Year of the Novel – Phase One

Emily Maguire

Phase One: 8 x Tuesdays: 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 March; 5, 12, 26 April, 6:30-9:30pm

Prices below are for Phase One only
Full Price: $970
Member: $730
Conc Member: $630

This course is now SOLD OUT! Sign up for our waitlist here to find out when it’s running again. In the meantime, check out our list of current courses or sign up for our Newsbite weekly newsletter for updates.

Participants in face to face courses must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and must comply with any other precautionary measures Writing NSW puts in place.

Make 2022 the year you finally write that book in this online course from acclaimed author Emily Maguire. Over three phases of eight weeks each, you’ll receive the tools, support and encouragement you need to plan, write and edit your novel.

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

Course Overview

In the first phase, we’ll work on getting the bare bones of your novel down on paper (or screen). We’ll talk about generating ideas and planning, and look at the basic elements of fiction – point of view, voice, narration, character, plot, dialogue and setting.

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.

Finally, in phase three, we’ll work on turning your very good novel into a brilliant one. We’ll cut the fat, plump up the too-lean bits, polish the language and ensure you have the knowledge and skills necessary to launch your novel into the world.

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.

At the end of the year, we’ll celebrate your accomplishments by throwing a party at which friends, family, other writers and industry insiders can hear you read from your novel.

You should come to the first class with a specific work-in-progress or idea for a novel. 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. Phases Two and Three will be open to enrolment later in the year. If you would like to enrol in the whole year, you can go here>>

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

Phase One: Writing the bones

This phase is all about getting the bare bones of your novel down on paper (or screen). We’ll talk about generating ideas and planning, and look at the basic elements of fiction – point of view, voice, narration, character, plot, dialogue and setting.

1. Introduction and planning

Setting goals, creating structure, identifying obstacles and figuring out ways to get past them.

2. Inspiration

Generating ideas, re-invigorating memories, stealing from life, stealing from history and making the old and tired, vigorous and new.

3. Story and plot

The difference between story and plot, and how you can make one into the other.         

4. Character

In this session we’ll discuss what makes a character complex and compelling and what you can do to make your characters as alive on the page as they are in your head.

5. Point of view and voice

We’ll talk about the advantages and disadvantages of first, second and third POV, and which works best in what circumstances. We’ll also consider the relationship between POV and voice.

6. Showing and telling

Beginner writers are often told to ‘show, not tell’, but it’s not as simple as that. This week we’ll talk about the difference between showing and telling, and how to get the balance right.

7. Dialogue

Dialogue is an essential tool in both characterisation and plot development. We’ll discuss how brilliantly written dialogue can make your characters more believable, your plot more suspenseful and the world of your novel more vibrant.

8. Setting

Using the details of time and place to create atmosphere and solidify your invented world.

Participant Requirements

Pen and paper or preferred device for writing. Please ensure your device is charged. You should come to the first class with a specific work-in-progress or idea for a novel.

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.

If you are feeling unwell and experiencing any COVID-related symptoms on the day of the course, you must stay at home and contact us to let us know. As a participant in this course, you will be required to follow all COVID safety measures in place by Writing NSW to ensure the health and wellbeing of our community.

If you have questions about this course and/or COVID-safe guidelines, please contact us.


‘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, Year of the Novel 2020

‘I started the course with a scrappy collection of half-written scenes, Emily’s keen insights and generous feedback utterly transformed my manuscript. The course content is a brilliant mix of pragmatic and inspiring writing advice. Emily created a warm and supportive learning environment, which always left me feeling invigorated and motivated to write. I can’t recommend the course highly enough!’ – Fiona Murphy, Year of the Novel 2021

‘It’s been a great course – for the structured guidance & informal advice from Emily as well as the peer support – and I think we managed well doing it online (though sadly my internet is usually intermittent).’ – Lucinda Bell, Year of the Novel 2021

‘After a year with Emily and my brilliant classmates, I struggle to see how anyone could write a novel on their own. My writing has gone from strength to strength, as has my manuscript — and my confidence! I’ve loved every minute. Enormous gratitude for this wonderful course.’ – Jen Severn, Year of the Novel 2021

More from Writing NSW

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