#CA-02-15 Start Writing Fiction

  • Categories Creative Arts
  • Duration 15h
  • Total Enrolled 7
  • Last Update September 27, 2021

About Course

The Open University


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.


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


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.

  • Established1969
  • LocationMilton Keynes, UK
  • World rankingTop 510Source: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020

What Will I Learn?

  • 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

Topics for this course

14 Lessons15h


Fiction is all about characters. Make the best of everything you already have and know – your unique ‘material’ and ‘equipment’ for creating characters.
Before you start… ARTICLE
What is fiction? VIDEO (01:28)00:00:00
Ways to write VIDEO (01:38)00:00:00
Fact and fiction DISCUSSION
What can you use? ARTICLE

Keeping a notebook?

Start your own ‘writer’s notebook’ to collect facts and fictions, observations from everyday life, things you find fascinating or amusing and things you imagine. Start seeing the world as a writer.

Other writers?

Why start writing? Listen to some established writers explain their reasons and compare them to your own. Start your own writing journey by developing a character from your observations.

Student Feedback


Total 4 Ratings

3 ratings
1 rating
0 rating
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A great tonic for the brain!
A great tonic for the brain!Yes - the level was well balanced. I am used to writing, especially academic pieces - this was an engaging, well paced set of mental exercise with alot of different writing angles covered. I found it very thought provoking and stimulating.

I was amazed that I could actually write a story at the end of the course. I certainly was not confident in the beginning and sometimes found the instructions quite intimidating. However, the tips and guidelines helped me to create a character and build a story around her. The reviews by other writers were encouraging while their criticisms were cRead more about review stating Start Writing Fictiononstructive. Thank you Future Learn!

I’ve been writing on and off for a lot of years but decided in January that New Year might be a good time to go back to the start. I wasn’t disappointed with this course, which started very simply but built on itself, week on week. It contained many useful pieces of advice and I really enjoyed interacting with the other members of the course. It wRead more about review stating An excellent back-to-basics courseas also very useful for getting back into the writing habit, setting aside a block of time every day. If I had any criticism, it would be that a lot of the course was based on Novakovich’s treatise on writing, which is good, but I would have liked to have seen some other perspectives explored as well.

I liked it so much, I did it twiceI did this course a few years ago and loved it so much I decided to do it again. This time I composed different characters and different situations.
It's a great course. Each time, I found it challenging but not impossible, and great fun as well. I love the interaction with other participants. I'll probably do it again in a few years.


Material Includes

  • Official Certificate

Target Audience

  • 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+.