Writer Development Consultations

The Writer Development Consultation service gives writers the opportunity to have their manuscript read and to receive feedback by phone from a Varuna Creative Consultant.

Varuna Consultants help you identify where you are with your work and provide support and advice on moving to the next stage. They focus on you as a writer and help you build the skills you require to create work of an increasingly high level.

Phone consultations are one hour and offered for both partial (up to 15,000 words) and full manuscripts (up to 70,000 words).

Who should apply

Writers of fiction, narrative non-fiction, essays and poetry looking for assistance with developing their project.

What to submit

To make a booking for a Writer Development Phone Consultation you will need to submit:

  • Up to 15,000 words of a manuscript (if poetry, number of pages to be negotiated) for the Partial Manuscript Reading or a full manuscript (up to 70,000 words) for the Full Manuscript Reading.
  • A short description of yourself as a writer and anything you want to tell us about you and your project (max. 1 page);
  • Your completed Writer Development Consultation booking form.


Your work should be in English, typed in a 12 pt serif font, double spaced and with at least 3cm (1 inch) margins on left and right.

You should include on the upper right hand corner of each page: your name / short title / page number


  • Partial Manuscripts (up to 15,000 words or negotiated equivalent of poetry): $295
  • Full Manuscripts (up to 70,000 words): $665
  • Full Manuscripts (70,000 - 90,000 words): $770
  • Full Manuscripts (90,000 - 110,000 words): $880


Lodgement of Applications

You need to send an electronic copy of your completed Writer Development Sessional Consultation form  - excluding payment details - and your manuscript to the Varuna Creative Director (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Please post Writer Development Sessional Consultation form with payment to: Varuna, the National Writers House, P.O. Box 907, Katoomba NSW 2780.

Acknowledgement of Submission

Upon receipt of your application form and material, you will be notified via email by Varuna.

Phone Consultation

A Varuna writing consultant will be assigned to you and you will be able to liaise, via email, to arrange a time for your phone consultation.

Your Feedback

We appreciate your feedback and after your consultation, Varuna invites you to complete a feedback form. A Word version of our Feedback form is downloadable here.


Please note that a second review of a manuscript is not included in the consultation. Revised work can be submitted with the relevant fee.

Manuscripts are not returnable. After the consultation is concluded, Varuna is unable to return manuscripts.


Writer Development Sessional Consultation form available here.

Writer Development Program Feedback form B



"In Aug 2009, I spoke on the phone for an hour to Helen Barnes-Bully about some short-stories I sent to Varuna as part of the Varuna Writer Development conversation. Helen gave me some very clear advice and encouragement that I really needed at that stage.

My stories were largely autobiographical, and last year I wrote a memoir, based in part, on them. The manuscript has gone on to be a finalist in this year’s 2012 Finch Memior Prize and my book 'Under the Skin' by Marion van Dyk (my maiden surname) has been published by Finch on 1st August. The interest the book has generated throughout Australia has been overwhelming and I have already had five radio interviews, two with the ABC on Radio National with Wendy Harmer and Richard Glover on 702."

Marion Grammer, 2012


“Carol’s feedback on my short stories was honest and thoughtful. Using her questions and comments, I rewrote one of the stories, which then won a FAW prize. I think her drawing out of one of the themes really made this story work, and I found the whole experience extremely helpful.”

Claire Aman, 2010


“I felt the discussion with Helen Barnes-Bulley was enormously helpful and was sorry when it came to an end. I felt energized and full of ideas afterwards. I was very impressed by the quality of her insights and suggestions and I would very much appreciate further assistance with my work in the future...”

Nigel Stanley, 2010


"Even though the draft, a portion of which I presented to Carol, had already been culled and edited in a serious fashion twice over, she was able to indicate structure, or lack of, within. She explained that "events happen in emotional time" and gave a wealth of good advice. I knew exactly what she was saying yet, in explaining herself so clearly, she took me beyond what I believed I knew. She said "Don't tell me, take me!"

Martin Raphael, 2010