Writing Better Fiction

with William Ryan

June 6, 2023 • 4 week master class

Meet online at Scribophile and via instructor-led Zoom video chat

Perfect for
Beginning writers or writers with some experience who would like to improve

Small class size • Seats are limited

May 19 update: William Ryan is shortlisted for the 2023 CWA Gold Dagger Prize for his novel A Winter Guest!

Writing Better Fiction is an introduction to the essential elements of storytelling and fiction, and a perfect opportunity to learn about the nuts and bolts of the writing process.

Critically-acclaimed author William Ryan will guide you and a small group of writers through the fundamentals of powerful fiction in just four weeks. You’ll learn the principles of effective storytelling and how to apply them; you’ll develop your confidence as a writer; and you’ll receive invaluable critical feedback on your assignments.

This class is ideal for new and emerging writers who want personal guidance on the core techniques that succesful writers employ. More experienced writers will also enjoy this invigorating refresher on the foundational tenets of good fiction. Writers of all genres are welcomed, as good fiction transcends genre.

During the class you’ll complete fun exercises and submit them for written feedback from William and your peers in a friendly and constructive workshop environment. No previously written material is required.

You’ll leave the class armed with the tools and techniques expert writers use to write compelling stories, and you’ll feel confident in your ability to write powerful stories of your own, in any genre.

Some of William’s career highlights

City, University of London The Guardian Guide to How to Write House of Ghosts University of East Anglia Irish Writers Centre The Bloody Meadow The Constant Soldier The Holy Thief The Twelfth Department The Winter Guest Writers & Aritists

What you’ll learn

After you finish this class, you’ll:

  • Get personal written feedback from William on your submissions.

  • Understand and appreciate the restrictions and advantages of point of view narration.

  • Have considered how to begin scenes, how to end them, and how to lead in to the next one.

  • Understand the importance of control, conflict, and risk in fiction, particularly in writing scenes.

  • Know how to approach writing setting, place, and atmosphere.

  • Have explored how to write dialogue and how to make it visible to the reader.

Class outline

  • Week One: Techniques of prose fiction: point of view, structure, characters, and conflict

  • Week Two: Writing settings, conductin and using research, creating atmosphere, and identifying your story’s dramatic world

  • Week Three: Identifying the purpose of scenes, beginning and ending scenes, subtext, conflict as a means of enhancing dramatic complexity

  • Week Four: Dialogue, its place in well-written fiction, and the importance of conflict, motivation and control in dialogue

Student praise for William Ryan

Joining the W&A course with Bill Ryan was a real turning point for a floundering writer! The combination of teaching, talks and workshopping gave me the skills to structure, critique and edit my novel properly. Bill is both kind and exacting—the perfect combination for guiding writers to improve and go forward to submission to agents and publishers. He is extremely generous with his time and feedback, creating a supportive and constructive space to examine your own and fellow students’ work. This has extended beyond the course: several of us still meet monthly to share and discuss our writing. I highly recommend Bill’s course and teaching—it was a fantastic investment and a lot of fun.

—Heather Critchlow, author of Unsolved (Canelo Crime), publishing in May 2023

Taking Bill Ryan’s novel course was one of the best decisions I have made as a writer. His classes combined useful lessons on crafting a novel in all its component parts with the close reading of each writer’s text. His insightful critique of my prose cut to the heart of what did and did not work in the scene, and his kind encouragement left me motivated to keep pushing myself to grow as a writer. All this while creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere where students felt confident to share their work.

—Tammye Huf, author of A More Perfect Union (Myriad Editions)

Bill gently teases the story out, with the sort of questions readers would ask. He helps writers understand that every sentence is important, that every conversation must add to the overall narrative arc, and that there is no valid “filler.” His feedback plus the feedback of others on the course, was invaluable for getting outside the writer’s point of view and into the reader’s.

—Michele Kirsch, author of Clean (Short Books), winner of the RSL Christopher Bland Prize

I was very impressed with the amount of work Bill put in, and the overall standard of work was very high indeed. It was a good catalyst for getting people writing, and the criticism from other students was, in the main, helpful.

