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The Open University

Start writing fiction: characters and stories

The Open University via OpenLearn

Overview

This free course, Start writing fiction: characters and stories, helps you to get started with your own fiction writing. It provides a practical, hands-on approach, focusing on the central skill of creating characters.You will listen to established writers talk about how they started writing and consider the rituals of writing and the importance of keeping a journal. You'll learn how to develop your ideas and the importance of reflecting on writing and editing, and you'll hear other writers talking about their approaches to research and consider ways of turning events into a plot.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.

Syllabus

  • Week1Week 1: Starting to write fiction
  • Introduction
  • 1.1 What is fiction?
  • 1.1.1 Fact and fiction
  • 1.1.2 What can you see?
  • 1.2 Creating your own space
  • 1.2.1 Keeping track of useful details
  • 1.2.2 Reviewing your notes
  • 1.3 Why writers write
  • 1.4 The writing journey starts
  • 1.4.1 Developing a character from your notebook
  • 1.4.2 Reading characters
  • 1.4.3 Week 1 quiz
  • 1.4.4 Comparing your characters
  • 1.5 Summary of Week 1
  • References
  • Acknowledgements
  • Week2Week 2: The habit of writing
  • Introduction
  • 2.1 Writers’ rituals
  • 2.1.1 What works best for you?
  • 2.1.2 Imagining writing spaces
  • 2.2 Observation – the importance of detail
  • 2.2.1 Heightening your observations
  • 2.2.2 Learning from other writers
  • 2.2.3 Week 2 quiz
  • 2.2.4 Comparing characters again
  • 2.2.5 How can I be original?
  • 2.2.6 Familiar words in unfamiliar places
  • 2.3 The blank page
  • 2.3.1 Searching your notebook
  • 2.3.2 Should I wait until I’m inspired?
  • 2.3.3 Finding a voice
  • 2.3.4 More starting ploys
  • 2.3.5 Ideas for a story
  • 2.4 Summary of Week 2
  • References
  • Acknowledgements
  • Week3Week 3: Writing is editing
  • Introduction
  • 3.1 Reviewing and redrafting
  • 3.1.1 Reading work in progress
  • 3.2 What is editing?
  • 3.2.1 Editing is your friend
  • 3.2.2 Editing practice
  • 3.2.3 Editing – big decisions
  • 3.2.4 Editing summary
  • 3.3 Learn through writing
  • 3.3.1 Generate and share something new
  • 3.3.2 Commenting on work
  • 3.4 Summary of Week 3
  • Acknowledgements
  • Week4Week 4: Building your story
  • Introduction
  • 4.1 Why take notes and what to note
  • 4.1.1 Research
  • 4.1.2 Different approaches to research
  • 4.1.3 The notebook habit
  • 4.2 What is plot?
  • 4.2.1 Developing your plot line
  • 4.2.2 What if?
  • 4.2.3 Writing character
  • 4.3 Hooked by lines and images
  • 4.3.1 Hunches that matter
  • 4.3.2 Writing about personal concerns
  • 4.3.3 Week 4 quiz
  • 4.3.4 Reflecting on concerns and ideas
  • 4.3.5 Extraordinary versus ordinary
  • 4.4 Summary of Week 4
  • References
  • Acknowledgements
  • Week5Week 5: Creating convincing characters
  • Introduction
  • 5.1 Reading Novakovich
  • 5.1.1 Character and plot
  • 5.1.2 Revisit your journal
  • 5.2 Round and flat characters
  • 5.2.1 Enriching stereotypes
  • 5.2.2 Talking more than types
  • 5.2.3 Challenging expectations
  • 5.3 Using yourself
  • 5.3.1 Finding and developing fictional characters
  • 5.3.2 Week 5 quiz
  • 5.3.3 Generating and sharing a character sketch
  • 5.4 Summary of Week 5
  • References
  • Acknowledgements
  • Week6Week 6: Developing and portraying characters
  • Introduction
  • 6.1 Ways of developing characters
  • 6.1.1 Talking about characters
  • 6.1.2 Building a new character
  • 6.1.3 Revealing characters
  • Extract: Portraying a character
  • 6.1.4 Getting to know your characters
  • 6.2 ‘Three Hours Between Planes’
  • 6.2.1 Can’t stop talking about characters
  • 6.2.2 Returning to your character
  • 6.2.3 Portraying your character
  • 6.2.4 Self-portrait
  • 6.3 Planning your short story
  • 6.3.1 Ideas and techniques for working on your story
  • 6.3.2 Starting to write your story
  • 6.3.3 Layout
  • 6.4 Summary of Week 6
  • References
  • Acknowledgements
  • Week7Week 7: Reading as a writer
  • Introduction
  • 7.1 Enrichment from reading
  • 7.1.1 Formulating and sharing technical opinion
  • 7.1.2 Reviewing your story
  • 7.1.3 Editing your story
  • 7.2 Ongoing book reviews
  • 7.2.1 Week 7 quiz
  • 7.2.2 Editing revisited
  • 7.3 Questions to ask
  • 7.3.1 Giving feedback to other writers
  • 7.3.2 Receiving feedback
  • 7.4 Summary of Week 7
  • References
  • Acknowledgements
  • Week8Week 8: Your final story
  • Introduction
  • 8.1 Sharing your story
  • 8.1.1 Being your own critic
  • 8.1.2 Benefits of group work
  • 8.1.3 Reflect on the feedback
  • 8.2 Editing again
  • 8.2.1 Reflecting again
  • 8.3 Week 8 quiz
  • 8.4 The next steps
  • Acknowledgements

Reviews

5.0 rating, based on 1 Class Central review

4 rating at OpenLearn based on 41 ratings

Start your review of Start writing fiction: characters and stories

  • Profile image for Shreya Bisen
    Shreya Bisen
    "I recently took a creative writing course and it was an amazing experience. The instructor was knowledgeable, passionate, and provided valuable feedback that helped me improve my writing skills. I appreciated the opportunity to explore different genres and styles, and the course structure allowed for plenty of creative freedom while still providing structure and guidance. Overall, I would highly recommend this course to anyone looking to develop their writing skills and explore their creative side."

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