Writer Toolkit

Take modules on craft, industry and life as a writer. Whether you’re starting out, mid-career or established, our NZSA Writer Toolkit has something for everyone. Available to do in your own time, on your phone, tablet, iPad or computer.

Writer Toolkit – what is it?

The Writer Toolkit is our professional development offering, with multiple modules released. Our Toolkit is an online learning platform that offers writers a wide range of modules on writing and the writing life by our leading authors and industry professionals. All sessions comprise of static content you can work through alone, or with your writing group or regional hub meeting. Each module contains notes, exercises, and suggestions for further reading on the topics.


Pricing options for each NZSA Writer Toolkit module, starts at $20 for NZSA members – with discount options for CSC holders, and pricing for NZSA member writing groups, non-members, and non-member writing groups also.

All NZSA Members are entitled to access one Writer Toolkit module per renewal. Find out how to claim yours

Writer Toolkit site

Writer Toolkit modules available now

Creative Rights for Creative People

A Guide to Copyright in Aotearoa New Zealand

Headshot of Karen Workman

Curious about copyright? One of the challenges we creative people face is that common knowledge of copyright is sometimes at variance with the actual law, leading to misunderstandings, infringements and confusion. Let’s talk about knowing and protecting our rights, why they exist and the cultural and financial value of our work and rights. We’ll also discuss users’ privileges, and understand how to determine infringement. In this engaging session, supported by Manatū Taonga Ministry of Culture and Heritage, and presented by Copyright Licensing New Zealand (CLNZ), Karen Workman will be giving us an overview of our rights as creators, building our basic understanding of Copyright and guiding stronger business practices. Let’s demystify the Copyright Act, and learn how to “do the right thing” as we sharpen our business acumen and build a stronger creative platform.

Creative Rights for Creative People is brought to you by Copyright Licensing New Zealand and the New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi o Aotearoa PEN Inc.

Karen Workman Born in Taupō, Karen has been around the world and back again, with a hand in the creative arts at every turn. Karen has played with orchestras and accompanied soloists around the world, and speaks regularly at various talent showcases in the USA. She has spearheaded the development of curriculum for film programmes for high school students, and training for film apprenticeships, self-published a limited edition book to guide parents of aspiring young actors, and values the time spent as a mentor to people from a wide variety of creative disciplines. She gained her B.C.A. in Marketing and Management and her B Mus (Hons) in Piano from Victoria University of Wellington, Masters and Doctorate of Musical Arts in Piano performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music, Ohio, USA, is a Certified Life Coach (CPLC) and has her unofficial certificate from the life of hard knocks by working with industry professionals, actors and parents of child actors in Hollywood for 10 years. Karen is passionate about sharing information and supporting creative people in their endeavors and career development, and with the majority of her family working in the arts, what’s happening in the creative world is a frequent dinner table subject. When not researching, reading, learning and teaching (who are we kidding – that’s all the time!) Karen enjoys travel, chasing events at theatres, films, street art, concerts, galleries, and bookstores, meeting new friends and having interesting conversations over a chai latte.

Enrol / find out more about this module

Every Word Counts – Advanced Editing with Anna Mackenzie

Practical Suggestions for How to Scrutinise Your Own Work

This module, taught by award-winning writer and editor Anna Mackenzie, focuses on the line edit, providing practical suggestions for how you might scrutinise your work with the goal of ensuring your writing is clear and concise, maintains the reader’s attention, and offers no jarring notes.

Relevant to fiction and nonfiction, longform and short, the information and approaches covered in this session will be helpful to writers at all levels.

If you are interested in learning the basics of editing, you may want to take Anna’s other Writer Toolkit module, Introduction to Editing

Anna Mackenzie writes fiction and non-fiction across a range of markets. Her nine novels, which include The Sea-wreck Stranger, Evie’s War, High Tide and Cattra’s Legacy, have earned her an NZ Post Honour Award, seven CLA Notable Book Awards, Sir Julius Vogel Award and White Raven (Germany). She teaches creative writing at Massey University, in schools and in the community, and has supported many new and established authors in developing their work and careers through manuscript assessments, mentoring and editing workshops. She spent seven years on the Board of NZSA working to protect the rights of authors, and remains committed to enhancing a vibrant national arts sector where creative work is respected and rewarded.

Tips for Presenting in Schools with Mohamed Hassan

Learn Practical Tips for Speaking to Children and Young People in School Settings (this is a free course)

In this module, award-winning writer and poet Mohamed Hassan shares his top tips for effective talks, workshops and presentations to children and young people.

