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. 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 2018, 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 artist Claire G. Coleman and others to be announced, presenting online sessions for the next generation of Australian writers.


Tuesday March 20 | Week 1: Start Me Up: 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?

Tuesday April 3 | Week 2 Just a phrase: Description and style

It’s time to put your paragraphs under the microscope. In Week 2, 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’?

Tuesday April 17 | Week 3: Cult of personality: writing authentic characters with Mirandi Riwoe

For some of us, character-writing comes naturally. For others, it’s one of the trickiest parts of the gig.  This week, acclaimed author of The Fish Girl, Mirandi Riwoe joins us to discuss strategies for writing believable, fleshed-out characters that stay with you long after the story ends.

Join the conversation and livestream this Toolkits Live event.

Tuesday May 1 | Week 4: Hearing voices: Dialogue, point-of-view and perspective

Emerging writers are often told to ‘find their voice’. But what does that actually mean? This week we talk about what it means to craft a convincing narrative voice, and consider perspective in fiction. We’ll also discuss writing authentic dialogue, and ethics in storytelling.

Tuesday May 15 | Week 5: Across the universe:  World-building, setting and identity with Claire G. Coleman

This week, author, essayist and Black&Write Indigenous Writing Fellow Claire G. Coleman joins us to talk about world-building, environment and relationship to place in fiction. How does setting inform a narrative—and its characters? What role does climate and environment have in storytelling? How can we bring a place to life, even it it’s imaginary?

Join the conversation and livestream this Toolkits Live event.

Tuesday May 29 | 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 are now closed. 

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




Jennifer Down is a writer, editor and translator. Her debut novel Our Magic Hour (Text Publishing) was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Award for New Writing and commended in the 2017 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards. She has been published in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, The Saturday Paper, Australian Book Review, The Lifted Brow, Kill Your Darlings, Overland, The Big Issue, Sleepers Almanac, The Stinging Fly and New Mexico’s Blue Mesa Review. Pulse Points, her short story collection, was published by Text in August 2017.​

Claire G. Coleman is a Wirlomin Noongar woman whose ancestral country is in the south coast of Western Australia between Esperance and Albany.  In 2016 she was awarded a Black&Write Indigenous Writing Fellowship for a manuscript she wrote while travelling around the continent now called Australia in an old troop-carrier and a ragged caravan.  Her debut novel Terra Nullius was published in September 2017 with Hachette Australia.  Since then her poetry, short prose, essays and opinion have been published and the novel Terra Nullius has been longlisted for the Stella Prize.

Mirandi Riwoe is a Brisbane-based writer. Her novella The Fish Girl won Seizure’s Viva la Novella V and was recently longlisted for the Stella Prize. Her debut crime novel, She be Damned, was released in 2017. This year she is Peril Magazine’s prose editor. Her work has appeared in Best Australian Stories,Review of Australian FictionRexPeril and Shibboleth and Other Stories, and she has received fellowships from the Queensland Literary Awards and Griffith Review. Mirandi has a PhD in Creative Writing and Literary Studies (QUT).



Toolkits is generously supported by The Copyright Agency Cultural Fund.