Writing a Novel Stage 1

w/ Sophie Cunningham, Emily Bitto and guests

Write your novel, and write it well…

For aspiring novelists ready to leap in, this course will guide you through the process of planning and beginning your novel, developing skills in writing from scratch and establishing a writing practice. Using a combination of targeted writing exercises, group discussion and carefully selected examples, the focus of this course will be on your own writing, with the aim of ending the course with a substantial body of new writing, heading towards a first draft of your novel.

4 March – 20 May 2021 (Three months)

Allen & Unwin – Melbourne

Allen & Unwin – Melbourne
406 Albert Street
East Melbourne VIC 3002

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Course fee: $ 3,250/ $ 2762.50 alumni
$ 2,762.50 for those who sign up for Writing a Novel – Stage 2 at the same time.

• Benefit from the structure of regular classes covering everything from the first conception of an idea through to getting words on a page, narrative structure and style.

• Learn from our experienced Course Directors, as well as guest tutors including top authors, and agents/publishers.

• Receive personalised, one-to-one attention on your project from your tutor.

• Get it done. When undertaken with Writing a Novel: Stage 2, this is a flexible alternative to a creative writing MA, designed for people who might be considering a career and who are prepared to engage fully in the hard work involved. Apart from the workshops, you will be devoting as much time as possible between classes to writing.

• Receive invaluable feedback by having the chance to present your work to your class of other committed novelists.

• Start your career. There is no better way to get on the road to publication than to meet the people who know how to make that happen.

Please note that pending the latest COVID-19 advice this course may be delivered online.

Graduates of Writing a Novel Stage 1  and Stage 2 will have the opportunity to be published in the annual Faber Writing anthology.

Writers you'll be working with:

Sophie Cunningham

Sophie Cunningham is the author of two novels, Geography (2004) and Bird (2008), and three non-fiction works, Melbourne (UNSW Press, 2011), Warning: The Story of Cyclone Tracy (2014) and City of Trees (2019). Her third novel, This Devastating Fever, should be out in 2020. She is an Adjunct Professor at RMIT University (Non-fiction Lab), in the School of Media and Communication at the College of Design and…

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. She has a Masters in Literary Studies and a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Melbourne and has been teaching creative writing for over a decade.

Course outline

The course consists of:
11 x evening sessions (6.30 to 8.30pm AEDT, Thursdays) + 3 x full-day sessions (Saturdays 10.00am to 4.00pm)

The content listed below is comprehensive but is still a guide only. 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.

Session 1: Thursday 4 March

Session 2: Thursday 11 March
Types of prose, showing and telling

Session 3: Thursday 18 March

Session 4: Saturday 20 March
Characters major and minor

Session 5: Thursday 25 March
Point of View

Session 6: Thursday 1 April
Guest Speaker


Session 7: Saturday 10 April
Exercises and workshopping

Session 8: Thursday 15 April

Session 9: Thursday 22 April

Session 10: Thursday 29 April
Rhythm and pace

Session 11: Saturday 1 May
Guest speaker and more on character

Session 12: Thursday 6 May
Narrative drive

Session 13: Thursday 13 May
Guest Speaker

Session 14: Thursday 20 May
Place & Setting

Please note in the event of unforeseen circumstances, courses – including tutors and venues – may be subject to cancellation or change.

Praise for this course

“I have almost finished my first draft of a novel. I was mostly interested in structure. I would have to rate increased confidence in my work as the best outcome of the course.” (2019)

“This has been such a fantastic course and it has helped my writing immensely.” (2018)

How to Apply

To apply you will need to submit, in a single document:

  • A letter briefly stating any writing experience
  • An overview of the idea for your novel and its present stage of development
  • A 1,500-word sample of prose

This process ensures that all applicants are applying for the course best suited to their needs.

Enter your application for Writing a Novel Stage 1 with Sophie Cunningham and Emily Bitto – Melbourne here.

Course fee: $ 3,250/ $ 2762.50 alumni
$ 2,762.50 for those who sign up for Writing a Novel – Stage 2 at the same time.

Successful applicants will be asked to pay a deposit of $1,000/$850 alumni by 10 February. The balance of the course fee, a further $2250/$1912.50 alumni, will be payable in two further instalments of $1125/$956.25 alumni on 28 March and 25 April. In the weeks leading up to these dates you will be sent a link for payment options. Refunds are not available to students who miss sessions or drop out of the course.

* A NOTE FOR NON-ALUMNI: If you wish to also sign up for (8 Jul – 16 Sep) at the same time, you will be eligible for the alumni discount on Stage 1 as well as Stage 2 (a double discount). Please tick the relevant box when you pay your deposit. You will pay an additional $850 deposit for the Writing a Novel: Stage 2 course, i.e. a total of $1,700. If you later decide, after completing Writing a Novel: Stage 1, not to proceed to Writing a Novel: Stage 2, your deposit for Writing a Novel: Stage 2 is non-refundable.