Kickstart Your Novel

The course

Develop the narrative momentum you need to get stuck in to a novel.

Have you always wanted to write a novel but you’re not sure where to start? Or maybe you’ve already started writing and you need some help developing it?

This eight-week online course, run by our partners at Faber Academy, will help you explore your novel idea and experiment with different writing techniques. You’ll work in a small, group of writers with an expert tutor to guide you through the process.

During the course, you’ll have regular group Zoom sessions with your tutor, plus a live Q&A with a special guest author, and a one-to-one tutorial at the end of the course to discuss your story idea and synopsis with your tutor.

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

Kickstart Your Novel is an intermediate level course, designed for people who have some writing experience. The course is suitable if you:

  • Have completed the Faber Academy Beginners’ Fiction course or equivalent, or have some previous writing experience
  • Need the discipline of deadlines, together with a carefully structured approach to developing your novel idea
  • Are keen to further develop your writing techniques
  • Want to join a friendly and supportive group of learners
  • Can dedicate 5-7 hours per week for the duration of the course

Each weekly session explores a different topic and includes reading and writing exercises designed to help you develop a range of creative, practical and critical skills in writing a novel.

You’ll explore how novel writers use techniques including character, point of view and tense, story and structure, and work towards producing the first chapter of a novel and synopsis.

In each session, you’ll collaborate with a close-knit team of fellow writers to share ideas and feedback on each other’s work. You’ll also receive detailed feedback on your synopsis from your tutor in a live one-to-one tutorial via Zoom.

Session 1: Ideas and Inspiration – In this opening session, we’ll look at where writers get their ideas and which types of ideas work best in the long form of a novel. There are practical ways to test whether your idea will sustain a full work of fiction, plus exercises to get your fiction juices flowing and help you assess which of your ideas are worth developing.

Live group webinar with the tutor.

Session 2: Character is Plot – We’ll focus on characterisation and those first steps in developing a protagonist your reader will care about, with practical exercises to help you uncover plot from character.

Session 3: Point of View and Tense – In this session we’ll look at two of the most common questions new novel writers ask, and try out first person and  third, present tense and past. We’ll explore the advantages and disadvantages of each, and work out which are right for this particular story.

Live group webinar with the tutor.

Session 4: Story and Structure – We’ll focus on some of the basics of plotting and try out practical techniques novelists use  to stitch together their narratives. We’ll also explore how much – and how little – other novel  writers plan before getting stuck in.

Session 5: Write Your Synopsis – What is a synopsis and why do you need one at this early stage of writing? In this session we’ll  look at the role of the synopsis as a touchstone at different stages in the novel-writing process,  and try out formulas that work.

Live group webinar with the tutor.

Session 6: Your Opening Pages – Why the first line, paragraph and page are so important for the novel writer. We’ll look at how different writers use their opening pages to set out what their novels are about and why the reader should care enough to read on, before you work on your own opening pages.

One-to-one tutorial with the tutor to discuss your story idea, synopsis and next steps.

Session 7: You the Novelist – Two weeks of quiet writing time as you focus on your final assignment: applying the ideas and techniques you have explored through the course to write the opening chapter (or sample) of your novel idea.

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

Commission a report on your work

If you’d like to receive a personalised, detailed report on your final piece of writing from your course tutor, this is available at an extra cost. You’ll receive detailed written feedback assessing your ideas and writing, plus advice on what steps to take next.

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

Susmita Bhattacharya

Susmita Bhattacharya

Short to Long Fiction

Susmita has been a professional writer and teacher since 2005. She has been shortlisted for, and won, numerous prizes and awards. Her work has been commissioned by magazines, as well as for BBC Radio 4. She currently lectures in Contemporary Fiction on the Masters Programme at Winchester University.

More about Susmita Bhattacharya

Paula Winzar


More courses

Looking for something different?

With Faber Academy

Writing a Novel

Get the first 15,000 words of your novel under your belt.