Writing a Novel

w/ Emily Bitto and Miles Allinson

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.

Wednesday evenings 6.30pm – 8.30pm and Saturdays 10am – 4pm, 21 February – 26 September 2024

Faber Writing Academy at Kathleen Syme Library

Kathleen Syme Library
251 Faraday St,
Carlton VIC 3053


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$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 three-month stage of this course (February – June), 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.

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 Bitto

Emily Bitto is an award-winning writer of fiction, poetry and non-fiction. Her debut novel, The Strays, was the winner of the Stella Prize in 2015. Her second novel, Wild Abandon, was published by Allen & Unwin in 2021. She has a Masters in Literary Studies and a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Melbourne and has…

Miles Allinson

Miles Allinson is a writer from Melbourne. His first novel, Fever of Animals won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript in 2014 among other prizes. His second novel In Moonland was published in 2021 and won the Age Book of the Year Prize for Fiction in 2022. He has a Bachelor of Creative Arts and a Post…

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. All evening sessions will take place on Wednesdays, 6.30pm – 8.30pm. Full-day sessions will take place on Saturdays from 10.00am –4.00pm.

Session 1: Wednesday 21 February
Introductory session: Goals, obstacles, desires. Why are you writing? What matters? What are your themes? Why this story?

Session 2: Wednesday 28 February
Reading as a writer: How to use techniques of close, targeted reading as an ongoing way of improving your craft. Setting yourself a ‘reading project’ for the year.

Session 3: Saturday 2 March
Characters major and minor: Who is at the heart of your novel? Who are your secondary characters and what are their roles? Inventing and observing characters. Physical and psychological description.

Session 4: Wednesday 6 March
Narrative point of view and tense: Who is telling the story? How and when? Will it be first, second or third person? Close or distant? Past or present tense?

Session 5: Wednesday 13 March
Scene and summary: What is the difference between scene and summary? What is the function of each in your novel, and how do they work on the page?

Session 6: Wednesday 20 March
Voice: What is the voice and tone of your novel? What tone best suits the things you know? How can you consciously decide on and create the tone and voice of your novel?

Session 7: Saturday 23 March
Story, structure, plot: What are the different types of plot? Do you even need one?  How do you maintain intensity and momentum with varied pacing?  How do you find the right structure for your novel? While plot is related to structure the two operate independently, so consideration will also be given to the ways in which they should both support and develop the other.


Session 8: Wednesday 1 May
Place, setting, world building: Writing place convincingly. Setting as inspiration and as character.

Session 9: Saturday 4 May
Dialogue: Listening, recording, pace, precision. Imagined truth and overheard truth. The difference between dialogue as spoken and as it reads on the page.

Session 10: Wednesday 8 May
Showing and Telling: Giving your writing power and subtlety through techniques of ‘showing’. Learning to trust your reader.

Session 11: Wednesday 15 May
Handling time: Flashback, flash forward and everything in between. How to handle the passage of time in your narrative, on both the plot-level and the scene-level. Different ways to incorporate back-story and to handle transitions between time periods.

Session 12: Wednesday 22 May
Genre and anti-genre:  An industry professional will talk to us about different genres of writing and the differences (or not!) between them.

Session 13: Wednesday 29 May
Fiction and the self: What are the fundamental differences between fiction and autobiography? How do we draw from our own lives to create, powerful and authentic fiction? When should we recall and record and when should we invent?

Session 14: Wednesday 5 June
Types of prose: The relationship between prose style, tone and voice. What type of prose style is appropriate for your novel? Thinking about the impact of sentence-level choices on your novel as a whole.

Session 15: Wednesday 12 June
Guest industry professional and ‘Where to next?’: An industry professional will share their experience with you and answer your questions. Consolidating, taking stock and moving forward. Making the most of the break.


Session 16: Wednesday 24 July
Revisiting beginnings: What are some of the common ways of beginning a novel, and what effects and expectations do they create for the reader? What are you aiming to achieve in your own opening?

Session 17: Wednesday 31 July
Research, ethics, writing from life: Writing fiction has freedoms, but also some responsibilities. A consideration of some ethical issues raised by drawing on real events or real people’s lives in your work.

Session 18: Wednesday 7 August
Theme, Imagery and Symbolism: What are the ‘big ideas’ at work in your novel? How are they translated onto the page via imagery and symbol?

Session 19: Saturday 10 August
Editing part 1 – Structural Editing: All editing requires perspective, but editing for story, plot and structure is very different to a line edit. This session has a focus on the big picture.

Session 20: Wednesday 14 August
Editing part 2 – Close Editing: This session focuses on the process of editing your work on the sentence level, with a focus on elements such as syntax, word choice, clarity and rhythm.

Session 21: Wednesday 21 August
Pitching and synopsis boot camp: How do you describe your work to other people, particularly other professionals? This session talks about the differences between the blurb, the synopsis and the pitch, and how to tackle each.

Session 22: Wednesday 28 August
Character and narrative arcs: How does character drive your novel? A consideration of the relationship between character, plot and structure.

Session 23: Saturday 31 August
Guest acting coach – articulating your project, presentation and pitching: In this special session students are coached by a skilled actor/voice coach in using performance skills for presentations and readings, and also for pitching. In the afternoon you will work on refining and practicing your own pitches.

Session 24: Wednesday 4 September
Language and detail: This session focuses on the use of detail to enrich your writing, and on figurative elements such as simile and metaphor.

Session 25: Wednesday 11 September
Guest agent and pitches: In this session we will be joined by a literary agent. Students will have the opportunity to practice their pitch, and ask questions about getting an agent.

Session 26: Saturday 14 September
Guest writer – the publication process and resolving your novel: A guest writer will discuss their experience of the publication process. The second part of the class will focus on ‘resolving’ your novel in both senses – how to create a satisfying resolution, and how to sustain your momentum as you work towards that elusive finish line.

Session 27: Wednesday 18 September
Guest publisher and pitches: In this session we will be joined by a publisher. Students will have the opportunity to practice their pitch, and ask questions about how to get a publisher’s attention and how to work with them in the long term.

Session 28: Thursday 26 September (Please note this final session is on a Thursday not a Wednesday)
Wrap up: how to maintain your writing practice. Followed by a celebratory dinner.

Faber Writing Anthology sessions:

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

All Saturday sessions are held in person at Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre, 251 Faraday Street Carlton VIC 3053, and are fully catered. Evening sessions are hosted on Zoom, except for the first and final evening sessions, which will take place in person at the Kathleen Syme Library.

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

‘”Exceptional teaching from exceptional writers.”

“My writing has improved – which was my main goal – but I have also benefitted from the course in a myriad of other ways. It has introduced me to so many kind and talented people. It had challenged me to cast my net a lot wider when choosing what to read and helped me appreciate so many different approaches to the craft. It has also given me a confidence boost regarding my own writing – something I certainly needed.”

“I learned so much about finalising my novel in this course, but perhaps my favourite thing was becoming part of a community of dedicated writers who share their feedback, insights, and support. Invaluable!”

How to Apply

Writing a Novel in Melbourne is now booked out.

Use the FREE booking button to join the waitlist and we will let you know if a place becomes available or if the course is scheduled to run again.