How to turn 30,000 words into a comedy about failure – a story of success

Eleanor Elliott Thomas tells us how taking the ‘Writing a Novel’ course in 2022 helped her writing ‘in every respect’.

When I applied for the 2022 Faber Writing a Novel course I had 30,000 words saved in a file I had named ‘novel about nothing’. I signed up to Faber because I needed help to turn it into a novel about something—though I still wasn’t sure what that something would be. 

I had never studied creative writing, and was slightly worried that the course would be populated by either (a) aggressively brilliant writers who would tear me apart limb by limb or (b) hobbyists who were just there to mess around. I was reassured by the fact that the course was taught by Emily Bitto and Sophie Cunningham—two wonderful writers I knew I could learn from.

The course was helpful in every respect: improving my writing on a sentence-level, teaching me about structure, voice, theme and character, and preparing me for the mysterious world of agents and publishers. Emily and Sophie were wise and generous teachers, and my fellow students were talented, supportive, and thoughtful with their feedback. Our group still meets every month.

Not long after I finished my first draft, a friend of a friend who worked at Text Publishing heard I was doing the Faber course, and asked to see my manuscript. Incredibly, this casual enquiry resulted in a two-book publishing deal, and a year later, my ‘novel about nothing’—which turned out to be a comedy about failure—has turned into my debut novel, The Opposite of Success.

The Opposite of Success will be launched by Louise Swinn at 6.30pm on Thursday 5 October at Readings Carlton. All welcome.

Writing a Novel
February – September 2024

Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Online