Kathryn HeymanWriting a Novel: Stage 1

with Kathryn Heyman or James Bradley + guests, including leading industry agents/publishers

7 March - 30 May 2017 (3 months)

Allen & Unwin
83 Alexander Street
Crows Nest NSW 2065
Get directions
(Please note access is via stairs)

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 a personalised consultation 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:

'I have done writing courses before but this far outstrips any of them: the fundamentals of voice, plot, turning points, technical structures, have been invaluable. Engaging, encouraging and incredibly knowledgeable.' - Lindsay, Sydney, 2016

'I found every single session of Writing a Novel useful and productive. I have always worked alone and had reservations about a long program of close work with a group but it has been a wonderfully rewarding experience. I cannot think of a thing that could have been done better or that I would want done differently.' - Janine, Sydney, 2015

'Anyone who has attempted to write a novel knows how difficult it can be, how easy it is to become trapped in the thicket of your own work. Undertaking this course is like being led into a clearing - it provides a sort of illumination of the novel writing process.' - Sarah, Sydney, 2014

'A writing school on the rooftop of a big publishing house, wow. It's literally in the air. Just taking deep breaths, sucking in the fumes, is inspiring ... I found it unreal that I was supported to be the writer that I am. At no stage did I feel put in a box, or constrained by the rules.' - Dave, Sydney, 2013

'(Faber Writing Academy) gave me a much needed framework and deadlines to work seriously on my novel with the benefit of proper feedback from experienced novelists. Listening to the guest authors reveal their writing processes and offer practical advice to new writers was priceless. Almost as importantly, the weekly meetings and day workshops with other attendees, all grappling with their own books, dispersed a little of the loneliness of writing and became a kind of mutual therapy that I think we all missed very much when the course ended.' - Joanne Riccioni, Sydney, 2011 (The Italians at Cleat's Corner Store was published in Australia and the UK in 2014)

What the tutors think - read here

About the Course Director

Kathryn Heyman is the author of six novels, most recently Floodline. Her new book, Storm and Grace, will be published in February 2017. She has won numerous awards including an Arts Council of England Writers Award, the Wingate and the Southern Arts Awards, and been nominated for the Orange Prize, the Scottish Writer of the Year Award, the Edinburgh Fringe Critics' Awards, the Kibble Prize, and the West Australian Premier's Book Awards. Her radio plays for BBC Radio include adaptations of her own work.

As well as being the Program Director for Faber Writing Academy in Australia, Kathryn Heyman is the director of the Australian Writers Mentoring Program, a member of the Folio Prize Academy and is a Conjoint Professor in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Newcastle.

James Bradley is an award-winning writer and literary critic. His books include four novels, Wrack, The Deep Field, The Resurrectionist and Clade, a book of poetry, Paper Nautilus and, as editor, The Penguin Book of the Ocean. His literary criticism and journalism has appeared in The Times Literary Supplement, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Australian Literary Review, Australian Book Review, The Monthly, Locus, The New York Review of Science Fiction, Griffith Review, Meanjin, Heat, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. In 2012 he was awarded the Pascall Prize for Criticism. His first book for younger readers, The Silent Invasion, will be published in 2017.

About the guests - watch this space. Previous guests include Andrew O'Hagan (UK), David Malouf, Margo Lanagan, Charlotte Wood, Ross Grayson-Bell and Louise Doughty (UK).

Please note 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, why are you writing? What matters? What are your themes? Why this story?

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

Session 3: Saturday 18 March
Voice: Who is telling the story? Finding the voice of your novel. Rhythm and tone. Character voice.
Finding your voice.

Session 4: Tuesday 21 March
Character 101: Who is at the heart of your novel? Who is the protagonist? Inventing and observing character.

Session 5: Tuesday 28 March
Place: The beginnings of place; setting as inspiration and as character.

Session 6: Saturday 1 April
Story Structure and the Shape of Your Novel.
Conflict: Why conflict matters, how to find 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 7: Tuesday 4 April
Guest Tutor.

Session 8: Tuesday 11 April
Secondary Characters: Who are your secondary characters, what are their roles? Hearing and seeing them. Physical and psychological description.

COURSE BREAK (2 weeks)

Session 9: Tuesday 2 May
Being Gorgeous: Metaphor, language and style.

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
Plotting: Marking out the elements of story and continuing on.

Session 12: Saturday 20 May
Point of View.

This full Saturday is also 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
Guest Agent. Eye catching openings.

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 faberwritingacademy@allenandunwin.com

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

Download the application form (PDF)

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 Sydney is Yvonne Weldon. Click here for more information.