A one-year professional development programme

Apprenticeships in Fiction has a firmly established reputation for turning out professional novelists. A number of annual one-year placements are available in every genre including literary fiction, crime and children’s fiction (ages 11-16). The original boot camp for writers – the scheme has an unprecedented success rate with over eight publications and many writers now working with literary agents.


Set up in 2005, Apprenticeships in Fiction it was the first mentoring scheme for writers in the UK and the only one solely dedicated to fiction.

The scheme is aimed at aspiring novelists who have already made a considerable commitment to the development of their practice and would benefit from a year of transitional support.

Our unique six-stage developmental programme is designed to prepare writers for publication. Over the course of the year, we will be grappling with the key elements of successful fiction (plot, premise and character development), taking a rigorous approach to technical issues such as structure and point of view, as well as tackling what constitutes the perfect submission package.The placements take the form of an apprenticeship with a professional writer working in a similar genre. Candidates are selected from open competition, with a limited number of places available every year.

Apprenticeships in Fiction aims to encourage diversity, excellence and originality.

The programme

Apprenticeships in Fiction is a structured, supervised year-long individual study programme. Apprentices benefit from engaging directly with an experienced writer who will guide them through the process of writing a first novel, from first draft to completion.

It includes:

  • Individual attention from a writer working in the same genre.
  • Four one-to-one sessions via Zoom, FaceTime or phone.
  • Four progressive written appraisals at key stages.
  • A detailed guide to writing the perfect submission package.

At the end of the year, apprentices will ‘graduate’ with an objective overview of their own work and a clear grasp of the requirements of the publishing industry.


Payment Fee: £2,500.00 (inclusive)

Apprenticeships In Fiction is a non-profit making scheme designed to support writers, both as apprentices and mentors.

The Skull in the Wood

Sandra Greaves

‘Working my mentor, Catherine, was a revelation – her judgment was spot-on and she put a huge amount of thought into how to tackle problem areas in my book.  And when you’ve rewritten your synopsis for the umpteenth time, it slowly dawns on you what agents are really after! AiF aims to prepare you for publication rather than simply explore your writing skills – great news for aspiring novelists.”

Sandra’s novel won the SCBWI Undiscovered Voices Award 2012, was published by Chicken House in 2013 and shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Award 2014.

Hunting Shadows

Sheila Bugler – (Brandon 2013)

Read Sheila Bugler On Being an Apprentice

(Originally published in Words with Jam 2010)

Ten good reasons for choosing the scheme

We focus exclusively on the particular demands of writing a novel. We are the only programme in the UK solely dedicated to this form.

We deal with the complete manuscript. (Other programmes and MA’s read and/or workshop short sections of 5000 words. We read and appraise the complete manuscript twice with a further two partial readings of sections of up to 160,000 words.)

The duration of the programme is a full year. (An academic year is nine months.)

We offer unprecedented value for money. Our year long programme provides twice as much input as any other scheme or programme. (More than 78 hours individual attention in the form of reading/assessment and one-to-one’s.)

We offer a writer-oriented approach. Our programme has been devised for novelists – by novelists who fully understand every stage of the creative process.

We are the market leader in mentoring for writers. We have invested over ten years experience in the development of our unique six-stage programme.

We only use experienced mentors. In addition to expertise in teaching and consultancy, our mentors have a proven commitment to nurturing new talent.

All our mentors are distinguished mid-career novelists.

We will only select aspiring writers who demonstrate outstanding talent. We will only offer you a placement if we genuinely feel that you will benefit.

We make a personal commitment to all the apprentices we work with. We keep intake small so that we can pay close attention to your progress.

