Writing A Novel: The First 15,000

Advanced | Fiction

Start and stress-test your novel on this demanding eight-month course for committed writers. If you’re thinking about a creative writing MA, consider this practical online alternative.

The application deadline for this iteration of the course is midnight on Sunday 24 May.

This course is selective, so you`ll need to apply. For more information, click here.

The application deadline was
25th May 2020

Study wherever you are in the world at a time that suits you, joining a small and supportive group of fellow writers in our unique online classroom

Benefit from fortnightly deadlines, expert tutor guidance and regular peer feedback

Join monthly live guest chats with authors, agents and publishing professionals

Ask for technical support day and night or talk to our pastoral care moderator during writing wobbles

Enjoy one-to-one tutor feedback on your developing work at key points on the learning journey via Skype and web chats

Hone your editorial brain as you learn how to read like a writer and give incisive feedback to your fellow novelists

Learn from a detailed editorial report on your first 15,000 words at the end of the course

Submit your work to our online anthology, sent out to more than a hundred literary agents

Join our thriving alumni community to continue working with your tight-knit group of beta-readers after your course ends

‘I took a rough plot outline to the Faber Academy Writing a Novel online course with the brilliant Tom Bromley. By the end of the course I had learnt so much and managed to complete a rough first draft. Joanna Cannon, bestselling author and fellow Faber Academy online alumna, tweeted about the Richard & Judy competition and I immediately applied. Being runner-up and getting a two-book deal with Bonnier Zaffre meant the world to me.’
Asia Mackay, author of
Killing It

Applying for Writing A Novel online

All applications are assessed by the online tutor team. Applying is easy: simply click on the 'Apply Now' button above to start. You will need to create an account with us, then upload the following documents:

- An example of your prose (approximately 1,000 words of fiction). This doesn't have to be from your proposed novel, but it’s useful if it represents your voice and genre.
- A brief outline of your idea for a novel (250-750 words) – include details about character, setting and events, and a working title if you have one.
- A book recommendation: which novel would you recommend to another writer, and why? (Up to 200 words)
- A cover note detailing your writing experience, whether you have done any sort of writing course before, what you hope to gain from the course and why you want to do it now.

Two free places per year are available on this course via the Faber Academy Scholarship scheme. The aim of the scholarship is to support writers whose work shows significant promise, who write about the world as it really exists, but who would for financial reasons be unable to enrol on the course. For more information about the scheme and details on how to apply, click here.

3rd June 2020 - 16th December 2020

Availability: In stock

7 Places

The course consists of thirteen sessions, which you work through progressively in our online classroom with a small group of peers, your tutor and a moderator. There’s no need to log on at a certain time each week – as long as you complete the set assignments and peer feedback by the end of each fortnightly session you can work at any time of the day or night that suits you.

You’ll need to commit to at least 5–7 hours’ study each week in order to complete the practical tasks and progress your novel, and to read and feedback on your peers’ novels as they develop.

Session 1 (Wednesday 3 June): Introductions
Meet your fellow writers, think about how, where and why you write, and begin the process of reading like a writer.

Session 2: Beginnings
Start stress-testing your idea and think about the importance of a novel's opening pages.

Session 3: Character
Why do we love some characters, and why should we care about your protagonist? We’ll look at how you reveal your characters and ways to intersect with plot to fuel your novel.

Session 4: Voice
What is your writing voice and how will you explore it in this novel?

Session 5: Viewpoint
Are you telling this story from the best point of view? We’ll experiment with viewpoint rules and when to break them while creating a tailored reading list to inform your novel.

Session 6: Structure
We'll look at internal and external plots, having something to aim for, and the overall shape of your story.

Session 7: Dialogue
The secrets to writing good dialogue and using non-verbal detail in your novel. We’ll look at how you differentiate your characters through speech.

Session 8: Description
How do you capture a world that draws your reader in? You’ll explore elements of description that bring scenes to life, and ways to speed up and slow down your story.

Session 9: Research
Using research to bring authenticity to your novel – and the dangers of too much research. You’ll plan interviews to inform your characters and story.

Session 10: Structuring a Scene
How to get in and out of a scene and place plot points effectively. We’ll look at pace and its effect on your story.

Session 11: Foreshadowing
How much information will you reveal at the start of your novel? We'll question this and look at ways to set up later scenes early on.

Session 12: The Publishing Process
The industry and your novel in the marketplace. We'll look at agents, what it takes to get your full manuscript requested, and ways to turn a ‘no’ into a ‘yes’.

Session 13: Writing Time (four weeks)
Private time to revise your novel so far and/or add up to 5,000 extra words in preparation for submitting the first 15,000 words to the tutor for final feedback. The forums are open for discussion and peer support.

At key points during the course you will benefit from one-to-one tutor discussion, Skype tutorials, peer feedback, web chats, Q&As and written or audio notes – this is formulated to give you just the guidance you need to craft the best possible start to your novel.

At the end of the course you will receive a detailed one-to-one written feedback report considering your story idea, voice, prose style, research, suitability for market and suggested steps to completion. You will have the option to continue working with your peer group in an Alumni classroom.

Click here for more information +


Tom Bromley is an author, editor and ghostwriter. He has written ten books under his own name, both fiction and non-fiction, ghosted a further doze...


Rowan Hisayo Buchanan is the author of Harmless Like You – the winner of The Authors’ Club First Novel Award and a Betty Trask Award. It ...

Okay so this course has some powerful magic hidden inside it. I casually listened to the tutor’s podcast feedback on my work and the next thing my entire plot has been redefined.
  • Julie
I have never written so much material as I have done during this course.
  • Carina

"There's no point staring at a blank page waiting for inspiration to strike - to get your creative muscles working you need to start writing, reviewing and sharing your work."

Helen Shipman