Future Learn: Start Writing Fiction: Weeks 6, 7 & 8

Well, this is nice:

Tonight I completed the 8 week Start Writing Fiction course over at futurelearn.com. It’s been a fun and rewarding course. Though it’s aimed primarily at new writers, even for more experienced writers it offers something valuable: a reason to write regularly. Each week you’re given assignments and this alone has been fantastic – I’ve been more productive since the course began than I have been for a while.

So, time to share the final bits and pieces I created for the course. (more…)

Future Learn: Start Writing Fiction: Week 5

It was all going so well the first few weeks – but I’m really starting to slip behind. As I write this I’m halfway through week 6, despite week 7 theoretically starting today. But, then, that’s one of the liberating things about FutureLearn – you can go at your own pace. I’ll still get through the course, won’t miss anything, won’t be rushed, and will get the full benefit, but it is flexible enough to fit into a life containing a toddler, a job and a wife’s birthday.

It’s the polar opposite of studying English at university, where I’d rush-read the set texts, often not finishing them, just so I’d hopefully have something to contribute at a seminar – as a result, classic books were utterly ruined. Old education really isn’t the way to do it.

ANYWAY. Onto week 5’s various assignments, kicking off with…



Future Learn: Start Writing Fiction: Week 4

Here’s my work from week 4 of FutureLearn’s Start Writing Fiction course…

The main focus of week 4 was character and plot. I ended up with half of a short story which I may or may not finish at some point. Here’s what exists so far:

Hiding in time

“Ready or not, here I come!”

John scuttled beneath the porch, slipping down onto his belly and commando crawling his way forwards until he was completely concealed. He rolled over and lay still, squinting to see between the dark, wooden slats of the decking above. Sunlight bloomed around their edges.

Breathing as slowly as possible he strained his ears for a sign, listening out for the patter of feet or creak of boards.

“I’m going to find you,” Chloe called from elsewhere in the garden, clearly heading in the wrong direction. John grinned, proud of his hiding place. (more…)

Future Learn: Start Writing Fiction: Week 3

Week 3 has passed of the online writing course I’m currently doing, which means it’s time to share some more of my assignments.

EDIT: I completely forgotten I’d written a tiny character sketch in week 3, so here it is:

Emma said that the bruising would go down after a week but it had already been three days and her face was still a sweltering mess of reds and purples, occasional arcs of dull blue highlighting the swelling like whitecaps on breaking waves. “It was my fault, really,” she kept saying, over and over, mostly to herself as if even she didn’t really believe it.

And now back to the original blog post: (more…)

Future Learn: Start Writing Fiction: Week 2

Week 2 of the Start Writing Fiction course is now done (yes, I’m running a day-or-so behind), so here are my latest creations for the various exercises:

Best and worst writing space


Blessed Ludditian silence. Regardless of the validity of the term ‘Ludditian’, there’s no denying the creative power unleashed by simply disconnecting. Research is one thing but writing is another: it requires disabling the network adapter, hitting F11 to full screen the app and powering through, in the zone, no peripheral distractions. All other distractions can be surmounted save the internet: source of so many ideas yet saboteur of productivity.


The thing about distractions is that–funny cat! But when you come back to what you were doing, you find that you can’t quite remember what–new movie trailer! Anyway, as I was saying, what you need–wonder if that SSD is below £90 yet? Often I find myself losing my thread, fumbling about before–is that book out yet? Which reminds me that the new issue of Ten Grand must have been released. Maybe I should go and get another cup of tea. And a biscuit.

Expanded character study


Future Learn: Start Writing Fiction: Week 1

Having completed week 1 of Future Learn’s Start Writing Fiction course, I thought I’d post up the snippets of work I’ve generated so far.

Fact & fiction

First up, there was a fun exercise in writing a couple of paragraphs. The first required 1 fact and 3 fictitious elements, while the second needed the opposite.

1 fact, 3 fictitious elements

The first manned moon landing was in 1969, crewed by an international team of American, Russian and Chinese astronauts. This scientific achievement was only possible due to the stable political situation in the late 60s, resulting in unprecedented cooperation between previously antagonistic nations. Given what followed, the collaborative missions of the 60s and 70s are remembered as a golden age for human exploration.

3 facts, 1 fictitious element

Norwich is unusual in that it includes two cathedrals (of different denominations) and is known for once having a pub for every day of the year and a church for every Sunday. Despite its abundance of churches it nevertheless is known as the least religious city in the UK, most likely as a result of the violent unrest and religious purges of the late 1980s. (more…)