Allen & Unwin » Faber Writing Academy

Martine MurrayWriting for Children: Creating Captivating Picture Books and Middle-grade Fiction with Martine Murray and guests including Sally Rippin.

February - June 2021

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

Please note that pending the latest COVID-19 advice this course may be delivered online.

Course fee: $ 2,250 /$ 1,912.50 alumni

The perfect three-month course for people who wish to write for children.

Children are discerning readers, and the children's publishing industry is highly competitive. To write a children's book that will stand out on a publisher's desk, and then on bookstore shelves, you need to be aware of what is already out there, while creating something that reflects your personality.

This course will cover the elements required to create a stand-out manuscript. You will discover how to craft a compelling story, memorable characters, authentic dialogue and an evocative setting. You will learn about your audience and the themes and language suited to different age groups. The course will also discuss what publishers are looking for and how to convince them that you are worth publishing.

Writing for children requires skill and imagination; getting published takes commitment and perseverance. You will be required to work hard and read continually. There will be regular workshops and you will be given feedback in a supportive and creative environment. Over the twelve sessions, we will study a range of children's authors and hear from guest speakers in the children's publishing industry.

Writing for Children is suitable for writers of all levels of experience. Participants are encouraged to bring along ideas for stories, novels-in-progress and/or favourite children's books and middle grade fiction.

At the end of the course participants will have a thorough understanding of the children's publishing industry as well as a fully or partially completed draft of a children's novel. Most importantly, they will have gained the support of a group of fellow writers and an opportunity to create ongoing workshop sessions outside the course.

There are only ten places available on this course. Book soon to avoid disappointment.

Reading List

Participants will be given a suggested reading list during session one. However, to gain the most benefit from our speakers, students are encouraged to read a selection of these books before the start of the course:

How to Make a Bird and/or The Slightly True Story of Cedar B. Hartley and/or Henrietta, There's No One Better by Martine Murray

Angel Creek and/or Chenxi and the Foreigner and/or the Billie B Brown series by Sally Rippin

Girl Defective and/or Notes from the Teenage Underground and/or Everything is Beautiful by Simmone Howell

While we will be mainly focusing on contemporary Australian children's fiction, students are encouraged to read widely and often.

Praise for Writing for Children:

'The exercises pushed me to try new things, such as picture books. I am now polishing picture book manuscripts for submission, where I only worked on novels before.' Heath, 2019

"Martine was amazing! So inspirational and generous with her knowledge!' Caitlin, 2019

‘Did it meet my expectations? Heck to the yeah! I wanted an intensive, in-depth course that would cover all the major elements of writing for children. What I got was all that, plus the opportunity to work with an amazing mentor, in a physical space that calls out for books to be written, all wrapped up in an atmosphere of support.’ Carolyn, 2016

‘The Writing for Children course has given me the confidence and motivation to continue writing and has fundamentally changed the way I write. It has been inspirational and stimulating and great to work in a group.’ Anon, 2015

'The course was absolutely wonderful. It was such a joy getting together with everyone each week to discuss something everyone enjoys so much. The course structure and content were so helpful and I learnt so much… The course materials were great and I have referred back to them numerous times. The venue was perfect - I could not imagine doing this course anywhere else.' Kate, 2014

Alumni successes!

Jill Lever's first book The Worm Who Knew Karate, illustrated by Terry Denton, was published by Penguin in 2015. Jill did our Writing for Children course in 2013.

Ella Mulvey, who did the course in 2014, will had her first picture book The Rabbit-Hole Golf Course published by Allen & Unwin in 2017.

About the Course Director

Martine Murray writes for children and young adults. Her first novel The Slightly True Story of Cedar B Hartley was included in the White Ravens international list of outstanding children's books, and was shortlisted for the Victorian, NSW and Queensland Premier's Awards, and the CBCA Awards. She won the Queensland Premier's Award for How to Make a Bird and again for The Slightly Bruised Glory of Cedar B Hartley. She was shortlisted for the Prime Ministers Award for Mannie and the Long Brave Day and the CBCA awards for Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars, Henrietta and the Perfect Night and Marsh and Me. Her books have been published internationally and translated into seventeen languages. Martine has taught in the professional writing course at RMIT in Melbourne

About the guests

Sally Rippin has been writing and illustrating children's books for over fifteen years. She has over forty books published, many of them award-winning, including two novels for young adults. She has taught writing for children courses at the Council of Adult Education, the Victorian Writers' Centre and as a part of the Professional Writing and Editing program at RMIT University. She is regularly invited to speak at writers' festivals and seminars around Australia and overseas, and has been writer-in-residence in schools in Beijing, Shanghai and Ghana. Sally's books include the award-winning YA novel Chenxi and the Foreigner, the children's novel Angel Creek, recently published to critical acclaim, and the immensely popular Billie B Brown series, which became the highest-selling fiction series for under eights in the year it was first

Other guests TBA.

Course Program

The course consists of:

12 x evening sessions, 6.30 – 8.30pm Wednesday nights

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.

Session 1:
Developing a writing practice and looking at the elements of story.
Discussion of drafting and workshop process.

Session 2:
How to find it. What's ‘appropriate’? Who might your audience be? Authenticity and originality.
Workshopping initial ideas.

Session 3:
The 'What If?':
Pushing, twisting, enlarging an idea.
How do we take one idea and find a way to unfold it into story.

Session 4:
Picture Books:
Looking at the idea of writing visually, the consolation of structure, the use of rhyme, rhythm and repetition, uses of the everyday, the monster, animals, friendship…

Session 5:
Guest Speaker – Sally Rippin

Session 6:
Looking at the emergence of character as the basis of story.
Moving from picture books (Eloise, Shirley Hughes' Alfie stories) to chapter books (Ivy & Bean, Pippi Longstocking) to novels (Matilda, Penny Pollard, Anne of Green Gables).

Session 7:
Finding and developing your unique voice. Looking at how voice manifests in a picture book and a novel.

Session 8:
Examining the importance of setting particularly in children’s novels.

Session 9:
Whole Class Workshop Sessions

Session 10:
The importance of the telling detail. Looking at style and grammar.
How to look at your work with an editor's eye. How to edit, redraft and polish your prose.

Session 11:
Writing as a Business:
Submitting your manuscript, choosing a publisher or agent, covering letters, contracts.

Session 12:
Making a Living as a Writer:
Book tours, school talks and festivals.

Booking and payment details

Bookings are not yet open for this course. Please follow this link to register your interest in the course and we will notify you when bookings are available.

This information about payment is provided for the information of potential students and details will be confirmed as soon as possible. The course fee is $ 2,250/$1,912.50 alumni. When booking, applicants will be asked to pay a deposit of $750/$637.50 alumni. The balance of the course fee, will be payable in two instalments of $750/$ 637.50 almuni each, one in March and one in April 2021. In the week leading up to these dates you will be sent payment instructions. Refunds are not available for those who miss sessions or do not complete the course.

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

For further information contact Faber Writing Academy: or (02) 8425 0171