Toni JordanWriting a Novel: Stage 1

with Toni Jordan and Paddy O'Reilly + guests, including leading industry agents/publishers

7 March - 30 May 2017 (3 months)

Allen & Unwin - Melbourne
406 Albert Street
East Melbourne VIC 3002
Get directions

Course fee:
$3,250 / $2,760 alumni
or $2,760 for those who sign up for Writing a Novel: Stage 2 at the same time

Write your novel, and write it well.

For aspiring novelists ready to leap in, this course will guide you through the process of planning and beginning your novel, creating new scenes, playing with ideas, finding a voice and establishing a writing practice. Using a combination of targeted writing exercises, group discussion and carefully selected examples, the focus of this course will be on your own writing, with the aim of ending the course with a substantial body of new writing, heading towards a first draft of your novel.

• Benefit from the structure of regular classes covering everything from the first conception of an idea through to getting words on a page, narrative structure and style.

• Learn from our experienced Course Directors, as well as guest tutors including top authors, and agents/publishers.

• Receive personalised, one-to-one attention on your project from your tutor.

Get it done. When undertaken with Writing a Novel: Stage 2, this is a flexible alternative to a creative writing MA, designed for people who might be considering a career and who are prepared to engage fully in the hard work involved. Apart from the workshops, you will be devoting as much time as possible between classes to writing.

Receive invaluable feedback by having the chance to present your work to your class of other committed novelists.

Start your career. There is no better way to get on the road to publication than to meet the people who know how to make that happen.

Praise for Writing a Novel

'Every week I learnt new tools which I could use straight away. It helped me at a macro and micro level. The teaching style made me want to write more and gave me confidence in my own writing. The course exceeded my expectations.' - Rob, Melbourne, 2016

'What the course has managed is to get me to stop worrying about writing a novel and to just start getting something - anything - down... Toni and Paddy have helped me to understand is that all this is fine and natural and a necessary stage to go through. They've given me the push I needed to get started and they've managed to make me believe that I will get this novel written.' - Michelle Wright, Melbourne, 2015. Read more from Michelle on our blog

'Excellent. 10 out of 10… It was a privilege and a pleasure.' - Stephen, Melbourne, 2014

'Getting constant feedback from industry experts was extremely helpful... I learned a lot that I can apply to my own work both now and in the future... More than returned the money I paid for this course.' - James, Melbourne, 2013

'It helped me focus on my writing more effectively and to consider the technical aspects of what I was doing.' - Steph, Melbourne, 2012

What the tutors think - read here

About the Course Directors

Toni JordanToni Jordan is the author of four novels. The international best-seller Addition (2008), was a Richard and Judy Bookclub pick and was longlisted for the Miles Franklin award. Fall Girl (2010) was published internationally and has been optioned for film, and Nine Days was awarded Best Fiction at the 2012 Indie Awards, was shortlisted for the ABIA Best General Fiction award and was named in Kirkus Review's top 10 Historical Novels of 2013. Her most recent novel, Our Tiny Useless Hearts, was published in 2016. Toni has been widely published in newspapers and magazines and was 2014 sessional teacher of the year at RMIT University.

Paddy O'ReillyPaddy O'Reilly is the author of three novels including The Wonders and two collections of short stories, most recently Peripheral Vision, which have been published and broadcast internationally. She has won a number of fiction awards and her books have been shortlisted for the Queensland Premier's Literary Awards and the ALS Gold Medal, as well as being nominated many times in best books of the year lists. She has been a recipient of Australia Council and Arts Victoria awards, as well as Australian and overseas writing residencies. Paddy has a PhD in English from Latrobe University and has won two prizes for excellence in teaching.

About the guests - watch this space. Previous guests include Chris Womersley, Sophie Cunningham, Steven Caroll, Wayne Macauley, Clare Forster, Aviva Tuffield and Mandy Brett.

Please note that in the event of unforeseen circumstances, courses – including tutors and venues – may be subject to cancellation or change.

Course Program

The course consists of:

11 x Tuesday evenings (6.30pm to 8.30pm) + 3 x full Saturdays (10am to 4pm)

The content listed below is comprehensive but is still a guide only. The exact course content could be adjusted according to the experience and concerns of the group and availability of guest writers. The detail of the course is at the discretion of the course director and Faber Writing Academy at Allen & Unwin.

Session 1: Tuesday 7 March
Introductory Session: goals, obstacles, desires, finding the essence of your novel. What matters? Why this story? Why now?

Session 2: Tuesday 14 March
Beginnings: research and planning. Establishing your practice. Inspiration and perspiration. Diving in.
Using memory and senses.

Session 3: Tuesday 21 March
Character 101: who is at the heart of your novel? Who is the protagonist? Inventing and observing character. Characters in action.

Session 4: Saturday 25 March
Voice: who is telling the story? Finding the voice of your novel. Rhythm and tone.

Session 5: Tuesday 28 March
Place: the beginnings of place. Setting as inspiration and as character.

Session 6: Tuesday 4 April
Guest Tutor
Overcoming writer's block and staying on track.

Session 7: Tuesday 11 April
Secondary Characters: who are your secondary characters, what are their roles? Hearing and seeing them. Physical and psychological description.


Session 8: Tuesday 2 May
Being Gorgeous: metaphor, language and style.

Session 9: Saturday 6 May
Story Structure and the Shape of Your Novel.
Conflict: why conflict matters, how to generate it, how to use it to escalate drama and tension
Desire and weakness: what is the desire that drives your novel? Harnessing desire, capturing it on the page.

Session 10: Tuesday 9 May
The Power of Secrets: what is said and what is unsaid. Character secrets; withholding information; what the writer knows.

Session 11: Tuesday 16 May
Guest Agent: eye-catching openings.

Session 12: Saturday 20 May
This full Saturday is dedicated to individual tutorials with your course director. This is where you have the opportunity to discuss your work in progress. You will be set writing tasks for the rest of the day.

Session 13: Tuesday 23 May
Plotting: plot analysis, locating weak spots, overall structural cohesion.

Session 14: Tuesday 30 May
What Now? how to carry on.

Writing a Novel: Stage 2 (18 Jul - 26 Sep) is designed to build on Writing a Novel: Stage 1 but each may be taken as a stand-alone course. Talk to us if you need guidance on which course is best for you. If you sign up for both courses at the same time you receive a discount. See 'How to Make a Booking' below.

How to Make a Booking

All course applicants for Writing a Novel: Stage 1 are required to forward a cover letter briefly stating any writing experience and an overview of the idea for the novel identifying what stage it is presently at. Applicants are also required to submit a 1,500-word sample of prose. This process ensures that all applicants are applying for the course best suited to their needs.

Please send applications to

or by post to:
Faber Writing Academy Manager
Allen & Unwin
PO Box 8500
St Leonards NSW 1590

Download the application form

Successful applicants will be asked to pay a non-refundable deposit of $1,100 (Faber Writing Academy Alumni are entitled to a 15% discount off the course fee and will pay a deposit of $610*). The balance of the course fee, a further $2150, will be payable in two further instalments of $1075 on 1 April and 1 May respectively. No refunds will be given to students who miss sessions or drop out of the course.

* If you wish to also sign up for Writing a Novel: Stage 2 (18 Jul - 26 Sep) you will be eligible for the alumni discount. Please tick the relevant box on the application form and pay an additional $610 deposit for the Writing a Novel: Stage 2 course, i.e. a total of $1,220.

Applicants will be advised in mid to late-January on the success of their application. If your circumstances require you to find out before then please let us know.


The winner of our 2017 Writing a Novel Scholarship in Melbourne is Jonathon Otis. Click here for more information.