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Here’s a Novel Idea

Apply to the Novel Studio and join our growing list of published alumni.

The Novel Studio is City’s flagship novel writing programme which supports 15 selected students to work on their novels for a year.

The course has been the starting point for many successful novelists. From bestselling crime writer Harriet Tyce, whose fourth novel, A Lesson in Cruelty, was published with Wildfire earlier this month—and who generously initiated and funded our Novel Studio scholarship for four years—to debut novelist Lara Haworth, whose first novel, Monumenta, will be published with Canongate this summer, the Novel Studio has become recognised as a place to develop and grow as a writer.

From researching your ideas, plotting and planning to writing, editing and familiarising yourself with the publishing industry, the programme will guide you through the tricky terrain of novel writing.

Taught by established writers and editors, with opportunities to meet literary agents and publishing professionals, if you’re ready to take your novel writing to the next level, this course is for you.

As if that wasn’t enough, we offer a Literary Agent Competition for all successful applicants to the course, run in association with leading agent Lucy Luck at C&W Agency.

And for one talented writer from a low-income household, we have a fully-funded scholarship – The Captain Tasos Politis Scholarship.

Full details on all these opportunities and information on the course are available here.

Or you can apply directly with 2000 words of your fiction and a CV to Emily.Pedder.1@city.ac.uk

Deadline 30th June 5pm.

We look forward to reading your applications!

Essential Writing Tips for Accountants

By Maria Sigacheva

Wizards’ of numbers and bookkeeping, accountants also spend time corresponding with clients and tax officials. Here are some tips on how to write well for non-accountants.

“Your reputation rides out with every letter you send,” states co-founder of the Plain English Commission, Martin Cutts. So how can you ensure that your readers understand your communications clearly and easily? Read on for three tips to improve your copy.

1)  Stick to a Simple Structure

An accountant’s letter to the tax office or to your client should be clear and well structured. Clarity can be improved by using a tried and tested three-part structure: an introduction, the main body copy, and a conclusion.

 

The introduction should summarise the purpose of the letter. Whether it’s about missing documents or querying financial statements, make it clear upfront.

The main body copy (two or three paragraphs) should detail your main points in a logical order. Avoid repeating the same information twice. Make sure you order events chronologically.

In your concluding paragraph, let the recipient know if you require a response and by which date. Add your contact details too, so that they can easily reach you for any queries.

2) Ramp up Readability

  • Use plain English, and remove any jargon, if possible.
  • Use active verbs, for example “we thought” instead of “after a careful thought.”
  • Avoid outdated words, like thereof, herein, hereof.

Being concise is a skill. Let’s look at an example of a recent letter about tax affairs. “Your current amount due according to the records held by the tax office is £10,000.” This could be rewritten for clarity as “The total due to the tax office is £10,000.”

In The Journal of Accountancy, business writing trainer Elizabeth Danziger writes: “Strive for an average sentence length of 10 to 18 words.” How? Remove all “as well as,” “but,” “that,” and “which” – and split overly-lengthy sentences. Get straight to the point and clients will praise you for saving them time!

 

3) Perfect your Punctuation

Grammarly is a useful proofreading tool. Just copy and paste your text and the software will instantly highlight any errors. It’s also a good idea to read your copy out loud to check punctuation and flow.

By adhering to these simple tips, you can start to improve your business writing – and relationships – today.

 

Maria Sigacheva is an Indirect Tax Manager at Glencore, and an Association of Chartered Certified Accountants ambassador for early careers.

Maria took our Introduction to Copywriting short course with Maggie Richards. As part of the course, students have the opportunity to pitch a blog idea for our site. If successful, the post will be edited and published on the site.

 

The next Copywriting course, which runs monthly, is in May. Maggie also runs our Writing for Business course which starts next week.

For all our courses, visit our homepage HERE.

Lost and Found: How to deal with Life’s Big Changes

Author Alessandra Lewis with her family

 

By Alessandra Lewis

Feeling lost? Youre definitely not the only one. Alessandra Lewis reveals how overwhelming change led her to finding happiness.

 

In August 2023, I moved from a coastal town in England to Trentino in northern Italy with my parents and my brother. It was the start of one of the most transformative seasons of my life. I just didn’t know it at the time.

The conversations, the planning, the preparation: it all started over five years before. I’m half English and half Italian; growing up I spent many summers in Italy, visiting family and exploring this beautiful country.

After 20 years living in Dorset, we decided to switch the sea for Italian meadows and mountains. A change of lifestyle. A change of pace. Of course, I was excited. But most of all I was in denial. I was holding on so tightly to the last few months of my life

in England – in between working and packing boxes – that I didn’t want to miss anything by thinking too much about the future. By overthinking. By worrying.

