I have recently completed a fantastic online course that I just had to recommend and share with you all. The course can be found here and it runs a few times per year online. I would highly recommend it for anyone who wants to start writing fiction (Clever name for the course, right?!).
The course runs for 8 weeks, but you can do as much or as little as you want at a time. The free option only gives you limited access to the course material, but there is a chance to upgrade for £42, which includes a certificate upon completion of the course. There are different mediums involved in the course and, by far my favourite element of the course, there are a couple of opportunities to have people critique your work. I found this really useful, if a little nerve-wracking at first. But everyone on the course was in the same boat, so it felt like equals/colleagues giving feedback on the work you’ve produced. It wasn’t like writing an essay at university and handing it in to the professor who knows everything about that subject. We were all in it together, and there were a lot of us! Some of us chose the same times to study, so I found that I crossed paths with the same people every so often. That was nice. I also got to give feedback on their work, which gave me a different perspective on writing and taught me to see other texts from a writer’s, and editor’s, viewpoint.
There are some great tasks throughout the course as well as videos and audio footage of established authors talking about how they work and offering helpful tips. You will learn about different aspects of writing but the course is mainly focused on character development. This is something I’ve never really started with when thinking of writing a story. I always begin with a plot (of sorts!) and the rest falls into place around that. This course taught me how to prioritise characters and then the plot can work around them. It was also really useful to hear successful authors talking about their processes, including Alex Garland and Louis De Bernieres.
I came out of the course feeling more confident, with the resources to help me formulate any kind of story by myself. There are documents you can save, including a prompt cloud which contains all sorts of random words to alleviate those writer’s blocks and give you some inspiration. Plus, you can download transcripts of the audio files by the published authors. I was so impressed with the content of this free course and I didn’t feel it was worth spending the money for the unlimited access and certificate, but that was just my choice!
Please, if you have any interest in starting to write your own stories, sign up at FutureLearn and, if there are other interests you’d rather pursue, then there may be other courses for you there, too!