Kathryn HeymanWriting a Novel: Stage 1

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


18 February – 12 May 2020 (3 months)

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

Course fee:
$3,250 / $2,762.50 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, 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 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:

'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, 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, 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, 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, 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.


About the Course Director

Kathryn Heyman is the author of six novels, most recently Storm and Grace. 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

Kathryn has taught writing for many years, including serving as the Scottish Arts Council Writing Fellow for the University of Glasgow, and teaching fiction and poetry for the University of Oxford. From 2011 – 2013, she was the Senior Judge for the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards, and an advisor to the awards team in 2016. As well as being the Program Director for Faber Writing Academy in Australia, Kathryn Heyman is the director of the Australian Writers Mentoring Program and is a Conjoint Profes-sor 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 the four novelsWrack, The Deep Field, The Resurrectionist and Clade, and a book of poetry, Paper Nautilus. He is editor of The Penguin Book of the Ocean, and has written a trilogy of young adult novels, the first of which, The Silent Invasion, was published in 2017 and the second, The Buried Ark in 2018. His literary criticism and jour-nalism 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 award-ed the Pascall Prize for Criticism.

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 6.30pm to 8.30pm) + 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 18 February
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 25 February
Beginnings: Research and planning. Establishing your practice. Inspiration and perspiration. Diving in. Using memory and senses.

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

Session 4: Saturday 7 March
Voice: Who is telling the story? Finding the voice of your novel. Rhythm and tone. Character voice. Finding your voice.

Session 5: Tuesday 10 March
Place: The beginnings of place; setting as inspiration and as character.

Session 6: Tuesday 17 March
Being Gorgeous: Metaphor, language and style.

Session 7: Tuesday 24 March
Guest Tutor.

COURSE BREAK (2 weeks includes Easter)

Session 8: Tuesday 14 April
Secondary Characters: Who are your secondary characters, what are their roles? Hearing and seeing them. Physical and psychological description.

Session 9: Saturday 18 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 10: Tuesday 21 April
The Power of Secrets: What is said and what is unsaid. Character secrets; withholding information; what the writer knows.

Session 11: Tuesday 28 April
Plotting: Marking out the elements of story and continuing on.

Session 12: Tuesday 5 May
Guest Agent. Eye catching openings.

Session 13: Saturday 9 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 14: Tuesday 12 May
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 - Sydney here.

APPLICATIONS CLOSE: Sunday, 17 November 2019

OFFERS MADE: Monday, 16 December 2019


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