This module aimed at writers who are new to school talks or to Writers in Schools but there will be useful tips for all writers, whatever your level of experience.

Tips for Presenting in Schools is part of the Writers in Schools Series is brought to you by Read NZ Te Pou Muramura and the New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi o Aotearoa PEN Inc.

Read NZ Te Pou Muramura’s Writers in Schools programme has been inspiring tamariki to read and write for 50 years. As well as one-off classroom visits driven by school demand, the programme provides a range of options for participation in creative writing workshops, literary tours, public events, book festivals and more.

Mohamed Hassan is an award-winning poet, journalist, podcaster and producer from Auckland and Cairo. His latest book is How To Be A Bad Muslim and Other Essays, published by Penguin Books New Zealand. Described as funny, elegiac and chilling, in this collection Hassan blends storytelling, memoir and non-fiction to map the experience of being Muslim in the 21st century. Hassan’s poems have been shared widely online and are taught in hundreds of schools internationally. He has toured his work across New Zealand, Australia, the US and UK, at TEDx and at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, and he represented NZ at the Individual World Poetry Slam in 2016. As a journalist, Mohamed covered ethnic affairs for RNZ, investigating counterterrorism, workplace discrimination and Islamophobia. In 2017 he was awarded the Gold Trophy at the New York Radio Awards for his podcast series Public Enemy on the impacts of social and security policies on Muslim communities in New Zealand, Australia and the United States.

Formatting Your Manuscript for Publication with Steff Green

Learn How to Get Your Completed Manuscript Ready to Publish as an Ebook or Print Book


USA Today bestselling indie author Steff Green guides you through the process of formatting your manuscript so that it is ready to be published as an ebook or print book. This module is geared towards writers who have a completed manuscript and does not provide tips on editing, proofreading or other associated elements.

Please note that Steff demonstrates how to prepare your completed manuscript on Vellum and Google Docs but her suggestions will be useful for other word processing and formatting platforms as well. Vellum is currently only available for Mac users. Other options for PC users are mentioned in the resources section at the end of this unit.

Steff Green is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of the paranormal, gothic, dark, and fantastical. She lives in New Zealand with her cantankerous drummer husband, a horde of cats, and their medieval sword collection. www.steffanieholmes.com

NEW! How to Load an Ebook or Print Book on Amazon KDP with Steff Green

Once you have formatted your manuscript, you may want to take Steff’s other practical, step-by-step module on How to Load an Ebook or Print Book on Amazon KDP.Steff Green is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of the paranormal, gothic, dark, and fantastical. She lives in New Zealand with her cantankerous drummer husband, a horde of cats, and their medieval sword collection. www.steffanieholmes.com

Writing Poetry with the Eye and the Ear with Siobhan Harvey

Dive into the craft of poetry

In this short module, award-winning writer Siobhan Harvey will introduce you to the essentials of writing poetry. Offering an approach which will encourage you to use your eyes, ears and senses, you’ll be immersed in a variety of poetry crafting concepts, including cadence, aesthetics and structure. This is a module for writers new to poetry as much as for the experienced poet keen to refresh or re-engage their craft.
In this session you will learn about:
  • Alliteration and assonance
  • Line lengths and line breaks
  • Word choice and
  • Number patterning.

You will have also drafted and edited a poem based on your learnings.

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Research for Fiction with Whiti Hereaka

Is the thought of research for your next project daunting? Where do you start in a world full of information?

In this short module, award-winning writer Whiti Hereaka will break down her method of research and guide you through strategies to manage and utilise yo information when writing a novel.

By the end of this module, you will have the tools to enable you to research and manage your information efficiently, and an approach that uses exposition to open your story rather than shutting it down.

  • Sources of information
  • Information management
  • How to focus your research
  • How to utilise your information in your project
  • Using exposition to develop your story and characters.
Enrol / find out more about this module


Develop your Web Presence with Jack Cottrell

Get advice, ideas and strategies to get started with your online presence

Boosting your professional profile on the internet can be tough, and it’s often hard to know where to start. Jack Remiel Cottrell goes through the first steps, including how to decide where you want to be, what you want to use, and how to begin connecting with readers, publishers, and other writers.

By the end of this module, you will have the tools to begin to develop your web presence.

  • What is a web presence?
  • How to build it to reach readers, editors, agents, and other authors.
  • Different platforms: pluses and minuses
  • What’s right for you
  • Who do you want to be online
  • Tips for what to post and when

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Finding your ‘I’: The key to the story with Pip Desmond

Find your voice in creative non-fiction

Writing in the first-person ‘I’ voice is common in creative non-fiction, not only in memoir but when writers tackle wider subjects too. At first glance it seems relatively easy to tell a story from our own point of view. There’s no one we know better than ourselves. The facts are already established. Surely all we have to do is arrange them in a logical order and add a few thoughts.

