Writing a Novel Stage 2

w/ Sophie Cunningham and Emily Bitto + guests, including leading industry agents/publishers

Write your novel, and write it well…

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 rough or first draft of a novel-in-progress. This course 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 novelists’ craft and how it applies to your own novel.

8 July – 16 September 2021 (3 months)

Allen & Unwin – Melbourne

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

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$3,250 / $2,760 alumni


• Benefit from the structure of regular classes covering everything from playing with genre, the power of what is unspoken and using scenes and narrative summary to maintain momentum.

• 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 1 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 with unrivalled access to those who know. There is no better way to get on the road to publication than to meet the people who know how to make that happen. Hear talks from people in the industry, then read to a room of agents at course completion.

Please note that while Writing a Novel: Stage 1 and Writing a Novel: Stage 2 are designed to build on each other, each may be taken as a stand-alone course. Talk to us if you need guidance on which one is best for you.

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.

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


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

The Anthology is  distributed to Australian publishers and literary agents ensuring the work of students is seen by influential decision makers throughout the Australian publishing world.

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. 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 (Thursdays 6.30pm-8.30pm) + 3 x Saturdays (9am-12pm)

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 8 July
Taking Stock: What do you know, what is unknown (and why this matters). Listening to your characters and finessing voice.

Session 2: Thursday 15 July
Scenes: what a scene is, what is does, and how to make them work. Using action and reflection scenes to build momentum.

Session 3: Saturday 17 July
Structure: Heroism and vulnerability. Structure that transforms. Guest tutor – Ross Grayson Bell (developer and producer of Fight Club).

Session 4: Thursday 22 July
Exposition and backstory: How to write and edit narrative summary (and why we need it). Using summary to maintain momentum.
Pacing and the passage of time. Individual mentor sessions.

Session 5: Thursday 29 July
Character: Three ways into character. Making use of the unspoken and revealing character on the page.

Session 6: Thursday 5 August
Dialogue: Listening; recording; pace; precision. Imagined truth and overheard truth.

Session 7: Saturday 7 August
Place and setting: making the setting do narrative and emotive work. Bringing place to life. Infusing place with mood.

Session 8: Thursday 12 August
Turning points – making use of internal and external change. Moving pieces around to create a structure that’s true to your story. One-to-one mentor sessions.

Session 9: Thursday 19 August
(Re)writing the Beginning. How to find the right place to start now that you know where you are.

Session 10: Thursday 26 August
Endings: getting the balance right. Have you fulfilled the promise and answered the question? How much satisfaction is enough? Staying true to style and world.

Session 11: Saturday 28 August
Editing Boot Camp – Rewriting revisioning and the final edit.

Session 12: Thursday 2 September
Guest: presentation and pitching. In this special session students are coached by a skilled actor/director in using performance skills for presentations and readings, and also for pitching.

Session 13: Thursday 9 September
Guest publisher.

Session 14:Thursday 16 September
Final session: moving on, maintaining momentum.

After the conclusion of the program, students will have an option to take part in the launch of the Faber Writing Academy Anthology 2021 which includes industry guests.

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 think the course was really well run and structured. The tutors’ engagement with each of us, and each topic, was excellent.” (2019)

[most helpful outcome]…”The career guidance, putting my solitary writing pursuit in a wider picture, connecting to a community.” (2019)

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 2,500-word sample of prose.

This process ensures that all applicants are applying for the course best suited to their needs and allows tutors to familiarise themselves with your work.

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

Enter your application for Writing a Novel Stage 2 here.