First Draft Novel & Script (Online)

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 over 10 months.  

You will work with your own personal tutor, develop a deep and practical understanding of the art and craft of storytelling that will have your readers wanting to know what happens next while taking your main character on an emotional and spiritual journey of change. 

.The comprehensive online course materials and our exceptional online tutors will provide you with the structure, accountability and support you need to help you create the best story you are capable of writing.

Next Upcoming



29 October 2018 Course


10 Months (plus one month Xmas break)






$2,945 incl. GST


Click on course tile to see payment options

Please Note

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

A payment instalment option is available for this course, click the Enrol tile to view payment options. You then choose your Unlocking Creativity course date when you register.

You can also do the course Live at our Sydney Studio in Bronte >

Course Details

A Step-By-Step Process

Writing a successful novel or screenplay is all about 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 start 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."

"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

Live vs Online

The 10-Month Novel and Script First Draft Course Online contains all the information, processes and outcomes of the Live course. Everything is laid out one step at a time.

Even though this is a 10 month course, you can move at your own pace with your personal online tutor. We have created a schedule to help you manage your time and if you follow it, you should be able to complete the course with one month to spare.

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, inspiration and support from your personal tutor.

  • 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 classic 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. It is essential that you develop a writing habit whereby you are writing an average of five scenes a week. It's not a huge time commitment (roughly 30 minutes to an hour a day four to five times a week). Your tutor will give you feedback on one scene a week and the dynamics and evolving spine of your story, not on all of your writing. It is a very delicate process. To this end, unlike Unlocking Creativity, which is only a 4 week course, you will not be required to read others' work or give feedback to each other. You will be working solely with your online tutor.

Note 2

Like all of our online courses, this course is undertaken by writers from all over the world. Therefore the course materials can only be accessed online via our website and by having a stable internet connection. We do not have or offer a hard copy Course Book for this course. You can however, print out the course materials.

Note 3

Writing your first draft is an act of discovery. The first draft is about finding and expanding the dramatic possibilities of your story, not writing the perfect story. When you are finished you will still have work to do. Excellence is a commitment to completion.

Note 4

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.

If you have enrolled for the 10 Month Course and after completing Unlocking Creativity, your tutor or Roland and Kathleen feel that you are not ready or suitable for the longer course, we will recommend that you either repeat Unlocking Creativity and go into the next Novel & Script course, or we will provide you with a refund for the N&S course only.

Testimonials First Draft Online

  • 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!' Elizabeth published her children's book, Caro Was Here, through Walker Books
  • 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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