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

370,626 enrolled on this course

Start Writing Fiction
  • Duration

    8 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours
  • 100% online

    Learn at your own paceHow it works
  • Unlimited

    $15.83/monthLearn more

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.

Download video: standard or HD

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

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

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
Recommended

Ways to learn

Upgrade this course

Unlimited

Basic access

Choose the best way to learn for you!

$59

$15.83/month

Billed annually at $189.99/year

Free

Unlock your expertiseEndless possibilities!Try before you upgrade
Access to this courseticktickLimited to 10 weeks
Access to ALL eligible short courses with additional benefits, for a yearcrosstickcross
Discuss your learning in commentstickticktick
Certificate when you're eligiblePrinted and digitalDigital onlycross
Join and Upgrade

Ways to learn

Buy Unlimited to access this course and hundreds of other short courses for a year or Upgrade just this course for extra benefits. Or, join with basic access.

Unlimited

$15.83/month

Billed annually at $189.99/year

Endless possibilities!

  • Access to this course
  • Access to ALL eligible short courses with additional benefits, for a year
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Certificate when you're eligible

Upgrade this course

$59

Unlock your expertise

  • All of the above* for this course only

*Excludes access to all eligible short courses with additional benefits for a year

Basic access

Free

Try before you buy

  • Limited access to course content for 10 weeks

Find out more about certificates, Upgrades or Unlimited.

Available until 22 November 2021 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

Find out more about certificates, Upgrades or Unlimited.

Available until 22 November 2021 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps, but you can complete them as quickly or slowly as you like
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

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

Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

Learner reviews

Learner reviews cannot be loaded due to your cookie settings. Please and refresh the page to view this content.

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join:

Do you know someone who'd love this course? Tell them about it...

You can use the hashtag #FLfiction19 to talk about this course on social media.