I knew the move would bring an incredible amount of change, and I preferred to assume I was ready enough, rather than actually consider how prepared I was. My state of denial was a coping mechanism. And for me, it worked. Am I suggesting this is a good way of coping with life’s changes, big or small? Absolutely not. But, did it enable me to fully enjoy the last few months, before the move, with the people I love most? Yes. Yes, it did. And for that I’ll always be grateful.

You may be wondering why I’m divulging all of this. It’s simple really. At the time, to say I was a bit lost and confused would have been a huge understatement. Is it the right thing to do? What if I’m not happy there? Am I going to regret it? The truth is, even a month after moving, I still didn’t have answers to any of these questions. Everything felt overwhelming.

I was so happy to be in Italy; who wouldn’t? But being away from loved ones and adjusting to a new life here wasn’t easy. So, I took things one day at a time.That’s the thing about life, isn’t it? We’ll always be wondering whether we’re doing the right thing. And the answer will probably always be changing, just as life changes. But that’s okay.

New friends, new places, new ways of thinking. Just a few of the things I wouldn’t have discovered had we not moved. I also wouldn’t have settled on my ideal study path – writing – ultimately leading me to take Maggie Richards’ wonderful copywriting course. August 2023 may have been a month of big changes and doubts, but her masterclass provided certainty. And inspiration.

It’s in these moments – the ‘glimmers’ – when life feels good and things are looking up that we are reminded how important the tough moments are. After all, it’s often only because of them that we find where we’re truly meant to be.

Alessandra Lewis is an aspiring multilingual copywriter with a love for books and exploring new places. Alessandra took Maggie Richards’ Introduction to Copywriting course, which runs monthly. The next one is in May and you can book here. Maggie also teaches City’s Writing for Business course which starts next week. As part of both courses, we offer students the chance to pitch a blog idea which, if successful, will be edited and published on our site. For more information about all our short courses, visit our home page HERE.

How to Write Compelling Motivational Health Articles

By Spela Horjak

Are you currently dipping your toes into health-related motivational writing, but finding your articles just arent getting traction? In this short piece, were going to explore three important reasons why your posts may be failing – and the strategies you can start implementing today to create articles that will leave your readers feeling inspired!

 

Reason #1 – Youre not thinking about your audience

Whether you’re writing for an established audience or building up your blog readership, it’s crucial to consider who you’re writing for – whose attention you’re trying to secure.

For example, writing for Men’s Health or Age Matters magazine will be two completely different gigs. Not adjusting your writing to your audience may result in them feeling alienated and uninspired.

Reason #2 – Your advice is unclear

Remember, the purpose of health writing is to prompt the reader to make positive changes. Explaining concepts with examples helps people apply the advice to real-life situations and reduces any confusion.

For example, instead of just saying “Try having 20g protein per meal”, you could also provide a list of meal ideas, showing exactly what 20g of protein looks like. This allows your reader to implement the advice without further research.

 

Reason #3 – Youre telling the reader what to do

Telling the reader what ‘to do’ and what ‘not to do’ may come across as prescriptive and even leave them feeling hopeless. Try adding a positive spin to your messaging by explaining the likely outcome(s) of specific actions.

For example, instead of saying “Avoid too much salt in your diet”, say “Avoiding excessive salt intake will help maintain normal blood pressure”. This way, the reader can make an informed choice rather than follow blanket advice.

Which tip did you find most useful?

 

Author Spela Horjak

Spela Horjak is a registered Associate Nutritionist and Health & Wellness Copywriter.

As part of City’s Writing for Business and Introduction to Copywriting courses, we offer the chance for students to submit a piece for our blog which, if successful,  is then edited and published on our site. Spela was a student on Maggie Richards’ Introduction to Copywriting course. The next course starts 18 May and you can book HERE.

For all our writing short courses visit our home page HERE.

Empowering Change: How Women are Shaping the Future of Business

 

In the evolving landscape of business and entrepreneurship, the role of women is not just significant, it’s transformative. In 1984, there were 646,000 self-employed women in the UK. Today, that number has more than doubled to 1.6 million; women are now running more than 40% of UK micro-businesses; while 42.6% of FTSE100 directorships are now occupied by women. Read on for how women are driving change, fostering diversity, and reshaping the entrepreneurial landscape.