But when we sit down to write, we discover it’s not that simple. Every story requires a unique ‘I’, and finding that ‘I’ is the key to unIocking the story. If we know who is speaking, we will be clear about why we are speaking and what we have come to say.

In this session you will learn about:

  • why every first-person story requires a unique ‘I’ to tell it
  • how the ‘I’ transforms the raw material of a situation into the emotional essence of the story
  • essential characteristics of the ‘I’ voice
  • ethical considerations that will strengthen our voice
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Writing Fiction from Life with Rajorshi Chakraborti

Bring the treasures and mysteries of real life into your fiction

As writers of fiction, no matter how great a role our imaginations play in our storytelling, we’re almost always drawing on the real at the same time, in ways big and small, aware and unseen.

But what would a greater alertness to this constant interplay bring to our storytelling, if our everyday self and our writing self tried consciously to stay in closer touch, as we live our lives and plan new work, and feel, recall, imagine, notice and connect things in both spheres at the same time?

This is an hour-long module comprising four talks followed by suggested exercises, aimed primarily at beginning fiction-writers or those looking to go further in drawing on their lived experiences for their stories.

In this session you will learn about:

  • writing fiction from life
  • drawing on ourselves
  • drawing on others and
  • drawing on the flow of life.
Enrol / find out more about this module

Writing Action – the emotional and dramatic moment – with Paula Morris

Create compelling action with Paula Morris

In fiction, scenes are shaped by consciousness (the emotional moment) and action (the dramatic moment). Sometimes, in drafts of novels and stories, we can lose sight of one or the other. This module offers close reading of excerpts from published work to explore how to build and sustain rich, vivid scenes.

Module content
  • Identify what creates rich, vivid scenes.
  • Identify how POV affects description.

By the end of this module, you will understand how to build and sustain rich, vivid scenes in your work of fiction.

Enrol / find out more about this module

Learn How to Successfully Self-Publish with Steff Green

In Successful Self-Publishing, USA Today bestselling indie author Steff Green shows you how to tell your story, find your readers, and build an author brand. Steff shares her tips and tricks for making a living as a successful self-published writer. This module is geared towards writers who want to earn from their self-publishing.

Module content

By the end of this module, you will understand how to establish yourself as a self-published author and:

  • identify your goals and aspirations
  • understand what self-published books sell and how you earn royalties
  • understand what readers want.
  • learn about your different self-publishing options including ebooks, paperbacks, hardcovers, and audio
  • editing, cover art and formatting your book for publication and
  • techniques for marketing your book.
Enrol / find out more about this module

Memoir: Telling Your Story with Caroline Barron

Figuring out how to tell your story is the most challenging aspect of memoir writing. In this module, Caroline looks at memoir basics (what memoir is and isn’t, the role of point of view, ethics and permissions, universal themes, and the road to publication). However, the secret sauce of this workshop is the detailed look at the role of time in memoir—where on the timeline you are standing to tell your story—plus how to tackle the one biggest issue she sees in clients’ work: story structure. Caroline will take you through five structures to lay over your work to help you decide which is best to carry your story.

Module content

By the end of this module, you will understand the process of creating and publishing a memoir, including:

  • Elements of memoir
  • Point of view
  • Tense
  • How to use time
  • Theme
  • Two types of memoir
  • Five structures of memoir
  • Next steps and editing
  • Permissions
  • Writing as therapy
  • The road to publication
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Learn about POV (point of view) with Paula Morris

In this short module, award-winning writer and teacher Paula Morris will guide you through the demands, contradictions and limitations of point of view as it relates to fiction, although the topics discussed are relevant to creative non-fiction as well.

Module content

  • What is POV
  • Demands of POV
  • Constraints of POV
  • 1st person narrative

By the end of this module, you will understand the fundamental elements of POV and how it could be applied to your fiction or creative non-fiction project.

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Storybuilding: Strategies and exercises to build solid foundations with Mandy Hager

In this one-hour module, award-winning writer and teacher Mandy Hager will guide you through the foundations of storybuilding to help you kickstart your novel, memoir or other long-form project.

Module content

  • Understanding the story’s power
  • Structure of story
  • Psychology of story
  • Refining story
  • Building character
Enrol / find out more about this module



Guide to using NZSA Writer Toolkit – PDF document

Short video guide – stepping you through the sign up process

We are grateful to these organisations for their support: