Getting Started: Beginners’ Fiction

The course

Everything you need to call yourself a writer.

Do you have a burning desire to write but don’t know where to start? Or maybe you’ve started writing but need help turning your ideas into stories.

This eight-week online course, run by our partners at Faber Academy, will help you take your writing to the next level. Working with a supportive and friendly group of fellow learners, in just a few weeks you’ll go from a curious scribbler to a disciplined writer.

Helen Shipman

Meet your course director

Helen Shipman

Helen has been teaching people to write for 30 years. She has devised and delivered writing courses from adult classes and her graduates are international prizewinners and have published a variety of genres. She is also a short-listed fiction writer herself.

In partnership with Faber Academy

Expert guidance from first line to final draft, at the home of one of Britain’s great publishers. We work in partnership with Faber Academy to offer a range of courses for fiction writers at all stages of development – choose from key skills short courses through to advanced novel writing courses.

How it works

We give you the theory in the form of videos, podcasts, written lectures and reading extracts. In the case of our live workshops, this includes a live online seminar.

You put it into practice by completing the writing assignments.

You share your work with the small group of fellow writers and the teaching team.

Your tutor and fellow learners read your work and give professional-style feedback on your submission. Giving feedback notes helps to build your skills as an editor - a critical part of the writing process.

You reflect on the exercises with the group and share what you’ve learned.

You use what you learned from the feedback and discussions to review your work and improve it.

Things to know

Getting Started: Beginners’ Fiction is an introductory course, designed for people who are completely new to writing fiction, have tried their hand at writing fiction and want to develop their skills and knowledge, or have experience with other types of writing and want to try something new.

The course is suitable if you:

  • Enjoy reading fiction and want to start writing it
  • Are new to writing fiction and want some guidance as you try it for the first time
  • Have started writing and would like to learn new techniques and develop good habits
  • Are keen to explore the building blocks that make good fiction writing
  • Want to join a friendly and supportive group of learners
  • Can dedicate 5-7 hours per week for the duration of the course

Tutor Helen Shipman will introduce you to the skills and techniques that will help you turn your ideas into stories. You’ll learn about the building blocks of fiction, how to create engaging characters and realistic settings, and discover which point of view to use when telling a story.

The weekly sessions will introduce you, step-by-step, to the skills needed for writing fiction while you work within a supportive community of fellow writers keen to share their experiences with you.

Session 1: Becoming a Writer – We’ll start by looking at how writers work and how to develop your own creativity and discipline.

Session 2: Point of View – Every story needs a narrator, so we’ll look at different viewpoints to understand who’s telling the story.

Session 3: Character – You’ll learn the importance of characters in fiction, where they come from and how to make them believable.

Session 4: Setting – You’ll think about where your story takes place and why that’s important.

Session 5: Time – You’ll learn how time works in fiction and explore techniques to vary the pace of your story.

Session 6: Structure – You’ll look at how to fit the different elements of your story together.

Session 7: Writing Time – You’ll have two weeks private writing time to work on a final short story, or start of a novel, of up to 3,000 words, which you can share with the group for feedback.

Join the Faber Academy alumni

After your course, you can join the online alumni where you’ll meet the growing network of past Faber Academy students. The alumni is a friendly group of writers who support each other as they continue to explore and develop their writing.

Within the online alumni area you can:

  • Rejoin your classmates on a private forum and access an archived version of your course materials and forum posts
  • Meet alumni from other Faber Academy courses and groups and share your work for feedback on our alumni critiquing forum
  • Join in on discussions about reading, writing, editing and ideas on our general discussion forum. This is also where we share news and useful info
  • Retain access to our resources area, which has interesting and informative links
  • Chat with other people online using the alumni area live chatroom. We also host live chats with guest tutors, authors, agents, editors and publishers

Commission a report on your work

If you’d like to receive a personalised, detailed report on your final piece of writing from your course tutor, this is available at an extra cost. You’ll receive detailed written feedback assessing your ideas and writing, plus advice on what steps to take next.

Taking things further

If you’d like to continue on to another Faber Academy course, you’ll receive a discount. Please get in touch for more details.

The team

Meet your course team

Helen Shipman

Helen Shipman

Fiction Foundations

Helen has been teaching people to write for 30 years. She has devised and delivered writing courses from adult classes and her graduates are international prizewinners and have published a variety of genres. She is also a short-listed fiction writer herself.

More about Helen Shipman

Danielle Charles


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