  1. Leadership Redefined: From boardrooms to startups, women are challenging traditional leadership norms and championing inclusive leadership styles. By fostering diverse teams and empowering individuals from all backgrounds, women leaders are creating environments conducive to innovation and growth.
  2. Entrepreneurial Trailblazers: From technology and finance to healthcare and sustainability, female entrepreneurs are driving innovation and addressing pressing global challenges. By leveraging their creativity, tenacity, and vision, women are reshaping industries, disrupting industries and creating new pathways for success.
  3. Diversity and Inclusion: Diversity is not just a buzzword; it’s a cornerstone of sustainable business practices. Women bring diverse perspectives, experiences, and skills to the table, enriching decision-making processes and driving organisational performance. Companies that prioritise diversity and inclusion reap benefits, including increased employee engagement, enhanced creativity, and improved bottom-line results. Women-led initiatives focused on promoting diversity and inclusion are paving the way for more equitable and inclusive workplaces.
  4. Social Impact and Sustainability: Female leaders are at the forefront of driving positive social change and environmental sustainability. From launching impact-driven ventures to advocating for sustainable business practices, women entrepreneurs are integrating social and environmental considerations into their business models. By prioritising purpose over profit, women-led businesses are not only driving financial returns but also creating meaningful societal impact and contributing to a more sustainable future.
  5. Mentorship and Empowerment: Mentorship plays a crucial role in nurturing the next generation of female leaders and entrepreneurs. Women mentors serve as role models, providing guidance, support, and encouragement to aspiring professionals. By sharing their knowledge, experiences, and networks, female mentors empower others to overcome challenges, seize opportunities, and achieve their full potential. Mentorship initiatives aimed at bridging the gender gap and promoting women’s leadership are instrumental in fostering a more inclusive and equitable business landscape.

Women are not just shaping the future of business; they are redefining it. Through their leadership, entrepreneurship, advocacy, and mentorship, women are driving meaningful change, fostering diversity, and advancing innovation across a range of industries. The contributions of women in business serve as a reminder of the importance of continuing to champion gender equality, embrace diversity, and create environments where all individuals can thrive and succeed.

To find out more about how a short course could help you develop your skills, gain confidence, and even start your own business, visit our full range of short courses HERE.

Summer Term 2024 at City Short Courses

 

Thank you to all who attended our Short Courses Open Evening last week. We had a great time meeting new students and introducing them to what we do here at City Short Courses. Many students took advantage of our free  taster sessions, which ranged across our six subject strands:  Business and Management; Computing; Creative Writing; Creative Industries; Languages; and Law. There were tasters in everything from Learning Python to Italian, Business Writing to Major Event Management.

If you didn’t have a chance to join us, never fear! There’s still time to browse our full range of 120 courses and book on for the summer term. Why not try Presentation Skills, or brush up on your French in time for holidays. Or you could consider applying for our year-long Novel Studio programme and finish that novel you’ve always wanted to write! Whether it’s personal development or adding a new skill to your CV, we have something for everyone here at City Short Courses.

If you’d like further information before making your decision, just email our team at shortcourses@city.ac.uk. If they can’t answer your questions, they’ll contact the relevant tutors and make sure you get the answer you need.

Your short course journey starts HERE. We can’t wait to welcome you.

 

City Writes Spring 2024 – Celebrating City’s Creative Writing Short Courses

Essential Business Skills for Startups

Whether you’re thinking about starting up a new business or developing your side hustle into something more long-term, there are some key skills you’ll need to develop.

  1. Strategic Planning: Every successful startup begins with a solid strategy. Strategic thinking involves analysing market trends, identifying opportunities, and developing a roadmap for growth. By honing your strategic planning skills, you can set clear objectives, anticipate challenges, and pivot when necessary to stay ahead in a competitive landscape.
  2. Financial Management and Budgeting: Financial literacy is crucial for startup founders. Understanding financial statements, managing cash flow, and budgeting effectively are essential skills for sustainable growth. By mastering financial management, you can make informed decisions, and ensure the financial health of your startup.
  3. Marketing: Reaching your target audience is vital for a successful startup. Marketing fundamentals include SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) digital marketing strategies, content creation, and branding techniques. By crafting compelling marketing campaigns and cultivating a strong brand identity, you can differentiate your startup and attract loyal customers.
  4. Leadership and Team Building:  As a startup founder, you may find that you’re the only team member for some time! But once your business starts to evolve, you’ll need to employ strong leadership skills to help you shape the culture and direction of your business. Effective leadership involves inspiring your team, fostering collaboration, and empowering others to succeed. By cultivating strong leadership qualities, you can build a cohesive team that shares your vision and drives collective growth.
  5. Networking: Building a robust network of contacts is invaluable in the startup ecosystem. Networking allows you to gain insights, forge partnerships, and access resources that can propel your startup forward. Invest time in building meaningful relationships with mentors, investors, and fellow entrepreneurs to expand your reach and unlock new opportunities.
  6. Adaptability and Resilience: Startups operate in a dynamic and unpredictable environment. The ability to adapt to change and navigate through challenges is essential for survival. Cultivate resilience by embracing failure as a learning opportunity, staying agile in your approach, and maintaining a positive mindset during setbacks. A good sense of humour doesn’t hurt either!

