Online: Year of the Novel – Phase Two

Emily Maguire

31 May to 31 July 2021, online

Full Price: $970

Member: $730

Conc Member: $630

This course is SOLD OUTjoin our waitlist to be informed if any spaces become available. 

In this eight-week online writing workshop, acclaimed author Emily Maguire will give you the tools, support and encouragement you need to plan, edit and write your novel.

Is this course right for you? Read our FAQ before enrolling>> 

In the course’s second phase we’ll put some flesh on the bones of your novel, looking at structure, style and theme, and going deeper still with character, voice and plot. As we approach the year’s half-way mark we’ll also talk about how to stay focused and motivated to see this thing through to the end. We will open for enrolments into Phase Three of Year of the Novel in July.

Throughout, Emily will use examples from classic and contemporary fiction and from students’ work-in-progress to explore the topics covered, and guest speakers will share their insights to further expand your understanding of how published writers do what they do.

To benefit from this course, you should be working on a novel. You can contact us with any questions before enrolling.

The course takes place on a user-friendly website designed specifically for writing courses, in combination with Zoom sessions. The Zoom sessions will take place on select Tuesday evenings from 6:30pm AET. Zoom sessions are optional but encouraged.

Sharing and discussion will be encouraged, and there will be ample opportunity for you to speak to the group about how various techniques and lessons may be applicable to your specific project, however, one-on-one detailed feedback from the tutor will be limited.

(Please note that while the three phases are designed to build on each other, each may also be taken as a stand-alone unit.)

Course Outline

Phase Two: Muscles, guts, flesh and blood

Phase two is all about putting flesh on the bones of your novel, giving your story depth and force and vigour by looking at structure, style and theme, and going deeper with character, voice and plot.

1. Workshopping what needs to be done

Whether you’re back from the break after Phase One, or starting with us for the first time, this is a week to take stock of your work in progress.

2. Structure

Structure is what turns a collection of scenes into a satisfying novel. We’ll talk about scenes and story arcs, and look at some common structural templates.

 3. Character: going deeper                                                                             

Avoiding stereotypes, identifying archetypes and making full use of minor and supporting characters.

4. Advanced plotting: the relationship between character and plot

Is your character mostly pulled through events by twists of fate or is your plot driven by choices your character makes? We’ll look at how integrating character and plot makes both elements stronger.

 5. Suspense, story questions and narrative drive                                           

This is where we ask ourselves: how am I going to keep the reader turning pages? We’ll look at backstory, time-jumps, transitions and pacing.

6. Voice, tone and style

What is voice and how do you find, or develop, yours? What’s the relationship between voice and tone? We’ll talk about metaphor, imagery and finding the exact right word every time.

7. Point of view: going deeper

Who’s telling this story? What do they know and how do they know it? How does ‘head-hopping’ differ from omniscient POV? Answers to these questions and more as we dive deeper into POV.

8. Forging on

We’ve been working on our novels for over half the year by now. It’s time to talk about smashing writer’s block, pushing through frustration and dealing with doubt.

Each week during the course, a new lesson will be posted online. Participants will have the week to work through the content and post responses to exercises designed to put the theory we’re learning into practice.

In Phase Two there will be the opportunity to submit short extracts of your novel-in-progress for feedback from both tutor and peers. You’ll also be able to get support and discuss the challenges and delights of the writing process in our class forum.

There will be three optional Zoom sessions, where participants can ask the tutor questions, as well as two special Zoom events in which participants will hear from guest speakers about their writing life. Zoom events will take place on Tuesday evenings from 6:30pm, exact dates TBD.

Participant Requirements

Internet access and confidence using basic computer software are essential for this course. On the day this course starts by 10am, you will receive an email with an invitation link to join the online classroom. Please read our FAQ before enrolling>>

This course is designed for writers of fiction. If you have a narrative non-fiction manuscript and are interested in enrolling in this course, please contact us to discuss.


‘Emily is a great tutor. She generously gives from her extensive practical experience. She is sensitive to the different amount of experience in the group and the different genres they write.’ – David

Get to know the tutor

Get to know our fabulous tutor Emily Maguire by checking out her website and you can read our interview with her here. Below check out a podcast interview with Emily Maguire from our friends at James and Ashley Stay at Home.

More from Writing NSW

Check out our full range of in-person writing courses in Sydney, our online writing courses and our feedback programs to see how we can help you on your writing journey. Find out about our grants and prizes, as well as writing groups across NSW, and sign up to our weekly newsletter for writing events, opportunities and giveaways.

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