Novel & Script Writing Course Live - Sydney

Course Overview

Do you dream of writing your novel or screenplay but are overwhelmed by the enormity of the task, especially if you're working full-time?

Even if you don't have a clear idea for a story, this course provides you with a step-by-step process that breaks the writing of your novel or screenplay into manageable bite-sized chunks, enabling you to complete your first draft in 10 months. 

You will develop a deep understanding of the art and craft of storytelling and receive the structure, accountability and support you need to write the best story you are capable of writing.

Roland Fishman, Kathleen Allen & Richard Cornally run the live classes together. They make sure everyone has a great time and leave each session feeling inspired. The course commences every March and September with a maximum of 20 writers per course.

Next Upcoming



8 September 2018


10 Months


Scroll down for Calendar


Bronte Studio


Early Bird to 30 June

$3,695 incl. GST

You will receive the prerequisite 4-Week Unlocking Creativity as a complimentary course if you enrol directly into the 10 Month Novel & Script First Draft program.

You can also do the Novel and Script Writing Course Online working interactively with your personal tutor.

A payment instalment option is available for this course, click the course tile to view and also please read the course Terms & Conditions


Course Details

A Step-By-Step Process

Writing a successful novel or screenplay is all about learning the tools and techniques of the craft, asking the right questions and following a step by step process that shows you what to do and when you need to do it, grounding your story and allowing your creativity to flourish.

It is not necessary to come to class with a clear idea for a story. In fact, 60% of writers who do this course start with a blank canvas. This course asks the right dramatic questions and is designed to help you find and clarify the story you want to write.

During the course, people often ask, "How could anyone write a novel or screenplay without having a process like this?" It is essential that you have a process that allows you to access the power of your imagination while grounding your story in solid structure.

Ninety per cent of novels and screenplays are rejected because of poor structure.

Many people can write great scenes and/or have a strong initial incident that they think will make a great story. But a few good scenes and a dramatic incident doesn't necessarily make for a powerful story.

As Dwight V. Swain says in the Techniques of the Selling Writer, "With skilled handling and the development of point of view and dynamic characters and complications and climax and resolution, the incident may quite possibly build into a story. But a story is a complex thing. Its materials demand skill in their manipulation."

The purpose of structure is to link the action of the story with the character journey so that each scene contributes to the overall character arc and the story builds in a dramatic and logical way, engaging your reader from beginning to end. This is the art and craft of storytelling.

As Robert McKee, who travels the world teaching story structure, says, "There are no unrecognised geniuses. For writers who can tell a quality story, it is a sellers' market, always has been, always will be."

Roland and Kathleen together run the First Draft Live Course. There is nothing like being with a group of like-minded people following a step-by-step process and experiencing the magic of everyone's stories coming alive. The sessions are great fun and our goal is to having everyone walking away feeling energised and inspired.

Saturday Workshops are scheduled one Saturday per month and one full Weekend Intensive and are where most of the planning and structure is nutted out (missed classes can be caught up online). Roland gives you weekly feedback on your developing structure via our interactive forum.

"Well! I feel like I've learnt more in this course that I did in my whole MA in writing at Sydney Uni. Fabulous. Finally someone who really does have the key to practical help for writers. I really loved finally feeling like things were coming out of me, when for so long I've felt like a big dried up prune."
Tiara Lowndes - Editor

Course Outcomes  

During the Course you will:

  • Develop the broad spine of your story using our Ten-Step Outline before you start writing the actual first draft to make sure your story is structurally sound. 

  • Follow a proven step-by-step process that will help you work effectively. The process will make sure your story is building dramatically and logically.

  • Receive guidance, accountability and support from your tutors and like-minded classmates.

  • Develop a regular writing habit - a fundamental ingredient of the writing success.

  • Learn the essential keys to creating powerful drama full of internal and external conflict using our specialised Scene Templates. 

  • Develop a deep understanding of story structure dynamics by using our 8 Turning Points and 29 Story Steps. 

  • Learn the art and craft of storytelling. The goal of the first draft is not to write the perfect story, but to go on a journey to discover the possibility of your story and characters. 

  • Complete your first draft in ten months while taking your main character and yourself on a profound journey of change. A huge achievement.

As Ernest Hemingway said to F. Scott Fitzgerald "The most important thing about a first draft is finishing the damn thing." 

Note 1

You will write the majority of your first draft behind closed doors. You will not need to post scenes for feedback. Roland will give feedback on the dynamics and evolving spine of your story, not on your writing. The  First Draft process is all about finding and expanding the dramatic possibilities of your story. It is not about writing perfect scenes.

Note 2

Writing your first draft is an act of discovery. Creating stories is never a neat or predictable process. It is a creative adventure. You will not write a perfect first draft. When you have finished you will still have work to do. Excellence is a commitment to completion.

Note 3

If you want to write a screenplay, we recommend you write it in narrative form first. Only when you have completed the First Draft and found your story should you attempt to put it into screenplay format. Don't think of it as writing a novel, think of it as writing a detailed treatment. This is the practice of many industry professionals.

