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Kickstart Your Novel: The Opening 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.

Thursday 9 September – Thursday 11 November 2021 (8 weeks)
6.30 – 8.30 pm

$990 / $841.50 alumni


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 in 2 x 4 week stages, with a two-week writing intermission. 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.

After a short two-week writing break, we will resume 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 in 2022.


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: Thursday 9 September
Page one, chapter one – voice and style

Session 2: Thursday 16 September
The nub & the process

Session 3: Thursday 23 September
Plot, structure & shape

Session 4: Thursday 30 September
Beguiling protagonists

COURSE BREAK: Two week writing break

Session 5: Thursday 21 October
Atmosphere, setting & place

Session 6: Thursday 28 October
Action & exposition

Session 7: Thursday 4 November
Theme & imagery

Session 8: Thursday 11 November
Revising & continuing

How to Book

This program is booked out. Please join the waitlist and we will contact you should any places become available.