Start Writing Fiction Course - The Open University


2 locations available
Read more about this program on the institution's website

Program Description


Get started with your own fiction writing, focusing on the central skill of creating characters, with this hands-on course.

Discover the rituals and approaches that successful fiction writers use

On this online course, established writers – including Louis de Bernières, Patricia Duncker, Alex Garland, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Tim Pears, Michèle Roberts and Monique Roffey – will talk about how they started writing.

You’ll consider the rituals of writing and keeping a journal; learn how to develop your ideas; reflect on your own writing and editing; hear writers talk about their approach to research, and start turning events into the plot.

You’ll also have the opportunity to review the work of fellow writers and receive comments on your own, learning to read as a writer and respond to feedback.


Week 1
Starting to write fiction

  • Introduction
  • Keeping a notebook
  • Other writers

Week 2
The habit of writing

  • Do it your way
  • Observation and imagination
  • The blank page

Week 3
Writing is editing

  • Reflecting on what you have written
  • Editing your work
  • Writing is your training

Week 4
Building your story

  • Keeping a writer's notebook
  • Character and plot
  • Ideas for stories

Week 5
Creating convincing characters

  • Character and conflict
  • Types of character
  • Sources of character

Week 6
Developing and portraying characters

  • Revealing characters
  • Portraying characters
  • Writing the first draft

Week 7
Reading as a writer

  • Learning from reading
  • Reading as a writer
  • Learning from fellow writers

Week 8
Your final story

  • Sharing and reflecting on writing
  • Reflecting on your own writing
  • Carry on writing

When would you like to start?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts.

  • Available now

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to:

  • Apply and learn to write fiction and generate stories by creating characters.
  • Investigate notions of writing from your experience and from research.
  • Explore using a writer’s notebook to develop ideas and increase observational awareness.
  • Identify and realise the importance of other authors and works to develop your skills in reading as a writer.
  • Develop your awareness of editing, in developing your vocabulary of style and presentation.
  • Identify and realise the importance of exchanging work and critical comment with fellow writers.

Who is the course for?

This course is intended for those with an interest in starting to write fiction or improving their fiction writing and does not require any previous experience of studying this subject.

Please be aware that participation in this course involves reviewing work posted by other learners. You may find some material used in these stories is of an adult nature (e.g. language, sex, violence) and although captured in context, may offend. Learners on this course are instructed to place warnings at the top of their work to indicate the use of such content.

Recommended for learners age 16+.

Who will you learn with?

Derek Neale

A novelist and short-story writer – his latest novel is The Book of Guardians - Derek has recorded many interviews with novelists, playwrights and biographers about their approach to writing.

Who developed the course?

The Open University

The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning, with a mission to be open to people, places, methods and ideas.

Join this course



Unlimited (New!)
$259.99 for one year

Join free and you will get:

  • Access to this course for 10 weeks

Upgrade this course and you will get:

  • Access to this course for as long as it’s on FutureLearn
  • Access to this course’s tests as well as a print and digital Certificate of Achievement once you’re eligible

Buy Unlimited and you will get:

  • Access to this course, and hundreds of other FutureLearn short courses and tests for a year
  • A printable digital Certificate of Achievement on all short courses once you’re eligible
  • The freedom to keep access to any course you've achieved a digital Certificate of Achievement on, for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn
  • The flexibility to complete your choice of short courses in your own time within the year
Last updated Sep 2020

About the School

Learn 100% online with world-class universities and industry experts. Develop your career, learn a new skill, or pursue your hobbies with flexible online courses.

Learn 100% online with world-class universities and industry experts. Develop your career, learn a new skill, or pursue your hobbies with flexible online courses. Read less
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