Begin Your Novel Course

Maria Hoey has an honours BA Degree from Dublin City University. Her short stories and articles have been widely published and in 2014, her short story, Reading Brother Boniface, was shortlisted for the Michael McLaverty Short Story Award. She has also had poetry published in Ireland’s foremost poetry publication, Poetry Ireland. Her debut novel, THE LAST LOST GIRL, was published in July 2016 and has gone on to be shortlisted for the Kate O’Brien Debut Award 2018 and the Annie McHale Debut Award 2018. It was described by RTE Guide as ‘A haunting, mesmerising first novel with a chilling secret at its core. It will grip and surprise you to the very last page.” Her second novel, ON BONE BRIDGE, is due for publication in July 2018 and she is currently working on her third novel.

Next course starts: 25th September 2019

Price: €150

Duration: six weeks

Course is strictly limited to 12 participants.

This online Begin your Novel writing course, is designed for those who have an idea for a novel, or who have started to write one, and are in need of inspiration and guidance. The course runs for six weeks and, using weekly writing assignments, notes and reading resources will help you develop your idea, your characters, themes and plot. Think of it in terms of a six-week journey – not just for you as a writer, but for the characters you will create.

Each writing assignment (which will be accompanied by notes) will be read by your tutor, Maria Hoey, and you will receive weekly written feedback.

Week one: Getting started. So, you have an idea for a novel. Perhaps you have already fleshed it out, or perhaps it is still just a kernel, a nugget.  In either case, you will look at your idea more closely and find ways to develop it more fully. For each writer, the path into a story will be different. It may be driven by a strong central character or by an overarching theme. We will seek to identify the best way to open your particular story and take a look at some examples of compelling beginnings.

Week TwoCrafting characters and knowing your characters. Who is your central character?  What do they look like? What drives them? What are their strengths? What are their flaws? Do you like them? Do they like themselves? What do they fear most? How will they grow or change in the course of your novel? To what extent will they determine the plot of your novel?

Week Three: Constructing your plot. Where do you plan to take your reader and how do you intend to get them there? You will write an overview of how you envisage your plot developing. You will take into account the importance of pacing i.e. ensuring the story moves along at a good speed, thus ensuring you hold the attention of your reader. We will look at the need for tension and excitement whilst making the plot believable.

Week Four: Voice/narrative structure/dialogue/narrative perspective and point of view. Who is telling your story? Is it one voice or many? What is their standpoint? What kind of narration will you employ – first person, third person, omniscient? Which tense will they use? You will seek to answer all of these questions in a way that works best for your novel.

Week Five: Build your Scaffold. Basically this means sketching out a rough draft (very rough!) or framework. The idea is to get this down on paper fast, working through from start to finish so that you will begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.   

Week Six: Drive your story forward. Now you know where you are going it is time to begin fleshing out your first draft.  This means working out a detailed plan chapter by chapter and this week you will get started on this process and see your novel really begin to take shape.

“I just wanted to send you some feedback on the recent Novel Writing Course I did with Maria Hoey. I thought it was brilliant! I got so much more out of it than I expected.  Maria’s guidance and teaching was invaluable. Not only that but she gave me confidence to keep at the writing. Thanks for providing such an excellent course.” Caroline

“One of the bonuses of this course has been Maria’s communication with us…she makes it very personal. With writing being such a private occupation, this element has been so important and welcome. I have been encouraged, stimulated and reassured into a positive frame of mind.” Mary

To find out more about how the online courses work, or if you have any further queries, you can check out our Frequently Asked Questions or email us at

Our cancellation/refund policy may be viewed here.

PAYMENT/REGISTRATION: Please note that we do not require you to fill out a registration form. Instead, please click on the ‘Check Out Securely’ button below. During the payment process you can input your name and email address which we will use to register you on the course. If you’d prefer to use another email address for the course correspondence or if you’re paying on behalf of another student, when you have processed the payment, please send the relevant email address and name for the course correspondence to Once you have processed the payment, we will email you within 24 hours to confirm receipt.


BANK TRANSFER/LODGEMENT: if you don’t have a card to pay for the course, you can pay through bank transfer or bank lodgement. Please email us at for our bank details.

POST: We no longer accept cash, cheque or money order payments by post.