Learn about story structure, character, setting and everything in between.

Express Media presents Toolkits: Fiction, a step-by-step online program combining theoretical approaches, practical exercises, group workshopping, and one-on-one mentorship to guide young writers through the development of new works of fiction.

Over a 12-week intensive, participants will explore storytelling and ethics, learn how to craft characters, plots and plans and how to polish work for publication. With live broadcasts each fortnight and feedback weeks in between, Toolkits is first and foremost a practical initiative and young writers will be encouraged to write, workshop and edit their writing throughout the course.

In 2019, Toolkits: Fiction will be facilitated by Sydney Morning Herald Young Novelist of the Year, Jennifer Down, author of Our Magic Hour and Pulse Points. Jennifer will facilitate the online sessions and workshops, providing one-on-one mentorship and individualised feedback to each writer.

Participants will also have the chance to learn from some of the best working writers in the country, with guest artists Jamie Marina Lau and Alison Evans presenting online sessions for the next generation of Australian writers.

Thursday 18th April | Week 1 | Off on the right foot: Beginnings (and beyond)
This week, we look at structure in fiction, starting from the top. What makes a successful beginning to a novel or story? Where do ideas come from? How does research work if you’re writing fiction? What do we mean when we talk about the writing process—and how do you work out what yours is?

Thursday 2nd May | Week 2 | People of substance: Writing authentic characters
For some of us, character-writing comes naturally. For others, it’s one of the trickiest parts of the gig. But no matter whether you’re writing an epic historical fiction saga, post-apocalyptic YA, or Carmen Maria Machado-style spec fic, the people in your stories need to be believable and fleshed-out. In this session, we’ll talk about writing characters who stay with your reader long after the story ends.

Thursday 16th May | Week 3 | The good place: World-building, setting and atmosphere with Jamie Marina Lau

In Week 3, author Jamie Marina Lau joins us to talk about world-building, environment and relationship to place in fiction. How does setting inform a narrative—and its characters? How can we bring a place to life, even if it’s imaginary?

Join the conversation and livestream this Toolkits Live event.

Thursday 30th May | Week 4 | Description, imagery, style

It’s time to put your paragraphs under the microscope. In Week 4, we get to the nitty-gritty of sentences. What makes good (and bad) descriptive writing? What do we mean when we talk about ‘tone’ and ‘style’?

Thursday 13th June | Week 5 | The voice of reason: Dialogue, point-of-view and perspective with Alison Evans

Emerging writers are often told to ‘find their voice’. But what does that actually mean? This week, queer YA author Alison Evans joins us to talk about what it means to craft a convincing narrative voice, and write authentic dialogue.

Join the conversation and livestream this Toolkits Live event.

Thursday 27th June | Week 6 | Polishing, editing and submitting your work

The final week of Toolkits will prepare participants to polish their own writing and ready it for submission—and beyond.

Now you’ve drafted your masterpiece, how can you polish it to make it the best it can be? Where should you send it? What are some pro-tips for submitting? How much What’s it like to be edited? We’ll hash out these questions and plenty more.

Applications to Toolkits are free for Express Media members. If you’re not already a member, you can sign up here.

Express Media is committed to access, so if you would like to sign up and are experiencing financial hardship, please contact us via to be awarded one of our sponsored memberships.

The only other things you’ll need are motivation and internet connection, so don’t miss out on this exciting opportunity to refine your craft and be mentored by some of Australia’s best literary talent.

Applications have now closed.

Have a question? Need help with your application? Send an email to Express Media’s Creative Producer at

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Jamie Marina Lau is a writer and artist. Her debut novel, Pink Mountain on Locust Island was published by Brow Books in April 2018. She is currently working on more writing, her next novel and on music.

Jennifer Down is a writer, editor and translator. She was named a Sydney Morning Herald Young Novelist of the Year consecutively in 2017 and 2018 for her debut novel, Our Magic Hour, and her short story collection, Pulse Points. Pulse Points received the 2018 Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction, and the Queensland Literary Award – Steel Rudd Prize for Short Fiction. She lives in Melbourne.

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Alison Evans is the author of the queer YA books Ida and Highway Bodies and is a contributor of the upcoming anthology Kindred: 12 Queer #loveozya Stories. They are based in Melbourne.

Toolkits: Fiction is generously supported by The Copyright Agency Cultural Fund.

Toolkits: Live is presented by Express Media in partnership with Regional Arts Victoria as part of the Arts Connect Series funded by the Federal Government’s Regional Arts Fund.