Payment will be in GBP and prices in other currencies will depend on exchange rates.)

Ready to apply?

  • Send your application by email to by 12pm Sunday 8th November 2020 (GMT), following the instructions below.

  • Attach up to 3000 words of your writing as a separate Word or PDF document. In the same document, include a brief synopsis of the project you wish to work on during the programme (just a paragraph or two is fine).

  • Make sure that your submission document is clearly labelled with your name.

  • In your email, tell us briefly why you think this programme is right for you.

  • Make sure your submission reaches us by 12pm on Sunday 8th November 2020 (GMT).

  • We'll let you know if you've been selected before the end of November 2020.

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What people are saying...

'I've made huge progress with my writing'

Monique M., Manchester University Student

Working with Katherine has been invaluable. I've learned how to make my writing so much better and have made huge progress as a result. What a great resource!

'Custom-made for historical novelists'

Current HNS Masterclass student

Custom-made for historical novelists, this class, its activities and exercises, and most importantly, the excellent instructor advice, will stimulate your brain and help you write that historical work of fiction you envisioned.

'Inspiring, engaging and professional'

Dr. Eileen Angelini, East Carolina University

With students, Katherine's experience and expertise as a writer really shined through and her generous, informal teaching style created a safe space for participants to experiment with new ideas.

'Big breakthroughs!'

Current HNS Masterclass student

The biggest breakthrough for me has been actually sitting down and writing a few scenes. The research for my novel has paralyzed me for a long time and I found that I enjoyed doing the research a little too much. Now barriers have been broken and I can actually move forward with the writing. During these troubled times, this class has been a source of great joy.

'I could not recommend her more!'

Anna M. Manchester University Student

Katherine is especially warm, friendly and highly motivated to bring out the best in everyone’s writing! Could not recommend her more!

'Just what I needed'

Current HNS Masterclass student

I signed up for the course to help me keep on track writing my novel, and it has certainly done so. A great inspiration and a timely reminder of all the elements that go into a novel. The course is just what I needed when I needed it.


  • What counts as historical fiction?

    We're sticking with the definition of historical fiction used in the HNS reviews policy: novels set at least 50 years in the past.

  • I write short stories. Is this programme right for me?

    The programme has been developed with longer works in mind, but the content will be equally useful for those working on short stories or novellas set in the past.

  • I live in the US/Australia/Timbuktu. Can I join the programme?

    You can take part from anywhere in the world. Do be aware that the course is UK based. All live events will take place during UK daytime hours (usually between 12pm-7pm UK time). You are free to work through the content in your own time, joining dedicated online discussions for each learning module/workshop session.

  • How much time will the course take?

    We expect you to dedicate a few hours each week to working through the lessons and taking part in group feedback. Of course, you'll need to put time aside for your own writing too. There will be three week-long breaks over the six months.

  • What if I can't make live classes?

    All live events will be recorded, so nobody will miss out. Be aware that all live events will take place during UK daytime hours (usually between 12pm & 7pm UK time).

  • What technology will I need to participate?

    To access our online learning platform you will simply need a computer and internet access. To participate in live events you will need a computer or phone with a webcam/camera and microphone. You will need to download the Zoom app on whichever device you are using.

  • I want to publish my novel independently. Will this programme teach me how?

    This programme will support you as you get your novel finished and edited so you are ready to publish. It won't cover the practicalities of self-publishing.

  • How does the payment plan work?

    Payment will be by Paypal or credit card. If you are offered a place you'll receive full details of how to pay. Your place will be confirmed when we receive your payment, either the full amount or your first monthly payment. Payment will be in GBP and prices in other currencies will depend on exchange rates. You can find out more about Paypal exchange rates for your currency on the Paypal website.

  • Can I join the HNS now and get the members' discount?

    Yes! Please join the society here:

Are you ready to hone your writing craft, finish your novel and get it ready for publication?

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