Writing the Essay

w/ Eda Gunaydin

This course will teach you the fundamentals of essay writing, while working on your own piece, covering craft essentials including style, subject, structure, tone and argument. From Montaigne on, this malleable, hybrid and ever-evolving form has been a perennial place of experimentation, where the writer can trial ideas, explore the world around them, test statements and pose new questions.

Tuesdays 6.30 – 8.30pm (AEDT), 7 May – 4 June 

$475 / $403.75 alumni

Successful essays capture the reader from the opening paragraph, carrying them along with vivid scenes, fresh ideas and engaging writing. Whether you wish to pursue a personal curiosity, or to contribute to public discussion and debate, the essay is an important forum for communicating with the world at large. An essay is a dialogue, and knowing how to start that conversation is a must.

In this 5-week course, you will look at different topics and types of essay writing, introducing subgenres including personal memoir, reportage, criticism and biography. Successful essays often cross boundaries, both literally and metaphorically, and it’s important to understand the rules before you can challenge them. Working with award-winning essayist Eda Gunaydin, we will explore how the essay can absorb readers and what makes an essay captivating, supported by generative writing exercises to refine your technique and spark original essay ideas to follow through on.

We will conclude the course with the practicalities of pitching an essay. You will gain insight into what publications are out there, and meet an editor who regularly receives pitches from emerging and established essayists. Students should walk away from the course with a finished essay draft, ready to polish and submit to a literary magazine or competition. This course is open to writers of all levels and experiences.

This program will also include the rare opportunity to have your essay copy-edited by our Editor-in-Residence at Allen & Unwin. You will work towards providing a 2000–3000-word piece, which will receive two rounds of revisions returned to you following the conclusion of the course.

Writers you'll be working with:

Eda Gunaydin

Eda Gunaydin is a Turkish-Australian essayist and researcher whose writing explores class, intergenerational trauma and diaspora. Her collection Root & Branch: Essays on Inheritance (NewSouth Publishing) won the 2023 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Matt Richell Prize for New Writer of the Year at the 2023 ABIAs. Her essays have been published in the Sydney Review of Books, Cordite,…

Course outline

Session One: Tuesday 7 May
Introducing the Literary Essay –
This week provides a broad overview of the essay as a genre. After discussing the essay’s historical origins, unique characteristics and literary possibilities, we will then undertake practical exercises for generating your own original and engaging essay ideas.

Session Two: Tuesday 14 May
Subgenres of the Essay –
In the second week, we’ll dive into the essay’s subgenres including the personal essay, the critical essay, the lyric essay and literary reportage. Reading successful examples from various practitioners, we will examine the particular qualities of each subgenre, and begin deciding what form our own essays might take.

Session Three: Tuesday 21 May
Gathering Your Materials –
Research is a crucial component of the essay in any of its permutations. This week focuses upon the research process – whether that be conducting interviews, delving into the archives or revisiting old diaries – with practical tips on how to gather materials and integrate research in ways that enliven your ideas.

Session Four: Tuesday 28 May
Crafting Your Essay –
 This week will focus on various craft techniques. As our first drafts start taking shape we will drill down into methods for approaching structure, voice and style, offering a range of examples, exercises and tips for refining your prose and keeping your reader captivated.

Session Five: Tuesday 4 June
Audiences, Editing, Publication –
In the final session participants will get the chance to hear from a working editor, who will share tips on pitching your work, polishing your pieces and what publications are looking for. We will also provide an overview of local outlets, prizes and other practical ways to find your audience.

How to Book

Purchase Includes 10% tax