Centre for Continuing Education

Writing the Novel Course: A Masterclass

Creative Writing. Express yourself with the written word.

Develop your creative style the smart way with Creative Writing courses at the University of Sydney.

A course for writers who are looking to extend their skills in the Novel form. It is ideal for people expanding on their novel and who have completed Writing the Novel: Getting Started. This course is designed to heighten and refine the skills learnt in the earlier course and to further examine process and sub-text. It will focus on deep structure. It will also provide tools to continue the impetus of the novel. The course will be focused on the continuing novel of the student through workshopping, personal guidance and editing.

The course is only open to students who have completed the Writing the Novel: Getting Started or students who receive special dispensation from the lecturer.

Are you willing to continue the long apprenticeship of the novel?

Course Content

Workshop 1:

  • Writing Exercise 1: Memory and Experience
  • Raymond Carver – "Detail, Succession and Resonance in So Much Water So Close to Home"

Workshop 2:

All novelists' make choices – William Stafford Travelling Through the Dark
The Weight of One Sentence – Wallace Stevens' The Snow Man

Workshop 3:

  • Student Workshops
  • Fiction Is Its Own World: Flannery O’Connor and Heidegger’s Dasein

Workshop 4:

  • Student Workshops
  • An introduction to Joyce
  • Intimacy: Louise Erdrich and the Thin Blue Line between Memoir and Fiction.

Workshop 5:

  • Student Workshops
  • An introduction to Kafka

Workshop 6:

  • Student Workshops
  • Class External Exercise – Being in Character as a Novelist


The aim of the workshops is to move writing students towards the refinement of a true and original writing voice, to assist with self-editing and to encourage students toward publication. The student should also be well-equipped to analyse their own and other’s fiction/writing with a critical eye and using critical terms and be confident in discussing any text from the view of writing processes, sentence construction, connotation, deep imagery, structure and characterisation. The student should also be confident in continuing, and be aware of, the life of a writer.

All workshops will cover skills relevant to the writer at hand and the class as a whole. The workshops will also provide advice on publication, process and further reading.

Before the course

Special dispensation will be granted upon the lecturer reading a submission of prose or folio of prose. Maximum of ten pages. For more information contact us on 02 8999 9608.

Recommended Reading

This reading list is a recommendation but not a strict requirement for the course. The tutor will supply a course reader.

  • The Writing Life by Annie Dillard
  • Lectures on Literature & Lectures on Russian Literature by Vladimir Nabokov
  • The Art of Fiction & On Becoming a Novelist by John Gardner
  • The Gutenberg Elegies by Sven Birkerts
  • Paris Review: Writers at Work – any of the Paris Review series
  • Negotiating with the Dead by Margaret Atwood
  • Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
  • Mystery & Manners by Flannery O’Connor
  • How Fiction Works James Wood


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Small class sizes
  • Free, expert advice
  • Student materials – yours to keep
  • Statement of completion

What others say.

  • A brilliant teacher who follows up on everything inside and outside class time. A remarkable talent.

  • The course was ideal. A marvellous blend of theory and practical ways of applying that theory to the writing process.

  • I believe that I’ve gained so much from doing this course. The tutor was extremely hardworking and professional and gave 110% - going over the work carefully and offering positive and constructive advice that has made me a better writer. I have been a teacher for nearly 20 years now and I believe that the harshest critics of teachers are other teachers, and I couldn’t find anything to criticise about the tutor or the course if I tried.

What others say.

  • A brilliant teacher who follows up on everything inside and outside class time. A remarkable talent.