Success Stories

Lament for a Siege Town. Clare Hawkins. (Red Lion Books 2015)

The Skull in the Wood. Sandra Greaves. (Chicken House 2013)

Hunting Shadows. Sheila Bugler. (Brandon 2013)

The Sun Hasn’t Fallen From the Sky. Alison Gangel. (Bloomsbury 2011)

Stretching It. Mandy Sutter. (Indigo Dreams 2013)

The Sacrificial Man. Ruth Dugdall. (Legend Press 2012)

The Tyranny of the Blood. Jo Reed. (Wild Wolf Press 2011)

Inside Out. Andrew Theophilou. (Legend Press 2007)

Apprenticeship Feedback

“Having this quality of feedback on all areas of the novel, from the complete picture to the detailed level of style and mechanics was extremely valuable and is probably a rare experience for most novice writers, even within formal writing courses. This is an excellent scheme for aspiring writers. I would have no hesitation in recommending it to others who are keen to advance their writing for personal and professional purposes.”
Clare Hawkins

“The mentoring was invaluable, but more importantly the validation as a writer was priceless.”
Alison Gangel

“I began to look at my work with fresh eyes and take a completely new approach to writing. I feel indebted to Adventures in Fiction even now.”
Andrew Theophilou

“There are issues I never suspected and I can see there is a fair bit of work to do. But it’s wonderful to get such a good sense of where I need to put this work in, and is a complete breath of fresh air after all the struggling alone.”
Mandy Sutter

“The Apprenticeship has been a great experience. The generous advice I have received from my author-mentor over the last year has been invaluable in helping me to develop my writing. In the course of the programme I have gained insights from writers and other industry professionals that I could not have learned elsewhere. As a result I feel I can now approach a career as a writer armed with confidence and a much more professional attitude towards the craft than when I entered the programme a year ago. The last year has been intensive, but I can now look back knowing that I am much closer to my goal of a career as a professional writer.”
Jo Reed

“One of the reasons I applied for this scheme was that it was the only mentoring programme that offers one-to-one mentoring with an established writer in the genre I’m writing in. For me, above all else, this has been invaluable. I feel that Martyn Waites really understood what I was trying to achieve – he ‘got’ it. I’m not sure I would have got the same response from a non-crime writer. There is absolutely no way I would have made as much progress as I have this year if it wasn’t for his input.”
Sheila Bugler

“Working with Laura Wilson was an amazing opportunity, which has helped me develop as a writer immensely. She helped me to identify the central themes of my novel and to understand where I fit within the market. I have been very privileged to have this opportunity.”
Ruth Dugdall

Apprenticeships in Fiction

Email Apprenticeships with any initial queries. If you have a particular mentor in mind, let us know.

Please note: Apprenticeships are aimed at writers who are aiming for publication and have completed a full or almost full draft of their manuscript.

Like a Chat?

Writers Surgery is an excellent introduction to working with us. (We offer £100.00 discount on Writers Toolkit booked within three months of your Writers Surgery appointment.) Find out more.

For a more informal chat (Zoom or phone) email us with a short note about you and your work, what you would like to achieve and some indication of your availability and we will contact you with a time slot.

We look forward to hearing from you!

How to apply

Email Apprenticeships with the following:

A cover email including title, genre, total word count, stage of completion along with the following (word doc or docx) attachments:

  • Manuscript extract. (Up to 15 pages/5000 words. Numbered. Double spaced.)
  • Synopsis (One page)
  • A one page statement including the following information:

(i) A personal profile, inc. background & writing experience. This may include information about how long you have been working on your novel, stage reached, courses attended, and how you feel you may benefit from the scheme.

(ii) Time Management. How you envisage balancing the demands of the programme with your personal commitments.

We will confirm receipt.

What happens next?

We will consider your application within three weeks.

If we do not feel the Apprenticeship is right for you at this stage, we will provide feedback and a possible next step. Writers Toolkit may be an option.

If successful, we will formally offer you a place and discuss mentor options with you.


Fees are payable by direct bank transfer. We will send details when we offer you a place.


Send us a formal acceptance via email along with confirmation of fee payment.

We will acknowledge receipt, confirm your mentor, send a programme timetable and agree on a start date with you.

Your mentor will then contact you.


Selection Fee Payment

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