Workshop Calendar for September 8, 2018 to June 23, 2019

September 8 - Saturday workshop, 10.00am to 6.00pm at The Writers' Studio

October 6 & 7 - Weekend intensive from 10.00a.m. to 6.00p.m. at The Writers' Studio

Continues on the following Saturdays from 10.00am to 6.00 pm at The Writers' Studio:

November 3, December 8, XMAS BREAK, February 2, March 2, March 30, April 27, May 25, Sunday June 23 (2.30pm to 6.30pm & dinner on us)

All classes available online if you need to miss any workshops. We reserve the right to change class dates if necessary.

Workshop Calendar for March 10, 2018 to November 18, 2018

The Workshop dates for the March 2018 course will be available here Saturday 1 July. 

March 10, 2018 - Saturday workshop, 10.00am to 6.00pm at The Writers' Studio

April 7 & 8 - Weekend Intensive, 10.00am to 6.00pm at The Writers' Studio

Continues on the following Saturdays from 10.00am to 6.00pm at The Writers' Studio:

May 5, June 2, June 30, July 28, August 25, September 22, October 20 and SUNDAY November 18 (2.30pm to 6.30pm then dinner on us)

All classes available online if you need to miss any workshops. We reserve the right to change class dates if necessary.

Workshop Calendar for September 9, 2017 to June 17, 2018

September 9 - Saturday workshop, 10.00am to 6.00pm at The Writers' Studio

October 7 & 8 - Weekend intensive from 10.00a.m. to 6.00p.m. at The Writers' Studio

Continues on the following Saturdays from 10.00am to 6.00 pm at The Writers' Studio:

November 4, December 9, XMAS BREAK, January 27 2018, February 24, March 24, April 21, May 19, Sunday June 17 (2.30pm to 6.30pm & dinner on us)

All classes available online if you need to miss any workshops. We reserve the right to change class dates if necessary.

Important Information - Please read

If you have enrolled for the 10 Month Course and after completing Unlocking Creativity, Roland, Rich & Kathleen feel that you are not ready or suitable for the longer course, we will recommend that you either repeat the UC and go into the next N&S Course or we will provide you with a refund for the N&S course component. Please be aware that this is to do with attitude and temperament. The process of the 10 Month Novel and Script First Draft Course is delicate and requires open-mindedness, sensitivity to others, positivity, humility, passion and patience. Whether you are a complete beginner or have been trying to write a novel for 20 years it doesn't matter. We welcome you all. But when working with a group of writers intimately for 10 months, it is our responsibility to create a safe space for all writers to enable optimum learning to take place.

Testimonials First Draft Live

  • Nigel Bartlett

    I'm extremely grateful to Roland and the couple of years I spent at the Writer's Studio. My time there finally set me on the path I'd wanted to follow for years. It taught me so much about plot and structure and, importantly, it cleared my head of the rubbish I'd previously believed about the mystery of writing and the creative process. The scales fell from my eyes at the Writers' Studio. 'King of The Road' published by Random House, 2015
  • Alex Gilly

    Writers' Studio graduate and former tutor, Alexander Gilly, has signed a two-book deal with Tor/Forge, an imprint of Macmillan Publishers, in New York. This is his first novel, a high-seas action-thriller that Alex developed through our first, second and third draft novel writing courses. 'I'm thrilled,' says Alex. 'By sticking with my story and to the principles I learned at the Writers' Studio, and by getting lucky, I've realised a life-long ambition. Thank you Roland and Kathleen!
  • Nick Lathouris

    "The Writers' Studio is my testing ground, and a place equipped with the finest mental technologies, which unlike the thousands of books on the subject, are designed to nurture the screenwriter through that arduous practice and discipline of animating a story step-by-step, day by day, and refining it so that it represents the best of what you are."
  • L.A. Larkin

    "If it wasn't for Unlocking Creativity and The Writers' Studio First Draft (Novel & Script) Course I wouldn't be where I am today - an author about to be published. Thank you Roland for the inspiration." 

  • Krew Boylan

    ‘Before I did the Unlocking Creativity course I knew I loved to write creatively but had no idea how I might start to channel that into something like a novel. The course teaches the basics of storytelling in a really accessible and inspiring way. Things like the importance of sensory detail in scene setting, writing a character’s emotion and conflict on every page. ‘The techniques really worked for me and I’m still a little bit amazed I was able to write a book and have it published using them. I refer to the notes I took during Unlocking Creativity even
  • Elizabeth Farrelly

    Dear Roland. So excited. I have a publishing offer for my first book of fiction. So what I'm really saying is - thank you!'
  • Rachel Ward

    "A truly practical approach to the secrets of good story telling."
  • Julia Zemiro

    "I am doing a 10-month online writing course with them (The Writers' Studio) and it's challenging, exciting and frustrating. As it should be."
  • Shannon Garner

    Thanks to The Writer's Studio I truly found my love of writing buried within. After completing the 4-Week Unlocking Creativity course and then the 10-month Novel & Script First Draft course, I found the determination to write and submit my memoir 'Labour of Love' which has been published by Simon & Schuster. Thank you Writers’ Studio for triggering my drive and inspiration and my deep adoration for writing.
  • Elizabeth Packett

    I work as professional script writer and editor, so I understand the basics of story structure, but the way the everything was broken down to the smallest of steps was just brilliant. It made me dig for my story, and get in deep, and get complex, rather than settling for the easiest first thought. Forcing me to think deeper and come up with more imaginative solutions. Loved the dance! Such a beautiful perfect balance.”
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