Mastering essential business skills is essential for startup founders and side hustlers looking to turn their vision into reality. By honing strategic thinking, financial management, marketing, leadership, networking, and resilience, you can position your startup for long-term success in a competitive marketplace. Embrace the journey of entrepreneurship with a commitment to continuous learning and growth, and you’ll be well-equipped to tackle the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Our next term starts at the end of April. For our full range of business and creative industry short courses, visit our dedicated page HERE. Taught by experts in their field, a short course is an excellent way to begin to develop your essential business skills.

City Writes Spring 2024 Competition Winners Announced

By Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

We are delighted to announce the winners of this term’s City Writes competition. City Writes is the showcase event for all the brilliant writing coming from City’s creative writing short courses and we have a fantastic line up for you this term on Wednesday 27th March at 7pm.

Reading at the event alongside published Novel Studio alumni Laurence Kershook and Katharine Light, our competition winners are: Jill Craig, Katie Hunt, Seyi Falodun-Liburd, Tess Pendle and David Strickland. Read on to find out more about our winners.

Current Novel Studio student, Jill Craig is originally from Northern Ireland, but currently lives and works as a secondary teacher in the North-West. She has lived in Greece and France and thinks often of going abroad again. An avid reader, she has published several short stories, with Freckle,  Egg & Frog and Literally Stories, and is working on the first draft of a novel.

Narrative Non-Fiction student Katie Hunt has been a journalist for more than two decades, working for several international news organisations including Reuters and BBC News. She lived in Asia for more than ten years, with stints in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand. For the past four years, she has covered science and health for CNN in London. She hopes to write a non-fiction, popular science book about human origins focused on the latest discoveries in Asia.

Seyi Falodun-Liburd is a Nigerian campaigner and organiser from London. She is currently co-director of Level Up, a feminist campaigning community working towards a world where people of all genders are loved and liberated from bodily and systemic violence. She is also a member of Project Tallawah, a community resource for Black and Global Majority women and gender-expansive people in the UK. Seyi is a fledgling writer and Narrative Non-Fiction student who has written about gender-based violence for iNews, gal-dem and Refinery29.

Tess Pendle is a Narrative Non-Fiction student. After working for many years as a broker at Lloyd’s of London, Tess decided to contribute to a social project. She moved to Burkina Faso, where she worked for three years with a local women’s organisation to develop a microfinance programme supporting female entrepreneurs. On her return to the UK, she set up and managed both a national not-for-profit credit business and a £100 million government fund to invest in social enterprises. Tess is currently self employed and lives in Chelmsford with her partner.

An alumnus of the old Towards Publication course, now called Writers’ Workshop, D.P. Strickland is a neurodivergent writer with an MA in Creative Writing from UEA, whose work has previously appeared in anthologies and journals. He is particularly interested in underrepresented perspectives in fiction and recently completed a novel about a fundamental religion based on his own childhood experience. He lives in London and can be found on Instagram.

Now you know more about our winners, don’t forget to sign up for the event on Wednesday 27th March at 7.30pm on Zoom. You’ll be treated to stories of sticky summer heat, discoveries of ancient jaw bones, the disappointment of a young boy never quite right for the popular crowd and an exploration of the politics of our daily choices. All this alongside readings from our published authors, Laurence Kershook and Katherine Light. It’s going to be brilliant.

Register for tickets here and see you there.

And if anyone wants to come along and find out more about our writing courses, we are running a free taster session and open evening the night before City Writes. See here for more information about how to register.

Novel Studio alumna Katharine Light shortlisted for 2024 Selfies Book Awards

We were delighted to discover that Novel Studio alumna Katharine Light has been shortlisted for the 2024 Selfies Book Awards for her debut novel, Like Me.

Launched by BookBrunch in 2018 to recognise excellence in the self-publishing market, the awards are sponsored by Ingram’s self-publishing platform, IngramSpark®, and are run in association with the London Book Fair and Nielsen BookData.

The winners will be announced at this year’s London Book Fair on Tuesday 12 March.

Also on the adult fiction shortlist with Katharine are Shooters by Julia Boggio, Ostler by Susan Grossey, Hidden Depths by Jason Mann, Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Alice McVeigh, The Eagle and The Cockerel by Alan Rhode and Artificial Wisdom by Thomas R Weaver.

Katharine will be one of our guests at the spring term City Writes on 27 March, so if you want to hear her read and talk about her path to publication, do register here.

And if you want to find out more about the Novel Studio, the course Katharine took at City, come and meet one of our tutors, Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone, who will be manning the Novel Studio enquiry desk at our free short course taster event on March 26.

Congratulations to Katharine and all the shortlisted writers. We look forward to hearing more next week!

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