Kickstart Your Novel: The First Chapter and Beyond

w/ Pip Smith

This is where you start: The perfect place to develop both the technical skill and the narrative momentum to really get stuck into the novel you have been dreaming of starting.


Tuesday 3 May 2021 – Tuesday 21 June 2022 (8 weeks)
7pm – 9pm

$990 / $841.50 alumni

This is a past course.

Have you struggled to get the first words down on a project? Or, have you finished a draft of your novel, but find that it only really ‘gets going’ half way through? During this 8-week course you will be part of a close-knit, supportive learning environment designed to get you started – or re-started – on your dream work of fiction, and to strengthen the opening chapter of your work-in-progress.

We will pull apart the first chapters of our favourite novels, work out what makes them sing, and apply their techniques to your own works-in-progress. We will use the opening chapters of your novels to investigate the most important questions we need to ask of your work as a whole.

The course will be delivered over 8 weeks. In the first four weeks we will train ourselves to read the opening chapters of our favourite novels not as readers, but as writers; we will focus on technique and coursework, and allow a little time to workshop the opening chapters of those who have already written first drafts.

In the second part of the course, we will continue with a more thorough and detailed workshopping process, focusing on the revised opening chapters of those who submitted in part one of the course, and the first drafts of those who have put pen to paper for the first time.

The course will finish with a look towards the future, thinking about strategies to keep you going on your manuscript.

By the end of the course you will have:

  • Gained an understanding of all the important elements and techniques of novel writing;
  • Bolstered your abilities and interest in writing fiction in a friendly environment;
  • Received constructive and rigorous feedback on your writing, so that you can measure your improvement.

This course is a useful foundation for those who wish to take the longer, intensive Faber Writing Academy Writing a Novel course.

Writers you'll be working with:

Pip Smith

Pip Smith is a writer of poetry, fiction, literary criticism and punk songs. She was named an SMH Best Young Novelist of 2018 for her debut novel, Half Wild, which was shortlisted for the 2018 Voss Literary award, the Davitt Award, and longlisted for an ABIA Best Debut Fiction award. Her first collection of poetry, Too Close…

Course outline

Session 1: Tuesday 3 May
Page one, chapter one – voice and style

Session 2: Tuesday 10 May
The nub & the process

Session 3: Tuesday 17 May
Plot, structure & shape

Session 4: Tuesday 24 May
Beguiling protagonists

Session 5: Tuesday 31 May
Atmosphere, setting & place

Session 6: Tuesday 7 June
Action & exposition

Session 7: Tuesday 14 June
Theme & imagery

Session 8: Tuesday 21 June
Revising & continuing

Praise for this course

‘This course exceeded my expectations – it was a joy to log-on every week and wait to be surprised by Pip.’ 2021

‘I loved the course. Pip Smith is an amazing mentor and I found the feedback from the other students very helpful.’ 2021

‘Every unit was helpful and made me consider things I hadn’t though about before especially things like imagery, metaphors, narrative summary etc. I loved the workshopping
component and it was done in such a positive and encouraging way.’ 2021

How to Book

This is a past course.