Writing Creative Nonfiction

w/ Rebecca Giggs

For emerging nonfiction writers ready to leap in and get serious, this course will guide you through the process of planning your manuscript, to embarking on your book proposal. You will develop key skills in research, storytelling, and self-characterisation, while establishing a dedicated writing practice. Whether you are writing first-person memoir, creative essays, social history, detailed biography or researched reportage, this course will help you find the best way to present your facts.

21 February – 26 September 2023
Tuesdays, 6.30 – 8.30 pm (ADST/AEST)

$3,500 / $2,975 alumni

This is a past course.

Across the span of nine months, 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.

Nonfiction can, in many cases, be sold to a publisher off the strength of a book proposal and a set of sample chapters. In this intensive, practical program you will be taught the essentials of putting together a solid working document to show to agents and publishers as a ‘proof of concept.’ With this in mind, and building on the foundational skills of writing nonfiction – concept proofing, research and reporting, genre conventions, understanding personal connection to material, structure and form – the second half of the program is designed to give you dedicated space to begin building a compelling and captivating book proposal.

You will have time and expert guidance to develop strong sample chapters, and a synopsis with genuine cut-through that demonstrates this is the book that only you can write. You will develop a clear understanding of how your manuscript might fit in the marketplace and who its readers will be.

With a reading list and guest speakers from around Australia who are experts in creative nonfiction, this program will connect you with the industry and help you think about your work with your ideal readers in mind. Using a combination of targeted writing exercises, group discussion and focused feedback sessions, this course will be centred on your own writing, with the aim of ending the course heading towards a substantial first draft of your manuscript and a compelling proposal to present to potential agents and publishers.

Students who complete Writing Creative Nonfiction will have their work featured in a special nonfiction edition of our highly sought-after Faber Writing Anthology, a professionally edited and printed showcase of student work, sent to leading literary agents and publishers across both Australia and the United Kingdom.

Your course includes:

  • Publication in the Faber Writing Anthology
  • A complimentary copy of a recent A&U publication
  • On completion of the course, alumni discounts on future Faber Writing Academy courses and books from the Allen & Unwin website.

Writers you'll be working with:

Rebecca Giggs

Rebecca Giggs is an author from Perth, Australia. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Emergence, 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…

Course outline

15 x evening Tuesday sessions, 6.30 – 8.30 pm (ADST/AEST) plus Anthology workshopping

Session 1: Tuesday 21 February
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 28 February
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 7 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 14 March
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 21 March
Guest-speaker + one-on-one consultations on Monday and Tuesday afternoon, each half an hour long.

Session 6: Tuesday 28 March
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 4 April
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 16 May
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 23 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 30 May
Guest-speaker + one-on-one consultations on Monday and Tuesday afternoon, each half an hour long.

Session 11: Tuesday 6 June
Editing Boot Camp: Rewriting, revisioning and how to know when you’re ready for ‘the final edit’.


Session 12: Tuesday 29 August
Commercial Contexts of Creative Nonfiction: Exploring market contexts, key components and identifying readerships. At what point in the project should I write a book proposal?

Session 13: Tuesday 5 September
Commercial Contexts of Creative Nonfiction continued: considering the synopsis and overview, inducing curiosity, book structure. How important is the chapter breakdown and what opportunities are there for marketing and promotion?

Two week workshopping with the Faber Writing Academy’s Editor-in-Residence on book proposal materials and sample chapter to be included in the Faber Writing Anthology.

Session 14: Tuesday 19 September
Writing Your Project Synopsis: how to surmise your project succinctly.

Session 15: Tuesday 26 September
Writing Your Bio, and Course Conclusion: query letters and agents; how to process feedback. Where to now?

Praise for this course

“I think the course was a fantastic blend of creative and publishing-savvy input from Rebecca Giggs. I also gained much from wonderful and sensitive contributions of other
course participants, through class discussions and workshopping.”

“Rebecca was brilliant as a teacher and course/content deliverer and was able to make the group feel relaxed and at ease while also providing generous and helpful feedback.”

“The one on one workshops with Rebecca were really fantastic – Rebecca gave her all to them and both were so worth it, I learnt the most from her feedback on my individual

How to Apply

This is a past course.