Writing a Novel Stage 1

w/ Miles Allinson, Emily Bitto and guests

Write your novel, discover your readers

For aspiring and emerging novelists ready to dive in and commit to completing a full manuscript, this course will guide you through the process of planning and plotting your novel, while developing essential skills in writing, and establishing a dedicated writing practice.

2 March – 1 June 2022 (3 months)

Faber Writing Academy at Kathleen Syme Library

Kathleen Syme Library
251 Faraday St,
Carlton VIC 3053


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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.

Using a proven combination of craft-focused tuition, targeted writing exercises, group discussions and carefully selected readings, the focus of this course will be on your own work, with the aim of ending the course with a complete first draft of your novel.  

Based inside Australia’s leading independent publishing house, this course gives you invaluable access to the literary community. Writing a Novel Stage 1 is a targeted program specifically designed to help you find the focus you need to stay the distance and finish your manuscript draft.  

For three months, your Course Directors will provide you with:

Regular classes covering everything from the first conception of an idea through to getting words down on the page, narrative structure and style.

• Dedicated guidance from your experienced Course Directors, as well as guest tutors drawn from a community of highly respected authors.

• A personalised individual consultation on your project from your Course Directors.

• The chance to workshop your novel-in-progress in a supportive small-group setting with limited participant numbers.

• The ability to connect with fellow committed novelists, building a close-knit community of trusted readers. The connections made during this course will support and foster your work for years to come.

In addition to course work, students who complete both stages of Writing a Novel will be invited contribute to the Faber Writing Anthology, a professionally edited and printed showcase of student work. At the end of these two programs, an extract of your manuscript should be in perfect shape to submit to our anthology, which is then sent out to an extensive list of leading literary agents and publishers in both Australia and across the United Kingdom.

Writers you'll be working with:

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 September 2021. He is a former Creative Fellow at the State Library Victoria and a former writer in residence at the University of…

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:
12 x evening sessions (6.30 to 8.30pm AEDT, Wednesdays) + 3 x full-day sessions (Saturdays 10.00am to 4.00pm AEDT)

Session 1: Wednesday 2 March
Introductory Session: Goals, obstacles and creative process: Why are you writing? What matters? What are your themes? Why this story, and what might the hidden stories be? What is your creative Process? How can you harness your creative instincts?

Session 2: Wednesday 9 March
Voice Part 1: What is the voice and tone of your novel? Who is telling the story? How and when? Will it be first, second or third person? Is your narrator present or absent? What tone best suits the things you know?

Session 3: Wednesday 16 March
Reading as a writer: How to use techniques of close, targeted reading as an ongoing way of improving your craft.

Session 4: Saturday 19 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 5: Wednesday 23 March
Fiction and Autobiography: 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 6: Wednesday 30 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 7: Saturday 2 April
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 8: Wednesday 6 April
Voice Part 2. What is the prose style of your novel? What is the relationship between style, tone and voice? What makes a compelling sentence?


Session 9: Wednesday 27 April
Place, setting, world building: Writing place convincingly. Setting as inspiration and as character.

Session 10: Wednesday 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 11: Saturday 7 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 11 May
Showing and Telling: Giving your writing power and subtlety through techniques of ‘showing.’ Learning to trust your reader.

Session 13: Wednesday 18 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 14: Wednesday 25 May
Guest Industry professional: An industry professional will share their experience with you and answer your questions.

Session 15: Wednesday 1 June
Where to Now? Consolidating, taking stock and moving forward.

Weeknight sessions are hosted on Zoom, except for the first and final evening sessions, which will take place at the Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre. All Saturday sessions are held in person and are fully catered.

The content listed above 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.

Praise for this course

“A fabulous experience…We also got the jackpot in terms of our group mix. Feel very fortunate to have landed with such a fantastic and supportive group of writers. It’s been wonderful.” 2021

“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 here.

Course fee: $3,250 / $2,762.50 alumni

Successful applicants will be asked to pay a deposit of $500/$425 alumni by 8 February. The balance of the course fee, a further $2,750/$2,337.50 alumni, will be payable in two further instalments of $1,375/$ 1,168.75 alumni on 29 March and 26 April respectively. In the week leading up to these dates you will be sent a link for payment options.

If you are new to Faber Writing Academy and wish to sign up for both Stage 1 and Stage 2, you will be eligible for the 15% alumni discount. Please select the relevant option when you pay your deposit. You will pay an additional $500 deposit for the Writing a Novel Stage 2 course, i.e. a total of $1,000.