Introducing a new type of online novel-writing course.

The Howdunnit Machine

The Howdunnit Machine teaches you to write your novel, the way a pilot learns to fly: in a simulator. It’s a novel simulator, the first of its kind. The idea derives, in part, from my experience over the past six years teaching Oxford University’s online ‘Writing Fiction’ course. (A course which I conceived and wrote. You can find out more about it here.)

And in part it was inspired by the experience I acquired during my wilderness years trying to get published. During that time I started and abandoned many writing projects. Eventually, one day, I completed one. It was not a success, but the mere act of completion instilled in me an intuitive understanding of the task that was startling, almost an epiphany. Suddenly, I knew what it was I was supposed to be doing.

Includes Free Epiphany.

This course aims to evoke a similar almost epiphany.

As a Howdunnonaut you are invited to join a password-protected online ‘school house’. The activity takes place on forums inside this ‘school’, and generally you respond to simple questions that prompt, coax and draw you through the process. Some questions require a few sentences by way of answer, and others require you to write a short passage.

If you’ve done an online course before you will be familiar with the set-up. if you haven’t, don’t worry, it’s incredibly simple.


If you are interested, download the Prospectus

The course costs £175 for the ten weeks, which works out at about the price of a cappuccino a day.




Have you already completed a novel?

Try my new patent-pending ‘Slushbuster’.


The slush pile is where your novel will end up waiting to be read.

Before you submit it to one of the industry gatekeepers why not send it to me for a quick ‘once-over’?  The sad truth is, whether you send your novel directly to a publisher or to an agent, the person who reads it will be dreadfully overworked. In the first instance they will be looking for reasons to reject it. It’s just more efficient that way.

If it’s slipshod, hallmarked with easily avoidable amateurish errors, or is just a bit too slow, out it goes. It might even get binned before the end of the first paragraph.

Send me the first 2,500 words and I will send you a report on what I found wrong, along with suggestions on how to address the problems.  The fee for this will be £100.

Given how long and hard you laboured on the manuscript, and how you only have one shot at submitting, it would seem a no-brainer to get it checked out first. And you don’t have to send it to me, there are loads of authors out there who I am sure would perform the same service.