Writing Historical Fiction

w/ Lauren Chater and guests

A fascination with history can be transformed into daring works of fiction. In this course, writers will discover opportunities to illuminate the past and learn how to shape and write compelling fiction based on rich historical sources. Whether your goal is to write short stories, a novella, or a full-length manuscript, this program will help open your mind to the creative possibilities of historical fiction.

6 August – 24 September 2024
Tuesday evenings, 6.30pm – 8.30pm (AEST)


$816/ $693.60 alumni


Hilary Mantel, two-time Man-Booker prize-winner said, ‘History is not the past: it’s the method we’ve evolved of organising our ignorance of the past… It’s what’s left in the sieve when the centuries have run through it.’

This course will help you pick through the sieve to find the gold you need to tell your story.

Over eight weeks, under the guidance of Lauren Chater, author of three historical novels, we will explore the most important elements of historical fiction including setting, voice, structure, research and rewriting. Through weekly exercises we will explore how the best writers of this genre weave together fact and fiction to create memorable stories and characters that will intrigue and enchant readers.

In the final sessions you will have the chance to meet publishing professionals, who will share their insider knowledge of how historical fiction is signed and sold.

Your course includes:

• 8 weeks of 2 hour evening tutorials
• A complimentary copy of a recent A&U publication
• On completion of the course, alumni discount of 15% on future Faber Writing Academy courses and books from the Allen & Unwin Website

 Lauren Chater, will also read the first chapter (or 3000 words) of your manuscript and provide personalised feedback.

Writers you'll be working with:

Lauren Chater

Lauren Chater is the author of four historical novels – The Lace Weaver (2018), Gulliver’s Wife (2020), The Winter Dress (2022) and The Beauties (2024), all published by Simon & Schuster. In 2018 she was awarded a grant by the Neilma Sidney Literary Travel Fund to visit The Netherlands to research her third book. She…

Course outline

The course consists of eight evening online sessions, Tuesdays, 6.30 – 8.30pm (AEST).

Session 1: Tuesday 6 August
Introduction to setting and world-building

In this session, we will meet our fellow classmates and talk a little about our projects and what we hope to achieve throughout the course. One of the fundamental challenges of writing historical fiction is to create an immersive and believable setting. Using examples from some of the best works of historical fiction, we explore how to ground our stories in real times and locations and engage in exercises to identify what we need to know in order to imbue our work with a sense of authority and credibility

Session 2: Tuesday 13 August
Mastering voice

Voice is arguably the most important element of creative writing. A mixture of style, subject matter and point-of-view, voice is essential to building a cohesive narrative. It’s also one of the most difficult to get right. In this lesson, we will examine the history of voice from its origins as a tool to speak with the dead to its use in fiction as a way of channelling information to the reader. We will examine different types of voice and explore how a combination of all three helps us shape and define the stories we want to tell.

Session 3: Tuesday 20 August
Structure and plot

The way you structure your work determines how the reader experiences the story and creates meaning through the events you choose to reveal. A sound understanding of the principles of structure is essential to writing a satisfying narrative that delivers a delicious payoff for the reader and keeps them coming back for more. Through the examination of a variety of structural frameworks, we will determine which structure might work best for you and explore how the use of techniques such as foreshadowing, flashback and framing narratives can elevate your writing to make it stand out from the crowd.

Session 4: Tuesday 27 August
Research for writers
Learning how to research is an essential skill for writers but if you’ve never worked on a big research project, it can be hard to know where to start. In this session, we will be joined by a guest author to talk about the relationship between research and story, the importance of giving the narrative room to breathe and how to write without being overwhelmed by research.

Session 5: Tuesday 3 September
Rewriting and editing your own work

Finishing a draft is a huge achievement, but the hard work isn’t over. Editing and redrafting requires you to put some distance between yourself and your manuscript and read with fresh eyes. In this lesson, we discuss different approaches to redrafting, what to do if you hit a roadblock and can’t see a way forward and the different types of edits you will need to undertake to get your manuscript ready for submission.

Session 6: Tuesday 10 September
Working with a professional editor
This week, we pull back the publishing curtain to examine the unique relationship between writer and editor.

Session 7: Tuesday 17 September
Working with an agent or publisher
If you’re aiming to have your work published traditionally, you will need to approach publishers either yourself or through an agent. This week we will look at the role of agents and publishers and the different roles they occupy within the publishing industry, with a special industry guest.

Session 8: Tuesday 24 September
Providing/receiving feedback and developing a support network
One of the most important skills we need to learn as writers and artists is how to give and receive feedback. Being edited can be a confronting process. We need to treat other writers work the way we wish ours to be treated – respectfully but with a view to improving the story and highlighting its strengths and weaknesses. In this final class, we explore how to deal with rejection, identify flaws in our work and integrate feedback from (trusted) readers. We will discuss the importance of developing a support network and how to connect with other historical fiction writers. Finally, we reflect on what we’ve learned during the course and consider how to move forward with our projects to meet our goals.


Praise for this course

“Lauren welcomed us into her world and showed us the real journey of writing historical fiction, from the initial research to the polished final draft, with brilliant informative sessions, industry insider tidbits and lots of laughs along the way.”

“Historical fiction is a highly specialised genre, so to have the opportunity to be taught by Lauren Chater, a successful Australian writer in this space, was a real privilege. Lauren is a warm, empathetic and knowledgeable presenter, who cares about her students and delivers a comprehensive, relevant and inclusive online course. Highly recommended.”

“Lauren Chater’s course is a must for all writing students of Historical Fiction.”

How to Book

Purchase Includes 10% tax

You can choose to pay the deposit ($ 216/ $ 183.60 alumni) or the full course fee ($816/ $693.60 alumni).

If you pay the deposit only, two further payments of $ 300/ $ 255.0 alumni, will be required. Payment instructions will be sent closer to the time.