Getting Started: Beginners’ Fiction

Everything you need to call yourself a writer — discipline, craft skills and a great group of people to work with

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.


Start date: 23 May 2022
Duration: 8 weeks
Skill level: Beginner
Session length: Weekly (final session lasts a fortnight)
Sessions: 7
Price: £350 (inc. VAT where applicable)


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.

You’ll learn in Faber Academy’s online classroom, which is open 24/7 so you can balance your learning around your work, family and friends. You’ll work in a small group of fellow learners so you can discuss ideas, ask questions and share your writing as you progress through the sessions.

You’ll learn from:

  • Podcasts from Helen Shipman
  • Written guidance from Helen explaining the conventions and techniques of writing fiction
  • Videos of authors and writing experts talking about how they write
  • Specially selected reading and viewing lists
  • Short quizzes and questionnaires to help you think about your own reading and writing
  • Fun writing prompts to inspire you and give you ideas for starting your own stories
  • Writing exercises to help you experiment and practise your own writing, from the first session onward
  • Online discussions with writers in your group and the chance to share and give feedback on each other’s writing

You’ll need:

  • 5-7 hours per week to work through the course
  • A notebook and pen or pencil, if you like to make notes by hand
  • A laptop or computer* with:
    • A reliable broadband internet connection
    • Speakers or headphones
    • The latest version of Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Edge, or Safari
    • Microsoft Word. If you don’t have this you can download Open Office free
    • Adobe Reader, latest version. Download free
    • QuickTime Player, latest version. Download free

*You can access the course from a tablet or smartphone, but we recommend using a laptop or computer, as this makes it easier to share your work files with your writing group.

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.

This is a Faber Academy course, so you’ll need to book through their website.

What our students say...

It has been a brilliant course, I am sorry that it is coming to an end. When I started there was so much I didn’t know that I didn’t know. I now have some idea of the skills I need to develop and a more realistic grasp of what is involved in writing good fiction.


What our students say...

The discipline of the Beginners’ Fiction course is helping me immensely; I’m writing much more regularly than before.


What our students say...

I have absolutely loved the Beginners’ Fiction course, and feel that I have learned so much in just a few weeks. I really appreciate the tutoring, the exercises, the guidelines and the excellent resources you have put together to deliver the course. It was great to meet such a supportive and positive group of fellow writers too, who I think will carry on working together for a long time to come.


What our students say...

Thanks very much for a brilliant course. I have learned a huge amount and it’s been great to discover that an online class really can work!


What our students say...

My character almost wrote the piece himself. I was amazed how much difference this exercise made to my writing.


Ready to start writing?

Price: £350 (inc. VAT where applicable)
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