Writing Creative Nonfiction Stage 1

w/ Rebecca Giggs

For aspiring literary nonfiction writers ready to leap in and get serious, this course will guide you through the process of planning and beginning your manuscript. You will develop key skills in collecting information, storytelling, reviewing material, and establishing a dedicated writing practice. Whether you are planning to write first-person memoir or deeply-researched reportage, this course will help you find the best way to present your facts.

15 March – 31 May (3 months)

11 x evening sessions (Tuesdays 6.30pm to 8.30pm AEDT) + 2 x 30-minute sessions of one-on-one time with your tutor


$ 2,250 / $ 1912.50 alumni

This is a past course.

Award-winning author Rebecca Giggs will lead you through the process of writing engaging and authentic nonfiction: coming up with a promising concept; planning your research, from interviewing and deep reading through to immersive adventures; crafting memorable scenes and unforgettable stories; and rewriting (and rewriting, and rewriting) your drafts, until your words do justice to the world they describe.

With a reading list and guest speakers from around the world who are experts in creative nonfiction practice, this program will teach you what you need to make your writing stand out on the page and give readers what they are craving.

Using a combination of targeted writing exercises, group discussion and focused feedback sessions, 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 manuscript.

  • Benefit from the structure of regular classes covering everything from the first conception of an idea through to pitching to publishers, encompassing note-taking, first draft(s), narrative structure, voice and style.
  • Learn from our experienced Course Director, as well as guest tutors including top authors, editors and agents.
  • Receive a personalised consultation on your project from your Course Director.
  • Get it done. When undertaken in conjunction with The Book Proposal: Writing Creative Nonfiction Stage 2, this is a flexible alternative to a creative writing MA, designed for people who are taking getting published seriously and who are prepared to fully engage in the hard work involved. In addition to these 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 creative nonfiction writers.
  • Kickstart 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.

This course can be followed with The Book Proposal: Writing Creative Nonfiction Stage 2.

Graduates of both Writing Creative Nonfiction: Stage 1 and The Book Proposal: Writing Creative Nonfiction Stage 2 will have the opportunity to be published in the annual Faber Writing anthology.

We are pleased to announce a NEW 2022 Faber Writing Scholarship for Writing Creative Nonfiction – details here.

Writers you'll be working with:

Rebecca Giggs

Rebecca Giggs is an author from Perth, Australia. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, the New York Times Magazine, Granta, and in anthologies including Best Australian Essays, and Best Australian Science Writing. Rebecca’s nonfiction focuses on how people feel towards animals in a time of technological and ecological change. Rebecca’s debut book, Fathoms: The World in the Whale, was…

Course outline

11 x evening sessions (Tuesdays 6.30pm to 8.30pm AEDT) + 2 x 30-minute one-on-one sessions with your Course Director.

The content listed below is comprehensive, but is still a guide only. The exact course content will be adjusted according to the experience and concerns of the group and the 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: Tuesday 15 March
Introductory Session: Creative nonfiction codes and conventions; use of narrative; finding your personal stake in the material. Identifying voice; distinguishing scene and exposition.

Session 2: Tuesday 22 March
Beginnings: note-taking, planning and research. Writerly reading. Establishing your practice and routines. Inspiration (and perspiration). Modulating your voice, and including the voices of others.

Session 3: Tuesday 29 March
Evocations: object, images, moments. The qualities of good description. Capturing the marvellous essence of things. Making your readers see, hear, remember – and feel. Characterising real people.

Session 4: Tuesday 5 April
Events: A focus on scene-writing; action; dialogue; developing ‘guiding questions’ for an essay, chapter or book. An introduction to interview technique.


Session 5: Tuesday 19 April
Guest-speaker TBA.

Session 6: Tuesday 26 April + one-on-one consultations on Monday and Tuesday afternoon, each half an hour long.
Doing Research: traditional and non-traditional research strategies; making research come to you; integrating ‘data’ into experiential writing; identifying sources. Beginning to think about the target reader; developing an angle.

Session 7: Tuesday 3 May
Structure: opening paragraphs; recording the research journey; using themes and motifs as structural aids; roadmaps and endings. Taking structural inspiration from other texts, and other artforms. Titles, subtitles, headlines and other framing devices.

Session 8: Tuesday 10 May + one-on-one consultations on Monday and Tuesday afternoon, each half an hour long
Pacing and Tension: Chronology vs argumentation. Conflict: Why conflict matters, how to find it and use it to escalate drama. Narrative arc and real-world events. We return to our ‘guiding questions’.

Session 9: Tuesday 17 May
Experiments with form: now that it’s coming together, let’s mix it up! Fragments, digressions and other creative, non-traditional approaches to crafting nonfiction..

Session 10: Tuesday 24 May
Guest-speaker TBA.

Session 11: Tuesday 31 May
Editing Boot Camp: Rewriting, revisioning and how to know when you’re ready for ‘the final edit’.

Praise for this course

“Rebecca was really informative, she tailored the content to us and what we wanted as well as providing what was on the original course outline.” 2021

“Rebecca was very generous with her knowledge, experience and advice – I really enjoyed her teaching style. It was also insightful, interesting and much appreciated to have authors and an agent join us to share their experience & perspective.” 2021

“It is the best value for money writing course I have done to date – thank you!” 2021

“(most helpful aspect of the course)…Being part of a community all on the same journey together. Having a teacher that really knows their stuff and is generous and thoughtful in how they share knowledge and feedback.” 2021

How to Apply

This is a past course.