Kristina OlssonWriting a Novel: Stage 1

with Kristina Olsson + confirmed guests authors, Trent Dalton and Melissa Lucashenko, and publisher Aviva Tuffield


16 June - 25 August 2020 (3 months)

Avid Reader
193 Boundary St
West End QLD 4101
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Course fee:
$3,250 / $2,762.50 alumni
or $2,762.50 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, developing skills in writing from scratch 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 Director, 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:

'The content was (what) blew me away - I have read many books on writing but this was so much more insightful and useful. I loved all of the techniques and knowing that you can fix most things in editing.' Liz, Sydney, 2019

'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

'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.' R.W.R McDonald, Melbourne, 2016 (The Nancys was published by Allen & Unwin in 2019)

'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

'(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)

Visit our Student Success news page to see books published since doing our course.
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About the Course Director

Kristina Olsson is an award-winning writer of fiction, non-fiction and journalism. Her 2013 memoir, Boy, Lost, garnered multiple national awards. Her new novel, Shell, set in Sydney against the backdrop of the building of Sydney Opera House and Australia’s entry into the Vietnam War, was published last October and launched the legendary Scribner Australia literary imprint. It has been shortlisted in several major literary awards.

Kristina’s previous work includes the novel The China Garden and the biography Kilroy Was Here. She also works as a journalist, mentor and teacher of creative writing, and is currently working on a new work of narrative non-fiction. She lives in Brisbane.

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

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 evening sessions (Tuesdays 6.00pm to 8.00pm) + 3 x full-day sessions (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 16 June
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 23 June
Beginnings: Research and planning. Establishing your practice. Inspiration and perspiration. Diving in. Using memory and senses.

Session 3: Saturday 27 June
Voice: Who is telling the story? Finding the voice of your novel. Rhythm and tone. Character voice. Finding your voice.

Session 4: Tuesday 30 June
Character 101: Who is at the heart of your novel? Who is the protagonist? Inventing and observing character.

Session 5: Tuesday 7 July
Place: The beginnings of place; setting as inspiration and as character.

Session 6: Tuesday 14 July
Being Gorgeous: Metaphor, language and style.

Session 7: Tuesday 21 July
Guest Tutor.

Session 8: Saturday 25 July
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 9: Tuesday 28 July
Secondary Characters: Who are your secondary characters, what are their roles? Hearing and seeing them. Physical and psychological description.

Session 10: Tuesday 4 August
The Power of Secrets: What is said and what is unsaid. Character secrets; withholding information; what the writer knows.

Session 11: Saturday 8 August
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 12: Tuesday 11 August
Plotting: Marking out the elements of story and continuing on.

Session 13: Tuesday 18 August
Guest Agent. Eye catching openings.

Session 14: Tuesday 25 August
What Now? How to carry on.


How to apply

To apply you will need to submit, in a single document::

  • A letter briefly stating any writing experience
  • An overview of the idea for your novel and its present stage of development
  • A 1,500-word sample of prose

This process ensures that all applicants are applying for the course best suited to their needs.

Enter your application for Writing a Novel Stage 1 here. .


If you need further information please contact Faber Writing Academy by email at faberwritingacademy@allenandunwin.com or call us on (02) 8425 0171.