sydney
sydney

Writing a Novel Stage 2

w/ Margo Lanagan, Gretchen Shirm 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.

19 July – 4 October (3 months)

Allen & Unwin – Sydney

Faber Writing Academy at Allen & Unwin – Sydney
83 Alexander Street
Crows Nest NSW 2065

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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:

Margo Lanagan

Margo Lanagan has published two dark fantasy novels (Tender Morsels and Sea Hearts), seven short story collections including the breakout Black Juice, ten teenage romance novels, three junior fantasy novels, two young adult novels and a children’s picture book. She collaborated with Scott Westerfeld and Deborah Biancotti on the New York Times bestselling YA superheroes trilogy, Zeroes. Her most recent…

Gretchen Shirm

Gretchen Shirm is the author of a collection of short stories Having Cried Wolf, for which she named a 2011 Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Australian Novelist. Her first novel Where the Light Falls, was shortlisted for the 2017 Christina Stead Prize for Fiction in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. Her short stories have been…

Course outline

The course consists of:

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

Evening sessions are hosted on Zoom, with the exception of the first and final evening sessions, which will take place at the Allen & Unwin offices. All Saturday sessions are held in person and are fully catered at the Allen & Unwin offices.

Session 1: Tuesday 19 July
Taking stock: 
What you know about your novel, what you still don’t know. Telling the story that wants to be told.

Session 2: Tuesday 26 July
Explaining on the move:
Exposition and back story. Pacing and time transitions.

Session 3: Tuesday 2 August
Guest tutor.

Session 4: Saturday 6 August
Characters in depth:
Three ways to reveal and deepen character.

Session 5: Tuesday 9 August
Elephants in the room:
The power of secrets. What characters leave unsaid; what writers withhold.

Session 6: Tuesday 16 August
Dialogue in-depth:
Mixed messages, slip-ups and speech under stress.

Session 7: Saturday 20 August
Place and setting in-depth:
Making the setting do narrative and emotive work. Bringing place to life. Infusing place with mood.

Session 8: Tuesday 23 August
Guest author:
The business of being a writer.

Session 9: Tuesday 30 August
The big rewrite:
Structural editing—revisioning, reordering, orchestrating, rewriting the beginning.

Session 10: ANTHOLOGY ASSEMBLY: Wednesday 31 August: Meet the Faber Writing Anthology Editor

Session 11: Saturday 3 September
Guest tutor:
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 12: Tuesday 6 September
The close edit:
Working on sentences for clarity, sense and precision. Demonstration and practice.

Session 13: Tuesday 13 September
Guest publisher.

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: Tuesday 4 October
Final session:
Moving on, maintaining momentum.

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

“…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.