Writing a Novel

w/ Emily O'Grady + Kristina Olsson

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.

Tuesdays 6pm – 8pm, 20 February – 24 September 2024

Avid Reader – Brisbane

Avid Reader
193 Boundary St
West End QLD 4101

Get directions

$6,700/ $5,695 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 stage of this course (Feb – Jun), 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 meeting with the Faber UK team.

Guest speakers include Trent Dalton (Boy Swallows Universe), Mirandi Riwoe (Stone Sky Gold Mountain), Laura Elvery (Ordinary Matter), and Emily Bitto (Wild Abandon).

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:

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, where…

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…

Course outline

This course consists of twenty-two 2 hour evening classes, six full-day sessions and two additional evening sessions dedicated to the Faber Writing Anthology. 

Session 1: Tuesday 20 February

Session 2: Tuesday 27 February
Types of prose, showing and telling

Session 3: Saturday 2 March
Sentences and tense

Session 4: Tuesday 5 March
Characters major and minor

Session 5: Tuesday 12 March
Point of View

Session 6: Tuesday 19 March
Guest Speaker

Session 7: Saturday 23 March
Exercises and thoughts on structure


Session 8: Tuesday  30 April

Session 9: Saturday 4 May

Session 10: Tuesday 7 May
Rhythm and pace

Session 11: Tuesday 14 May
Guest speaker and more on character

Session 12: Tuesday 21 May
Narrative drive

Session 13: Tuesday 28 May
Guest Speaker

Session 14: Tuesday 4 June
Place and setting

Session 15: Tuesday 11 June
The creative mind


Session 16: Tuesday  23 July

Session 17: Tuesday 30 July
Object and detail: Language, description, metaphor. How to use ornament, from the pared back to the baroque.

Session 18: Tuesday 6 August
Plot and structure: What happens next? How to build a compelling narrative.

Session 19: Saturday 10 August
Beginnings: Your first pages are an invitation that can’t be ignored

Session 20: Tuesday 13 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 20 August
Themes and symbolism: The thing you’ve come to say, and how to say it.

Session 22: Saturday 24 August
Re-drafting bootcamp: Writing, writing, writing. And feedback.

Session 23: Tuesday 27 August
Research and believability: How to incorporate research into authentic narrative.

Session 24: Tuesday 3 September
Synopsis and pitch

Session 25: Saturday 7 September
Acting coach

Session 26: Tuesday 10 September

Session 27: Tuesday 17 September

Session 28: Tuesday 24 September
Celebratory dinner class

Faber Writing Anthology sessions:

  •         Session 29: Meet the Editor in Residence
  •         Session 30: Meet the Faber UK Team

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

‘This course gave me back my passion for writing and through it I have a full first draft of a manuscript I just couldn’t get started on by myself. I’ve been writing fiction for years and have done just about every course under the sun but I learned so much about writing and about myself through Faber. I will forever be grateful for the connections I’ve made through the course this year’

‘I found Emily’s insight most helpful.’

‘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.’


How to Apply

Writing a Novel in Brisbane is currently booked out. In order to join the waiting list, you will need to submit:

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

Enter your application here. The 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.

Questions about the course or the application process? Contact us via email or phone (02) 8425 0171.