FAQs

What makes Chalk the Sun courses different?

When you sign up to a course, you’re not just another student; you’re joining the Chalk the Sun community. All our classes are small, relaxed and give every writer a chance to share their work regularly. There’s a good standard of writing in class to entertain and inspire you. Our feedback is constructive, detailed and geared to your needs.

We won’t let you waste your money if we really don’t feel you will benefit from studying with us, and when you’ve joined, we won’t waste your writing time by asking you to fill out irrelevant forms. We organise fabulous social events for our students including regular Wrote It? Quote It! Story Stand-Up evenings and theatre trips (especially if a Sunchalker wrote the play!)

We also offer an all-inclusive residential retreat in Puglia, Italy and 5-day writing courses in Andalusia, Spain.

Who will be teaching me?
All our courses are taught by working writers, producers, editors and publishers with solid media experience as well as academic and teaching qualifications. We have enhanced CRB checks. Read our tutors’ profiles on our Tutors’ page.

You will have the opportunity for tuition and feedback from more than one tutor, so you get a variety of views on your work.

How do I know if the course is right for me?
See our course descriptions for a summary of the course contents. Our class sizes are small and materials are carefully chosen to suit different interests and abilities. You can phone or email us if you have a specific query. Or come to one of our Saturday workshops as a taster and ask us in person.

How are the classes and workshops structured?
For the weekly classes, we focus on a different topic each session, with assignments to complete at home.

During classes and workshops, we do writing exercises that use inventive, original materials and incorporate texts that range from the classic to the contemporary. All our courses involve sharing your work and receiving feedback.

Each Writers’ Room workshop stands alone so missing one will not affect your progress: you will receive materials for each session.

If you have a particular interest in a topic featured in one of the other courses you can use one of your credits to attend providing you check with us to see if we have a free place. For example, you might be on our Writers’ Room course but get an idea for a script aimed at children so it would make sense to join our Children’s  Fiction course for the animation or TV session.

How do I get feedback?

You can share your work and get focused feedback from your tutors and colleagues. (If you’re shy we will read work for you!) If you need specialised feedback (e.g. on scriptwriting) we will refer you to the right tutor for your work. We provide between-class email support plus written critiques.

Novels, scripts and longer pieces can be read by separate arrangement. (See manuscript reading services)

What if I miss a class?
We hope that you will make a commitment for the full duration of the course but if problems arise we will help you catch up via email, Skype or in person before a class.

Writers’ Room students can attend their 5 or 10 ‘stand alone’ sessions within  8/16 months of enrolling. If you notify us you can make up a session on another day which is great for shift workers.

What should I bring to the first class?
All you need to bring is yourself, a pen, paper and a notebook. We will provide you with handouts and exercises as hard copies and via email after each session.

What if I have to cancel my course?
If you have to cancel or drop out of a course, we will credit you for a future one. If you cancel in writing 28 days before your course starts we will give you a refund minus an admin fee of £20.00.

What’s this about end of course readings, performances and wine?
We hold regular Wrote It? Quote it! Story Stand-up evenings with guest poets and performers, when you can read extracts of your work and meet other writers,

How do I pay for my course?
Payment is easy via Paypal or Hotcourses on our website, or by cheque. Click here for details.

I’ve written a novel. Can I get advice on it? Can I get my book edited before I send it to publishers?
Chalk the Sun offers a number of manuscript reading and editing services. Manuscripts vary so you will need to submit a sample of your work to receive a quote on the fee.

When do I pay for the manuscript reading service?
We ask for 50% of the agreed payment in advance, with the balance to be paid on receipt of the feedback report.

I have a great idea and some notes for a screenplay but I’m not sure if it is really worth developing?
Chalk the Sun offers one to one developmental tutorials which will help you decide if your idea ‘has legs’ and how to take it to the next stage.

My novel is stuck at 40,000 words and I need help but I am not ready for a first draft edit – what can I do?
Chalk the Sun  One to One Developmental Tutorials could provide you with the specialist advice you need  plus an interim report from our manuscript reading and editing service.  See here for prices.

Distance-learning Options

Can anyone enrol on a distance-learning course?
We only accept students who we feel can benefit from studying with us. Before you start we will ask you to complete a questionnaire to assess your level and interests as a writer and make sure we’re able to offer you the correct course. We are interested in imagination and enthusiasm, not formal educational qualifications.

What level are the distance-learning courses?
Our distance learning packages follow the same structure as our classes but are personalised so the content and level can be adjusted to suit you whether you are a beginner or an experienced writer halfway through a novel.

When do the distance learning courses start?
Unlike regular colleges, distance learning has no term dates and is designed to be completely flexible for each student. You can choose when you wish to start your course and can study at your own pace.

Is there a time limit for completing distance learning courses?
Most of our courses have no time limit for completion but we think three to six months is about right, or for the Writers’ Room courses six months to a year. This will allow you to work at your own pace, without any strict deadlines.

We don’t recommend that you complete the course in less than three months, even if you have lots of time to write, because ideas and skills take time to develop and you may not reach your full potential if you rush.

If your life gets busy and you need a year or more, that’s fine by us.

What is included in the cost of my distance learning course?
Your course includes structured materials with individual exercises and notes, one-to-one time with your tutor, and advice and feedback on your progress.

As soon as you enrol, you will receive, via email, resource lists of websites, writers’ organizations and optional reading lists plus a useful guide on the practice of writing. The initial exercises and module one will be included so you can start work immediately. Modules will reflect your interests, strengths, weaknesses and overall progress.

We won’t send you Chalk the Sun pencils, mouse mats, certificates or other gimmicks, just carefully selected extracts, inventive exercises and personalised assignments.

If your tutor thinks you need specialist input (e.g. on scriptwriting), he or she will refer your work to another member of our team for a second opinion or specific advice.

Why are distance learning courses more expensive?
Distance-learning students get one-to-one tuition and support with personalised materials. The activities and exercises, which can be completed in a few hours in a classroom situation, are carefully staged so that you do them over a longer period of time to get the full benefit of the learning experience.

How do I get feedback on my work on a distance learning course?
Usually your exercises and writing will be read and returned to you via email within 7 days. You can discuss your feedback and ask questions via email, phone or Skype.

You will also be given a written critique on one longer piece of writing at the end of your course. If it’s possible, you can have a one hour face-to-face consultation with your tutor.

What do I do if I need help on my distance learning course?
Your personal tutor will be contactable by phone, Skype or email if you have any questions or queries. They will advise and guide you when you require support throughout the course. They will assess your work, plan your assignments with you and help you improve your skills.

What other benefits will I receive?
Students will be able to attend one Writers’ Room or other workshop free if they wish, and/or meet their tutor for a one-to-one.

You’re invited to our regular events or other activities.

Don’t worry if you never get to London as you will get extra written feedback, phone or Skype time.

What if I live outside the UK?
You are still able to study for any of the Chalk the Sun courses on the same basis as UK-based students.

What do I do if I want to cancel my distance-learning course?
If you cancel in writing 28 days before you start studying, we will refund your fee minus £20.00 admin charges. If you wish to cancel during the course, we can arrange to postpone your studies until a later date but otherwise refunds will only be given in exceptional circumstances and each case treated individually.

What do I do if I still have questions?

For further information or a chat with one of our tutors please contact us.