Novel-in-Progress Course

lisa-hardingLisa Harding completed an M Phil in creative writing from Trinity College Dublin in 2013. She has had three plays professionally produced in Theatre503 and Battersea Arts Centre, London and Project Arts Centre, Dublin. Her short stories have been published in the Dublin Review, Bath Short Story Anthology and Headstuff. One was a winner in the Doolin short story prize and others were shortlisted in various competitions including Fish, Listowel, Cuirt, Bath Award, RTE Guide/Penguin Ireland, Over The Edge. Her debut novel, Harvesting, was published in April 2017 to critical acclaim. Roddy Doyle wrote of it: ‘ Harvesting is shocking – and shockingly good. It is thought provoking, anger-provoking, guilt-provoking, and most importantly – it’s a brilliantly written novel.’ Harvesting now has a Bafta-winning director attached for a film version and was nominated for the Irish Book Awards 2017. The novel went on to win the Kate O’Brien Award 2018 and was an Irish Times Book Club choice.

Next course starts: 30th January 2019 – THIS COURSE IS NOW CLOSED

Price: €150

Duration: six weeks

Course is strictly limited to 10 participants.

This online novel writing course is designed for those who have already started to write a novel.

You will embark on a six-week journey into your own story – using notes, writing tasks and reading resources to help you open up the world of your novel. You will become intimately familiar with your central characters and their landscapes, both external and internal. We will look at conflict and what constitutes dramatic action and drives plot. By the end of the six weeks, you will have a bird’s eye view of where you are headed, as well as a sense of excitement and possibility about the journey ahead, both for your characters and yourself.

Each writing task will be read by your tutor, Lisa Harding, and you’ll receive weekly written feedback on the exercises.

Week One: Inspiration and ideas. Finding the ‘gold’: the central idea that will propel your novel. We will look at ‘ways in’ and find the most instinctive way to begin for each individual writer. Do you think in terms of setting, character, idea, theme? How much do you like to plot in advance? I will provide prompts on each of these topics and we will see what proves most helpful. You will write a short paragraph on each.

Week Two: Drill down into your central characters. We will look at examples of introducing character in various novels. You will know your own central protagonist intimately at the end of this week: their appearance, gait, history, dreams, central quest. How they rub up against the world. You will become familiar with other characters who want to facilitate their quest, and those who want to block it.

Week Three: Central conflict and dramatic impulse. We will look at our ‘hero’s’ ( or anti-hero’s!) journey. You will write a loose outline for your central character’s journey: where they are now and where they want to be. A series of obstacles will present themselves to your characters. This will form the basis for your plot outline, which will remain fluid and mutable. You need to stay open to surprising yourself along the way.

Week Four: Familiarising yourself with setting. You will be introduced to examples of scene setting that are active and hold a reader’s attention. Setting can be another character in your novel. You must know where your character comes from, how they relate to their environment. Are they a newcomer to this place? Does the landscape they come from in any way shape them? How do they move through it? With ease, familiarity or fear and trepidation?

Week Five: Authentic ‘voice’ and dialogue, choice of language and style. We will look at examples of excellent and distinctive voices in various novels. Which point of view are you choosing? Which tense? Is your novel close narration, or more distant? We will set up scenes where your character has to speak. Listen to their rhythms, energies and allow them freedom to talk on the page.

Week Six: Effective openings, taking the plunge and finding the motivation to reach the finish line. We will read a selection of successful and distinctive openings, and seek to find one that best expresses the tone of your novel. Do you want to excite, seduce, slowly and gently open up the world to the reader, or terrify them from the off? This will be very helpful in determining the genre of the novel you wish to tell, although at this stage you don’t want to lock yourself down too rigidly. The main thing is that you are excited, stirred and inspired to write on…

“I found Lisa’s course extremely beneficial; it’s perfectly targeted to get people thinking in a more focused way about their novel. As a successful novelist, Lisa brings her highly developed writing and editing skills to bear on her students’ work. Her feedback is encouraging, thoughtful and insightful. I had been researching my novel for a year and had 11 copybooks of notes but only started writing properly when I started the assignments on Lisa’s course. I can’t recommend it highly enough.” Linda

“It was a pleasure having Lisa as my online tutor. My writing has come on tremendously after the six weeks. The material each week was fresh and it challenged me to really push myself beyond my boundaries. The examples used were really helpful. Lisa was encouraging, honest and inspiring. Through this course I have now been able to zone in on my strengths and focus completely on my goal for my writing going forward.” Lisa O’Connor

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’ or ‘PayPal’ 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.

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