Writing a Novel Stage 2

w/ Sophie Cunningham, Emily Bitto and guests

Write your novel, discover your readers

This three-month course builds on the work started in Writing a Novel Stage 1 and is suitable for writers who have completed that course, or who have a substantially completed a rough or first draft of a novel-in-progress.

21 July – 6 October (3 months)

Faber Writing Academy at Kathleen Syme Library

Kathleen Syme Library
251 Faraday St,
Carlton VIC 3053


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$3,250 / $2,762.50 alumni

Writing a Novel Stage 2 will develop craft and technical skills required to turn a rough draft into a work of art. Using exercises focused on your own work, you’ll 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.

In addition to dedicated course work, students who complete both stages of Writing a Novel will be invited submit to the Faber Writing Anthology, a professionally edited and printed showcase of student work, sent out to leading literary agents and publishers in both Australia and the United Kingdom.

In Writing a Novel Stage 2, you will take part in the ‘Anthology Assembly’. You will meet with the literary editor who works on the anthology, and have the chance to see an extract of your novel professionally edited.

Based inside Australia’s leading independent publishing house, this course gives you invaluable access to the literary community and practical industry connections. This is a skills-based 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 with dedicated guidance from your experienced Course Director, as well as guest tutors drawn from a community of highly respected authors.

• The chance to continue to workshop your novel-in-progress in a supportive small-group setting with limited participant numbers. The connections made during this course will support and foster your work for years to come.

• The opportunity to establish important industry connections with key insiders from the Australian publishing industry. There is no better way to get on the road to publication than to meet the people who make it happen.

• A two-part editorial bootcamp – the Anthology Assembly – where you will meet the editor who will work on the Faber Writing Anthology and receive a professional copy-edit on the work you intend to submit.

Please note that students completing Writing a Novel Stage 1 will have first preference for places in Writing a Novel Stage 2. Places for new students can only be offered if an existing student chooses to discontinue. We will advise new applicants of the availability of places as soon as possible.

Graduates who complete Writing a Novel Stage 1 & 2 will have the opportunity to be published in the annual Faber Writing Anthology.

The Faber Writing Anthology is distributed to publishers and literary agents across Australia and the United Kingdom.

Writers you'll be working with:

Sophie Cunningham

Sophie Cunningham is the author of six books including City of Trees, Geography, Bird and Warning: The Story of Cyclone Tracy. She is a former publisher and editor and is now an Adjunct Professor at RMIT University’s Non/fiction Lab. In 2019 Sophie Cunningham was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her contributions to literature.

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…

Course outline

The course consists of:

11 x evening sessions (Thursdays 6.30pm to 8.30pm AEST) + 3 x weekend face-to-face sessions, including lunch (Saturdays 10am to 4pm) + a two-part online editorial process on a 2000 word sample of writing.

Session 1: Thursday 21 July
Introduction to second semester. 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 2: Thursday 28 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 3: Thursday 5 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 4: Saturday 6 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 5: Thursday 11 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 6: Thursday 18 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 7: Saturday 20 August
Acting coach and articulating your project
Guest: 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 8: Thursday 25 August
Character and narrative arcs
How does character drive your novel? A consideration of the relationship between character, plot and structure.

Session 9: Thursday 1 September August
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 10: ANTHOLOGY ASSEMBLY: Wednesday 31 August: Meet the Faber Writing Anthology Editor

Session 11: Saturday 3 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 12: Thursday 8 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 13: Thursday 15 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.

 BREAK + ANTHOLOGY ASSEMBLY: During this break you will partake in the copy-editing process on your piece for the Faber Writing Anthology with a Senior Editor. This work will be done via email.

Session 14: Thursday 6 October
Wrap up: how to maintain your writing practice
Followed by a celebratory dinner.

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 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

“Loved the course. The sessions on craft led by both Emily and Sophie were fantastic. I got
a lot of writing done and they really challenged me to push myself.” (2021)

“The best thing about our course was how open, honest and available our teachers were. I
was surprised that they were so supportive. They created an incredibly nurturing
environment.” (2021)

“…we learned so much in such a short space of time and it was all personalised. Plus we got to learn from industry superstars representing all facets of the publishing business. You simply couldn’t get that value for money from a book or an online course.” (2019)

“The content was what blew me away – I have read many books on writing but this was so much more insightful and useful. I loved all of the techniques and knowing that you can fix most things in editing. ” (2019)

“I have done writing courses before but this far outstrips any of them: the fundamentals of voice, plot, turning points, technical structures, have been invaluable. Engaging, encouraging and incredibly knowledgeable.” (2016)

How to Apply

To apply your 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 and allows the tutor to familiarise themselves with your work.

Enter your application for Writing a Novel Stage 2 here.

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

Payment information for successful applicants:

Once you receive the offer of a place in Writing a Novel Stage 2 you will be sent a payment link to pay a deposit of $ 500/$ 425 alumni or the full course fee $ 3,250/$ 2,762.50 alumni.

If you pay the deposit only, two further payments of $ 1,375/$ 1,168.75 will be required, the first by 19 August and the second by 16 September 2022.