Finish Your Draft

The course

Find the focus to move your novel forward.

Have you started a novel but are struggling to reach the end? Or maybe you have a first draft and need help with giving it the final polish it needs?

This 10-month online course, run by our partners at Faber Academy, will help you hone your writing skills and find the discipline to complete your draft. You’ll work in a small group of writers and will receive constructive feedback on your writing, as you work towards finishing your book.

In partnership with Faber Academy

Expert guidance from first line to final draft, at the home of one of Britain’s great publishers. We work in partnership with Faber Academy to offer a range of courses for fiction writers at all stages of development – choose from key skills short courses through to advanced novel writing courses.

How it works

We give you the theory in the form of videos, podcasts, written lectures and reading extracts. In the case of our live workshops, this includes a live online seminar.

You put it into practice by completing the writing assignments.

You share your work with the small group of fellow writers and the teaching team.

Your tutor and fellow learners read your work and give professional-style feedback on your submission. Giving feedback notes helps to build your skills as an editor - a critical part of the writing process.

You reflect on the exercises with the group and share what you’ve learned.

You use what you learned from the feedback and discussions to review your work and improve it.

Things to know

Finish Your Draft is an advanced course, designed for people who have at least 15,000 words of a novel and want to get to the end, or have a first draft that needs the right environment to become a second. The course is suitable if you:

  • Have completed the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course or equivalent, or have written the first 15,000 words of your novel
  • Need the discipline of deadlines, together with a carefully structured approach to finishing your novel
  • Are keen to further develop your writing techniques
  • Would like to broaden your knowledge of topics including research, the publishing industry and approaching agents
  • Want to join a friendly and supportive group of learners
  • Can dedicate 5-7 hours per week for the duration of the course

Each monthly session explores a different topic and includes reading and writing exercises designed to help you broaden your knowledge and hone your skills. You’ll write 5-7,500 new or revised words a month, which you’ll share with your group and discuss during a monthly webinar with your tutor, together with reading each other’s novels in progress and giving – and receiving – detailed and constructive written feedback.

You’ll receive at least three detailed tutor reports on your work in progress over the year, plus three one-to-one Zoom tutorials with your tutor. You’ll also have a monthly book club, with novels chosen by your tutor to match each session’s topic. The novels cover many genres and are designed to show you how different novelists approach their writing and help you to read, analyse and discuss them from the perspective of a writer.

The course has been designed to follow a set monthly program, with deadlines to keep you focused and spur you on. A typical session includes:

  • Day 1: Session opens Your tutor introduces the month’s topic and the recommended reading and writing exercises, including the novel you’ll read for your book club.
  • Days 2–20: Writing your novel You’ll be hard at work on your novel, but will keep in touch with your group on the online forums and chatroom.
  • Day 21: Deadline You’ll share the latest 5–7,500 words of your novel with your group, by posting it to the online forum.
  • Days 21–26: Giving and receiving feedback You’ll read and critique your fellow writers’ latest work and receive constructive feedback on your novel in progress in return.
  • Days 23–26: Individual tutor discussions Each month, your tutor will read and give feedback on at least three people’s work. You’ll also each get three one-to-one Zoom tutorials over the duration of the course.
  • Day 27: Group discussion guided by your tutor Your group will join your tutor for a webinar discussion where they’ll sum up what you’ve covered in the session, answer your questions and introduce the next month’s topic.

Session 1: Share Your Story – You’ll meet the writers in your group and get to know each other’s stories so far. You’ll also look at the art of giving good critical feedback and will have your first one-to-one Zoom call with your tutor.

Session 2: Get Better at Place – You’ll explore the four secrets to sharpening up description in your novel: making it more specific, using the senses, and adding colour and movement.

Session 3: Get Better at Body Language – A look at the importance of non-verbal communication in your novel, and how to write better body language so that your characters do more than raise their eyebrows, nod and smile.

Session 4: Tune Up Your Voice – What are the effects of language and rhythm on the writing in your novel? You’ll look at vocabulary, sentence and paragraph structure, and how this can be used for effect and to help you change pace.

Session 5: Get Better at Texture – We’ll look at the contrast between dialogue and description, and how they can be used to slow down or speed things up. You’ll have your second one-to-one Zoom call with your tutor, to take stock of your progress so far.

Session 6: Find Your Midpoint – You’ve got a great beginning for your novel, and you’ve got a great end. But how do you avoid the middle of your book sagging, like a badly made cake? We’ll focus on that in this session.

Session 7: Shape Your Chapters – What is the ideal length of a chapter? What is the effect of making chapters shorter or longer? What are the benefits of dividing the material up into wider sections?

Session 8: Keep Readers Turning the Page – How do you grab a reader at the start of the chapter? Should you leave things on a cliffhanger at the end, or will you work with suspense in more subtle ways?

Session 9: Finding a Satisfying Resolution – What’s the best way to conclude a story? How much resolution satisfies the reader?

Session 10: Move Beyond Your Manuscript – Once you’ve got your final manuscript, what next? We’ll take a look at the experiences of various writers as they made the jump from writing their novel to getting published, and take advice from an agent, publisher and self-published author. This session will also include a final one-to-one Zoom chat with your tutor.

Join the Faber Academy alumni

After your course, you can join the online alumni where you’ll meet the growing network of past Faber Academy students. The alumni is a friendly group of writers who support each other as they continue to explore and develop their writing.

Within the online alumni area you can:

  • Rejoin your classmates on a private forum and access an archived version of your course materials and forum posts
  • Meet alumni from other Faber Academy courses and groups and share your work for feedback on our alumni critiquing forum
  • Join in on discussions about reading, writing, editing and ideas on our general discussion forum. This is also where we share news and useful info
  • Retain access to our resources area, which has interesting and informative links
  • Chat with other people online using the alumni area live chatroom. We also host live chats with guest tutors, authors, agents, editors and publishers
  • Contribute to an anthology of student work sent out to literary agents (Novel and Finish Your Draft courses only)

Taking things further

If you’d like to continue on to another Faber Academy course, you’ll receive a discount. Please get in touch for more details.

The team

Meet your course team

Lee Weatherly

Lee Weatherly

YA World Maker

Lee Weatherly (L.A. Weatherly) has written more than 50 books for children and young adults, including the bestselling Angel series, and is published in 20 different languages. She’s passionate about guiding new writing talent and has worked as a mentor across many projects.

More about Lee Weatherly

Kylie Fitzpatrick

Novel Sculptor

Danielle Charles


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