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

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Start Writing Fiction

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 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.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds Nowadays, when people ask me what I write about, I say, food, sex, and God. And that just about sums it up. I think your characters find you in the same that your ideas find you. I think they settle on you. Start Writing Fiction focuses on a skill that is central to the writing of all stories, creating characters. Through the course, you’ll explore various ideas and take part in exercises to help you develop your own characters. You’ll start writing your own stories, learn to read like a writer, and how to edit.

Skip to 0 minutes and 49 seconds You’ll hear from a number of successful authors, including Michele Roberts, Alex Garland, and Louis de Bernieres, as they talk about their own experiences of writing. There seem to be two different types of character. There’s the type that just turns up at your shoulder like a ghost and insists on being written. The other kind of character is the sort that you invent more or less from scratch or creator as a composite of various people that you’ve noticed or come across. You’ll see how established authors such as Toni Morrison, Graham Greene, and Kate Atkinson, have written and presented characters in their novels.

Skip to 1 minute and 22 seconds By the end of the course, you’ll have learned tricks, such as the importance of redrafting and using a journal to generate ideas. And, most important of all, you’ll start writing yourself.

What topics will you cover?

  • Creation of characters in fiction
  • Different sources for characters in stories
  • Ways of presenting characters in stories
  • Reading as a writer
  • Writing practice, including creativity, research, observation and editing
  • Peer reviewing, workshops and the importance of feedback

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • 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 use of such content.

Recommended for learners age 16+.

Who will you learn with?

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.

  • Established

    1969
  • Location

    Milton Keynes, UK
  • World ranking

    Top 510Source: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020

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  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
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Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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