For the past 8 weeks I have undertaken an online course, Start Writing Fiction hosted on FutureLearn web site. I had already taken one course from FutureLearn which was very good. It was a criminology course, another short 8 weeks introduction very much a taster. These online courses give thousands the chance to see how education has changed or just explore a little further something that grabs their interest.
CSI, NCIS and shows of this nature have piqued many people’s interest into just what is the science behind these stories. These short courses give a glimpse behind the real scenes. It was an opener indeed.
So when I saw the creative writing, I knew that was for me. Signing up was simple, no requirements other than a wish to learn. The course was run over 8 weeks like many other and had a good structure. Each week was aimed towards the last short story by looking at characters, plot, editing and reading. Many might think if you read the types of books you wish to write, that it is wrong. It is the reverse. We also had to submit short 300 word pieces for others to comment on and help understand what like-minded people thought.
That could have been difficult, however Futurelearn did this rather well by keeping it to three questions. This helped teach how to read others work and comment without being negative. There is nothing worse than feeling dejected when you have crafted a piece of work, thought it was well written only to find the metaphorical rug pulled from underneath your feet. It can be difficult to take well constructed criticism sometimes and this course has helped in explaining it.
It is hard to put your work out into the open for others to read, but that’s what you have to do if you wish to be published. The course finished with a final short 1000 word story. Not easy to do. However, I did complete the task and got very good comments which pleased me. My story was a twist on an old sci-fi theme and I will rewrite it later for myself.
I enjoyed the course a lot, the structure made sense and it gave me a new insight into where I need to build. Over the weeks, I created a couple of characters which it turns out have given me ideas for stories. I also am close to finishing my first novel, which will then need a few edits.
Would I recommend this to others? Yes indeed I would for a number of reasons. if your interested in discovering more this free taster helps, it makes you think about progressing to maybe a degree or a weekend retreat. Don’t forget that it does cost to get a degree these days and many people can’t afford to waste hard-earned money.
So what next for me? Well more blogs, short stories and developing the two characters into longer stories. Self-publishing is my next goal, which in itself is not easy.
FutureLearn has taken off in a big way. It is easy to do, you work at your pace at home, no messing around and understandable. There are people available to offer advice as well as many other students all wishing to learn. Is this the way to draw people into further education? Could well be in my view, but at the end of the day it is the cost of doing a degree which I would say puts off many mature students.
Tagline; “998 words for my last short story, which two words to add? The End”