—Liz Newman

This was superb. One of the best writing courses I’ve been on.


Thank you for a useful and inspiring course. The weeks flew. I feel I’ve improved as a writer and also as a reader; I find I’m looking for the ‘strings’ when I’m reading published novels now, and marvelling when an author has hidden them well. The tutor was encouraging, as were the other writers on the course. Some of us are keeping in touch to give continued feedback on one another’s work.

—Marie Kreft

This was my first course on creative writing and I feel like a whole new world has opened up for me. I can now see so many more ways to improve my writing. Now I just need to put them into practice. Bill was patient and encouraging for those who needed support to boost their confidence. He created an environment that urged improvement in a comfortable way. Thank you!

—Beth Rehman

This was the first online course I’ve taken. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was delighted. I learned so much from Bill’s feedback in the workshops—not just with me but also with the other participants. And I gained a lot too from exchanging feedback with my fellow course participants. I don’t hesitate to recommend the course to anyone with a first novel in progress.

—John Nixon

I have been on courses before, but haven’t experienced such a solid, useful mix of the tools of the trade and feedback. Inspiring, practical, enjoyable.

—Clare Palmer

Bill gave very detailed feedback, sometimes quite challenging. He made a real effort to balance criticism with encouragement—not easy […] There was a real sense of progress, especially in the last couple of weeks where everyone seemed to have raised their game. […] Insightful. Challenging. Encouraging.

—Stuart Blake

Zoom schedule

Along with these Zoom calls, you’ll also spend time taking in lectures and chatting on Scribophile over the course of the class. All Zoom calls are recorded, so if you miss one you can review it later.

  • Tuesday June 6, 2023 12:00pm US Central time — 2 hours 30 minutes

  • Tuesday June 13, 2023 12:00pm US Central time — 2 hours 30 minutes

  • Tuesday June 20, 2023 12:00pm US Central time — 2 hours 30 minutes

  • Tuesday June 27, 2023 12:00pm US Central time — 2 hours 30 minutes

How this workshop works

This class is conducted entirely online, on Scribophile and via Zoom videoconference. Participate from anywhere in the world!

You’ll join the instructor and your fellow students in a private group hosted on Scribophile. Take in reading and assignments at your own speed, and discuss them with the instructor and your classmates in the online class discussion forum.

You’ll also participate in Zoom videoconferences with the instructor and your classmates so you can get live lessons and insights, and ask questions in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Videoconferences will be recorded, so you can review them later if you missed them.

Questions about this class?

We’re happy to answer any questions you might have!

About William Ryan

William Ryan

William Ryan is the Irish author of six novels. They include, as William Ryan, the Moscow Noir series set in 1930s USSR (The Holy Thief, The Bloody Meadow and The Twelfth Department) and The Constant Soldier, set in Nazi Germany at the end of World War II and due to be published in the US in November 2023. As W.C. Ryan, he has published 2 further novels, A House of Ghosts and The Winter Guest. They have been shortlisted for numerous awards, including the Irish Fiction Award, the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year, the Historical Writers Association’s Gold Crown, The Irish Crime Fiction Award (4 times), a Barry Award, and the Crime Writer Association’s Steel, Historical and New Blood Daggers.

William has also taught Creative Writing at City, University of London and The University of East Anglia, as well as teaching regular courses for Writers & Artists, Guardian Masterclasses and The Irish Writers Centre. He is the author, with Matthew Hall, of Introduction to Writing Crime Fiction for Guardian Masterclasses while his Guide to How to Write: How to Plan, Structure and Write Your Novel was published in 2021 by Writers & Artists. He has tutored or taught more than 30 aspiring novelists who have gone on to be traditionally published, and many more self-published.

William lives in London with his son and is a keen cyclist and licensed mudlark. He is a member of The Detection Club.

Other workshops starting soon

June 6, 2023
4 week master class

Small class size
Seats are limited

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