Writing a Novel

w/ Kristina Olsson and Emily O'Grady

For emerging novelists ready to dive in and make the commitment to complete a full manuscript, this rigorous three-stage course will guide you through the process of planning and beginning your novel, developing essential skills in writing and composition, as well as establishing a dedicated writing practice.

7 March  –  19 September 2023

Avid Reader – Brisbane

Avid Reader
193 Boundary St
West End QLD 4101

Get directions

$6,500/$5.525 alumni

Presented by Australia’s leading independent publishing house Allen & Unwin, in partnership with the prestigious UK Publishers Faber & Faber, Writing a Novel is a highly practical, craft-focused program designed to help you find the focus you need to stay the distance and finish your manuscript draft.

In the first three-month stage of this course (March – May), you will be given a proven combination of targeted writing exercises, group discussions and carefully selected readings. These introductory lessons will give you an important foundation for writing your novel. You will be taken through essential concepts such as narrative structure, character development, narration, voice, plotting, scene setting and more.

In the second half of the program (July – September) you will continue to develop the craft and technical skills required to turn a rough draft into a work of art. You will finish the course with a deep understanding of the novelist’s craft and how it applies to your own novel. These are lessons you can carry with you throughout your writing life.

After these two stages are complete, Writing a Novel students will be asked to submit work to our highly sought-after Faber Writing Anthology, a professionally edited and printed showcase of student work, sent to leading literary agents and publishers across both Australia and the United Kingdom.

This third stage will take place after your course work is finished, giving you the time and space to work towards completing a submittable draft of your manuscript in time for the anthology to be sent out to agents and publishers. This final stage will include a meeting with Faber’s Editor in Residence, a copy-editing process, and a catch-up session with your tutors to report about your manuscript progress.

During this course, you will be provided with:

  • Regular classes covering everything from the first conception of an idea through to getting words on a page, narrative structure and style.
  • A personalised individual consultation on your project from your Course Director.
  • The ability to connect with fellow committed novelists, joining a selective class curated by your Course Director.
  • The opportunity to make valuable industry connections with key insiders from the Australian publishing industry.
  • The chance to be showcased in the much-anticipated Faber Writing Anthology, sent to publishers and literary agents across Australia and the United Kingdom.

Writers you'll be working with:

Kristina Olsson

Kristina Olsson is an award-winning writer of fiction, non-fiction and journalism. Her 2013 memoir, Boy, Lost, garnered multiple national awards. Her most recent  novel, Shell, is set in Sydney against the backdrop of the building of Sydney Opera House and Australia’s entry into the Vietnam War. It launched the legendary Scribner Australia literary imprint and was shortlisted…

Emily O’Grady

Emily O’Grady is a writer from Brisbane. Her debut novel, The Yellow House won the 2018 Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award and was shortlisted for the 2019 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction. Her work has been published in Meanjin, Kill Your Darlings, The Big Issue fiction edition, and New Australian Fiction 2021.  She holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Queensland University of Technology,…

Course outline

This course consists of twenty-two two-hour evening classes, six full-day sessions and three additional evening sessions dedicated to the Faber Writing Anthology. 

Session 1: Tuesday 7 March


Session 2: Tuesday 14 March

Types of prose, showing and telling

Session 3: Saturday 18 March

Sentences and tense

Session 4: Tuesday 21 March

Characters major and minor

Session 5: Tuesday 28 March

Point of View

Session 6: Saturday 1 April

Guest Speaker

Session 7: Tuesday 4 April

Exercises and thoughts on structure


Session 8: Tuesday 2 May


Session 9: Saturday 6 May


Session 10: Tuesday 9 May

Rhythm and pace

Session 11: Tuesday 16 May

Guest speaker and more on character

Session 12: Tuesday 23 May

Narrative drive

Session 13: Tuesday 30 May

Guest Speaker

Session 14: Tuesday 6 June

Place & Setting

Session 15: Tuesday 13 June

The creative mind


Session 16: Tuesday 18 July


Session 17: Tuesday 25 July
Object and detail: Language, description, metaphor. How to use ornament, from the pared back to the baroque.

Session 18: Tuesday 1 August
Plot and structure: What happens next? How to build a compelling narrative.

Session 19: Saturday 5 August
Beginnings: Your first pages are an invitation that can’t be ignored

Session 20: Tuesday 8 August
Genre and anti-genre : What is ‘genre’? And which one are you working in? The good, the bad and the ugly of different literary forms.

Session 21: Tuesday 15 August
Themes and symbolism: The thing you’ve come to say, and how to say it.

Session 22: Saturday 19 August
Re-drafting bootcamp: Writing, writing, writing. And feedback.

Session 23: Tuesday 22 August

Research and believability: How to incorporate research into authentic narrative.

Session 24: Tuesday 29 August
Synopsis and pitch

Session 25: Saturday 2 September
Acting coach

Session 26: Tuesday 5 September

Session 27: Tuesday 12 September

Session 28: Tuesday 19 September
Celebratory dinner class

Faber Writing Anthology sessions:

  •         Session 29: Meet the Editor in Residence
  •         Session 30: Meet the Faber UK Team
  •         Session 31: Manuscript progress report and catch up with tutors

All evening sessions will take place on Tuesdays, 6.00 – 8.00pm. Full-day sessions will take place on Saturdays from 10.00am –4.00pm and are fully catered. All classes take place at Avid Reader bookstore. Anthology sessions take place on Zoom.

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.

Praise for this course

‘The workshops were fantastic – particularly for gaining feedback from Emily and Kristina.’ 2022

‘I found Emily and Kris’ insight most helpful’ 2022

‘Kris was phenomenal. I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher. She’s insightful, humble, practical and curious. What more could you want?’ 2021

‘Kristina Olsson is an amazingly generous and insightful teacher. I have seen her lead these workshops with the kind of tender helping hand that an emerging novelist needs. Her own writing is fierce and sharp and meticulous and in these workshops Kristina directs the students to examine their own work with the same kind of forensic detail. If anyone can whisper a great book out of a messy first draft or a hesitant author it is Kristina Olsson. 100% recommend her to any one starting out in this industry.’ 2021

;It’s a great way to show your work when you have no idea if it’s even worth reading, Kris has created a wonderfully supportive and caring environment that helps those with L plates gain some confidence.’ 2021


How to Apply

In the first instance we encourage all applicants to consider applying for a Faber Writing Scholarship which allows the recipient to undertake the Writing a Novel program for free. Your scholarship application can also act as your general course application – just check the option to be considered for a paid place.

To apply, you will need to submit:

  • An online application answering several questions asked by our Writing A Novel tutors
  • An attachment with a sample of up to 1,000 words of prose

Applications can be submitted here. This selective process ensures that all applicants are applying for the course best suited to their needs and allows the tutor to determine your readiness for the course.

Payment information:

The total cost of the course is $6,500 / $5,525 alumni.

Once you have been offered a place in Writing a Novel you will be asked to pay the first monthly instalment as a deposit by the end of February 2023.

Any student who chooses to pay the full course fee by the end of February 2023, will be offered the alumni rate of $5,525.

Students who choose to pay monthly instalments will commit to 10 monthly payments of $650 / $552.50 to be made at the end of each month from February – November.

Please contact us if you wish to discuss further payment plan options via email or phone (02) 8425 0171.